provisions of the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act
of 1996 ("AEDPA"). See Lindh v. Murphy, 521 U.S. 320, 336, 117
S.Ct. 2059, 138 L.Ed.2d 481 (1997). AEDPA amended
28 U.S.C. § 2254(d), which now specifies that habeas relief shall not be
granted unless the state court decision was "contrary to, or
involved an unreasonable application of, clearly established
Federal law, as determined by the Supreme Court of the United
States," or "was based on an unreasonable determination of the
facts in light of the evidence presented in the State court
proceeding." 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d)(1) & (2). Neither of these
conditions are satisfied here.
I first consider Mr. Williams' claim that he received
ineffective assistance of counsel because of his trial counsel's
failure to interview three key witnesses. As explained above,
this claim requires a showing that the petition was actually
prejudiced by counsel's professionally deficient performance, and
counsel's performance is presumed to be adequate, although the
presumption may be rebutted. Strickland, 466 U.S. at 687-91,
104 S.Ct. 2052. It is not deficient performance to fail to raise
an argument with no real chance of success or where the objection
would have been properly overruled if it had been made, see
United States v. Neeley, 189 F.3d 670, 683-84 (7th Cir. 1999);
United States v. Draves, 103 F.3d 1328, 1335-36 (7th Cir.
1997); likewise, it was not deficient performance for counsel not
to interview witnesses who had nothing to offer to Mr. Williams'
The witnesses at issue here fall into that category, if the
affidavits appended to this petition adequately set forth what
they could testify to, as indeed those affidavits state. Sean
Hill says that he saw Williams and the victim arguing, but he
could not hear about what; that two others he can now identify
became involved in and then left the argument; and that he heard
several shots from what he believed to be different caliber guns,
but he did not see who fired them. Gerald Turner gives a
substantially similar account, adding that he ran after the first
shots were fired, that one of the two men who entered the
argument chased him down an alley firing a gun, and that Mr.
Williams ran in another direction towards his car. Mr. Hill and
Mr. Turner both state they gave statements to the police saying
what they knew. Marcus Williams, Mr. Williams' brother and
codefendant, states that his attorney would not let him testify
on Mr. Williams' behalf. He could testify that the victim had a
"prior relationship" with a prosecution witness and he states
that although he conveyed this fact to Mr. Williams' attorneys,
it was never brought out at trial.
It is hard to see how this testimony by these three witnesses,
separately or taken together, could have contributed anything to
Mr. Williams' defense, whether by showing that he fired in
self-defense or was guilty of only second degree murder or
anything else that might exculpate or exonerate him. Mr. Hill and
Mr. Turner saw an argument with various people involved,
including Mr. Williams and the victim, and they heard shots, but
they did not see who shot the victim or how it was done. Mr.
Williams' brother only knows of a "relationship" of some sort
between the victim and another witness. This might be impeachment
material, but its relevance is unclear. Because it would not have
made any difference to Mr. Williams' defense had these witnesses
been interviewed and had they testified at trial to what they
state in their affidavits, Mr. Williams' counsel did not provide
ineffective assistance of counsel in failing to interview them,
nor was Mr. Williams prejudiced by this failure.
I next consider whether it was inadequate assistance of counsel
for Mr. Williams' attorney not to have more fully investigated
the criminal history of witness Jimmy Johnson, the witness whose
rap sheet was subpoenaed after jury selection began for Mr.
Williams' trial. Mr. Williams, as explained, would have to have
been prejudiced by this lapse. He was
not. Suppose that Mr. Johnson's criminal history had been exposed
and he had been utterly discredited — although juries often
believe witnesses with criminal histories. Still, there were
other witnesses against Mr. Williams, and he offers no reason to
think that had Mr. Johnson been successfully impeached that it
would have made a difference. A jury may decide to believe two
witnesses who say the same thing, even if one of them is shown to
Finally I consider Mr Williams' contention that his counsel was
constitutionally deficient because she did not present arguments
in support of Mr. Williams' theory that he should have been
acquitted on grounds of self-defense or convicted at most of
second degree murder. This basis for a claim of ineffective
assistance of counsel fails because, so far as Mr. Williams has
shown, there were no credible arguments for either of these
theories. It is not ineffective assistance to fail to make
hopeless or farfetched arguments, and the arguments that Mr.
Williams urges here, based on the possibility of impeaching Mr.
Johnson or the testimony of Messrs. Hill and Turner and Marcus
Williams, are hopeless or farfetched.
Mr. Williams' petition for habeas relief is therefore DENIED.
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