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UNITED STATES EX REL. WILLIAMS

March 12, 1996

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, ex rel. HOWARD WILLIAMS, Plaintiff,
v.
RICHARD McVICAR, et al., Defendant.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: NORGLE

 CHARLES R. NORGLE, SR., District Judge:

 Before the court is the petition of Howard Williams ("Williams") for a writ of habeas corpus filed pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. This is Williams' second habeas petition. For the following reasons, the petition is denied.

 I. BACKGROUND

 In a bench trial, Williams was convicted of murder, attempted murder, and armed robbery and was sentenced to concurrent terms of thirty years each. In a direct appeal, Williams asserted that he was denied his constitutional right to a fair trial when he was denied an opportunity to confront witnesses. Williams' convictions were affirmed by both the Illinois appellate and supreme courts.

 On March 14, 1986, Williams filed his first federal habeas petition. In the petition, he alleged three issues: (1) the appellate court erred in not granting him a new trial when he was denied his constitutional right to confront the victim; (2) that he was not proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt; and (3) that his counsel was prevented from conducting a full cross-examination of the victim. On February 26, 1988, this court denied the petition for writ of habeas corpus.

 The United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit affirmed the district court's judgment. Williams petitioned for a rehearing and the court denied his petition on January 4, 1990. Williams then filed an untimely "Motion for Leave to File a Petition for Leave to Appeal" with the Illinois Supreme Court. This motion was denied and Williams' claims were never presented to the state's highest court.

 Thereafter, Williams filed a petition for post-conviction relief alleging that he was denied effective assistance of counsel when his attorney (1) failed to present witnesses who would have corroborated Williams' testimony that the victim did not know what occurred, intentionally misidentified Williams as one of the assailants, and (2) failed to elicit information about the victim which would have challenged her credibility. Williams' petition for post-conviction relief was dismissed by the Circuit Court of Cook County, and the Appellate Court of Illinois affirmed that decision. Williams then requested a rehearing in the appellate court which the court denied. As a result, Williams filed a Petition for Leave to Appeal to the Illinois Supreme Court; that petition was denied on February 23, 1995.

 Williams filed this petition for writ of habeas corpus on May 3, 1995 and raised four issues: (1) the Illinois Appellate Court did not address the issue of the trial court's failure to grant Williams an evidentiary hearing on his post-conviction petition where it raised a viable constitutional question but instead adjudicated the merits of the issue which constituted a reversible error; (2) Williams was denied his constitutional right to present witnesses to establish his defense in violation of the Sixth and Fourteenth Amendments; (3) Williams' right to effective assistance of counsel under the Sixth Amendment was violated because the offer of proof given by Williams' attorney did not include facts which would have changed the results of the trial or appeal; and 4) Williams was denied effective assistance of counsel where trial counsel failed to introduce crucial information about the complainant's background that would have challenged her credibility.

 II. DISCUSSION

 In order for Williams' habeas corpus claim to be considered by this court, the claim must be cognizable under federal habeas review. To be entitled to federal habeas relief, Williams must establish that he is being held in violation of the United States Constitution or the laws or treaties of the United States Constitution. Haas v. Abrahamson, 910 F.2d 384, 389 (7th Cir. 1990). Williams fails to state a constitutional violation in his habeas petition.

 A. Appellate Court Error

 Williams' first argument, that the Illinois Appellate Court erred when it affirmed the dismissal of his post-conviction petition, is not cognizable under federal habeas review. To be considered by this court, a habeas petition must be limited to the review of a state court conviction in violation of federal law. Coleman v. Thompson, 501 U.S. 722, 730, 115 L. Ed. 2d 640, 111 S. Ct. 2546 (1991). A state violating its own laws does not elevate state law into constitutional law. Reed v. Clark, 984 F.2d 209, 210 (7th Cir. 1993). It is not the province of a federal habeas court to reexamine state court determinations of state law questions. Estelle v. McGuire, 502 U.S. 62, 68, 116 L. Ed. 2d 385, 112 S. Ct. 475 (1991). "A federal court may not issue the writ on the basis of a perceived error of state law. " Pulley v. Harris, 465 U.S. 37, 41, 79 L. Ed. 2d 29, 104 S. Ct. 871 (1984). See also, e.g., Gilmore V. Taylor, 508 U.S. 333, 113 S. Ct. 2112, 2117-19, 124 L. Ed. 2d 306 (1993); Smith v. Phillips, 455 U.S. 209, 221, 71 L. Ed. 2d 78, 102 S. Ct. 940 (1982).

 Williams' argument involves whether the affirmance by the appellate court of the dismissal of his post-conviction petition was proper under state law. Whether a post-conviction petition makes the requisite showing of a deprivation of a constitutional right is a question involving the application and interpretation of state law. Id. In Williams' case, the Appellate Court's finding that neither the submitted affidavit nor the petition provides any basis to grant post-conviction relief where both refer to collateral matters is a question of state law. Therefore, Williams' attempt to state a federal habeas violation based on a denial of his post-conviction petition does not raise a constitutional argument and the claim is not cognizable by this court.

 B. Right to Present Witnesses

 Williams' second argument, that he was denied his constitutional right to present witnesses in violation of the Sixth and Fourteenth Amendments, has two prongs. First, Williams claims that he was denied effective assistance of counsel because his co-defendant, Carl Smith ("Smith"), should have been allowed to testify, but was prevented from doing so because Williams' attorney did not properly present his case. Second, Williams asserts that the trial court ...


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