make it imprudent to address the § 2254 petition immediately,
[it] should be stayed rather than dismissed.").
The government objects that allowing this sort delay holds up
the quick disposition of federal habeas claims intended by
Congress in the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of
1996, and applicable here, but I think the state should be
allowed to examine Mr. Williams' claims before I take them up.
The case on which the government principally relies, Neal v.
Gramley, 99 F.3d 841 (7th Cir. 1996), is distinguishable. Here,
the state courts have not found procedural default; there they
had, id. at 843, and the defendant's counsel in Neal conceded
that he was attempting to get around the limitations on
successive petitions. Id. at 846. Mr. Williams' counsel make no
It matters that a man's life is at stake. Death cases
especially demand "respect for the basic ingredient of due
process, namely, an opportunity to be allowed to substantiate a
claim before it is rejected." Ford v. Wainwright, 477 U.S. 399,
414, 106 S.Ct. 2595, 91 L.Ed.2d 335 (1986). In Illinois, where
more condemned men have been exonerated of capital crimes than
have been executed for them in the last two decades, there is no
need to rush to close off avenues of review for a process that an
Illinois Supreme Court Justice has characterized as flawed, see
People v. Bull, 185 Ill.2d 179, 235 Ill.Dec. 641,
705 N.E.2d 824, 847 (1998) (Harrison, J., concurring in part and dissenting
in part) ("[T]he system is not working. Innocent people are being
sentenced to death.") (giving examples), and which the Governor
has put into moratorium pending reform because of the
unacceptable risk of executing the innocent.
I therefore GRANT the motion to hold Mr. Williams' habeas
petition in abeyance until the final resolution of his state
petitions for post-conviction relief, and accordingly, VACATE my
order of March 8, 2000.
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