The opinion of the court was delivered by: Castillo, District Judge.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
Thomas Price filed this petition for a writ of habeas corpus,
28 U.S.C. § 2254, attacking his state court burglary conviction
and the resulting sentence. Price claims that his attorney
rendered constitutionally ineffective assistance in that counsel
did not file a motion to suppress Price's post-arrest statement;
failed to tender a jury instruction on the
lesser-included-offense of theft; and neglected to submit certain
evidence to the jury. He also claims that his fourteen-year
sentence for burglary constitutes cruel and unusual punishment.
Because the state court's adjudication of Price's claims was
eminently reasonable, we deny his habeas corpus petition.
Price was arrested, along with two co-defendants, after
breaking into a building and attempting to steal boxes of
aluminum siding. The co-defendants pled guilty, but Price
declined a plea bargain that would have resulted in a six-year
term of imprisonment. At trial, Price testified that he believed
the building he entered was abandoned, and that he was simply
looking for a quiet place to shoot-up the heroin he had purchased
just before the arrest.
The jury, however, believed the police officers, who testified
that when they arrived on the scene Price and his co-defendants
were dragging huge boxes of aluminum siding toward doors which
appeared to have been pried open. The officers also testified
about the dilapidated state of the building's roof, but stated
that all of the doors and windows functioned and were secure
(except, of course, the door the defendants had pried open).
Officer James Bailey interviewed Price after the arrest.
Officer Bailey testified that, after giving Price the Miranda
warnings, Price said he and his friends had been "junking".
Officer Bailey told the jury that "junking" is "picking up scrap
metal and selling it for money." Price, however, did not mention
drugs during his statement to Officer Bailey and no drug
paraphernalia was found at the burglary scene.
On this basis, the jury convicted Price of burglary, and the
court sentenced him to fourteen years' imprisonment. Price
appealed and, apparently, filed a post-conviction petition at
about the same time. The petition was summarily dismissed, and
the Illinois appellate court consolidated Price's appeal from
that dismissal with the pending direct criminal appeal. People
v. Price, Nos. 1-96-0194 and 1-96-2132, at 1 (Ill.App.Ct. Sept.
22, 1997) (Pet.Ex.A). Between the direct appeal and state
collateral attack, Price fairly presented each of the claims he
now asserts as grounds for federal habeas corpus relief.
Additionally, the state appellate court addressed each claim on
the merits, but affirmed Price's conviction and sentence, as well
as the dismissal of his post-conviction petition.
In his habeas corpus petition, Price attacks his conviction on
the ground that his attorney was constitutionally deficient.
Specifically, Price claims counsel should have attempted to
suppress his post-arrest statement; asked the trial judge to
tender an instruction on the lesser-included-offense of theft;
and introduced photographs of the building to bolster Price's own
testimony that he thought the building was abandoned. Price also
attacks his sentence as unconstitutionally cruel because his
co-defendants received significantly lesser punishments. After
setting out the standards for evaluating Price's petition, we
will address each claim in turn.
Price filed his petition in the fall of 1998 and, therefore,
the 1996 amendments to the federal habeas corpus statute apply to
this case. Under 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d)(1), Price cannot obtain
habeas relief unless he establishes that the state court decision
"was contrary to, or involved an unreasonable application of,
clearly established Federal Law, as determined by the Supreme
Court."*fn1 In other words, this Court will not evaluate Price's
claims de novo; rather, we analyze whether the Illinois appellate
court decision was legally consistent with Supreme Court caselaw,
and whether that court reasonably applied Supreme Court precedent
to the facts of Price's case. "The statutory `unreasonableness'
standard allows the state court's conclusion to stand if it is
one of several equally plausible outcomes." Hall v. Washington,
106 F.3d 742, 748-49 (7th Cir. 1997).
Price claims that his conviction violates the Sixth Amendment
because his defense attorney rendered ineffective assistance. He
also maintains that his sentence violates the Eighth Amendment's
proscription against cruel and unusual punishment. Although Price
appears to misapprehend our task in habeas by arguing the
straightforward merits of his claims, we analyze his arguments
as attacks on the state appellate court's adjudication of his
I. Ineffective Assistance of Counsel
Price rightly does not challenge the state court's enunciation
of the standards for evaluating an ineffective-assistance claim.
That court correctly set forth the test for ineffective
assistance as determined by the Supreme Court in Strickland v.
Washington, 466 U.S. 668, 104 S.Ct. 2052, 80 L.Ed.2d 674 (1984).
See Price, Nos. 1-96-0194 and 1-96-2132, at 5-6. Specifically,
the state court required Price to establish both that his
attorney's performance was objectively unreasonable, and that the
deficient performance resulted in prejudice to Price. Id. at 5
(citing Strickland, 466 U.S. at 687, 104 S.Ct. 2052). Instead,
Price argues that the state court's application of the
Strickland test to his three ineffective-assistance claims was
unreasonable. To succeed Price must establish a clear error ...