court, Petitioner's petition for leave to proceed without
prepayment of fees and costs (# 5) was granted. On August 31,
1998, Respondent, Thomas F. Page, filed a Motion to Dismiss (#
9) the petition. Respondent argues that the petition is not
timely. This court agrees. Accordingly, Petitioner's habeas
corpus petition is dismissed.
Following a jury trial, Petitioner was found guilty of
aggravated battery and two counts of first degree murder. On
April 26, 1993, he was sentenced to natural life imprisonment
for each first degree murder conviction and a concurrent term
of seven years' imprisonment for aggravated battery. Petitioner
appealed, and the Fourth District Appellate Court affirmed the
convictions on January 12, 1995. People v. McClain, 269 Ill. App.3d 500,
206 Ill.Dec. 580, 645 N.E.2d 585 (1995). Petitioner
filed a petition for leave to appeal which was denied by the
Illinois Supreme Court on April 5, 1995. People v. McClain,
161 Ill.2d 535, 208 Ill.Dec. 366, 649 N.E.2d 422 (1995).
On March 18, 1996, Petitioner filed a pro se petition
pursuant to Illinois' Post-Conviction Hearing Act (725
Ill.Comp.Stat. 5/122-1 et seq. (West 1996)) in the circuit
court of Champaign County. However, the Post-Conviction Hearing
Act provides that no proceedings under the Act may be commenced
more than six months after the denial of a petition for leave
to appeal or more than three years from the date of conviction,
whichever is sooner. 725 Ill.Comp.Stat. 5/122-1 (West 1996).
Because Petitioner's petition for leave to appeal was denied on
April 5, 1995, his post-conviction petition had to be filed no
later than October 5, 1995. As a result, Petitioner also filed
in the circuit court a motion to file a late petition for
post-conviction relief. In his motion, Petitioner alleged that
the delay in filing the post-conviction petition was due to a
"lockdown" at the Pontiac Correctional Center. The circuit
court denied Petitioner's motion to file his late
post-conviction petition, and he appealed.
On appeal, the Fourth District Appellate Court, with one
Justice dissenting, affirmed the circuit court's ruling.
People v. McClain, 292 Ill. App.3d 185, 226 Ill.Dec. 66,
684 N.E.2d 1062 (1997). The court found that Petitioner failed to
make a "substantial showing" that his delay in timely filing a
post-conviction petition was not due to his culpable
negligence. McClain, 226 Ill.Dec. 66, 684 N.E.2d at 1064. The
court noted that a post-conviction petition need only set forth
the "gist of a meritorious claim." McClain, 226 Ill.Dec. 66,
684 N.E.2d at 1065. The court stated:
The petitioner-inmate need only plead sufficient
facts from which the trial court could find a
valid claim of deprivation of a constitutional
right. Accordingly, we conclude that a prison
`lockdown,' restricting an inmate's access to the
prison law library, does not constitute a
legitimate excuse for the inmate's not filing a
postconviction petition in a timely fashion.
McClain, 226 Ill.Dec. 66, 684 N.E.2d at 1065.
Petitioner filed a petition for leave to appeal. The Illinois
Supreme Court denied the petition on February 4, 1998.
People v. McClain, 176 Ill.2d 585, 229 Ill.Dec. 58,
690 N.E.2d 1385 (1998). As noted, Petitioner filed his petition for a writ
of habeas corpus on May 11, 1998.