The opinion of the court was delivered by: James H. Alesia, United States District Judge
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
Before the court is respondent's motion to dismiss petitioner's
petition for a writ of habeas corpus. For the following reasons, the court
grants in part and denies in part respondent's motion to dismiss.
On January 9, 1998, a jury in the Circuit Court of Cook County,
Illinois convicted petitioner Pierre Willhite ("Willhite") of
first-degree murder. As a result, Willhite was sentenced to consecutive
terms of imprisonment of sixty years for his murder conviction and an
additional six years for a home invasion conviction. Willhite has filed a
petition for a writ of habeas corpus, alleging that his constitutional
rights were violated at trial and during review of his Illinois
Willhite appealed his conviction and sentence to the Appellate Court of
Illinois, which affirmed the trial court's decision in an order dated
June 14, 1999. Willhite then filed a pro se petition for leave to appeal
to the Supreme Court of Illinois, which was denied on October 6, 1999.
On June 28, 1999, Willhite filed a petition for post-conviction
relief. The Circuit Court of Cook County denied the petition on September
23, 1999. On appeal, Willhite's attorney sought leave to withdraw
pursuant to Pennsylvania v. Finley, 481 U.S. 551 (1987), because he
believed that there were no meritorious issues on appeal. On June 19,
2000, the Appellate Court of Illinois granted the request to withdraw and
affirmed the circuit court's judgment. On July 5, 2000, Willhite filed a
petition for rehearing by the appellate court, which was denied on July
12, 2000. Ultimately, Willhite was granted leave to file a late petition
for leave to appeal to the Supreme Court of Illinois. The supreme court
denied the petition on June 29, 2001.
Willhite filed the instant petition for a writ of habeas corpus,
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254, on June 17, 2002. In his petition, he
raises four claims: (1) the prosecution bolstered its case with hearsay
testimony, in violation of his Sixth Amendment right to confront
witnesses against him; (2) the Circuit Court of Cook County violated his
Fourteenth Amendment Due Process rights by erroneously dismissing his
state court petition for post-conviction relief; (3) he was denied
effective assistance of counsel — in violation of the Sixth and
Fourteenth Amendments — when his attorney withdrew during his
appeal of his state court petition for post-conviction relief; and (4) his
constitutional rights were violated when the circuit court judge
dismissed his petition for post-conviction relief without an evidentiary
hearing. Respondent now moves to dismiss Willhite's petition.
Particularly, respondent argues: (1) Willhite's petition is time-barred
and (2) Willhite's claims are not cognizable under 28 U.S.C. § 2254.
First, the court will determine whether Willhite's petition was timely.
Second, the court will review whether Willhite's claims are cognizable.
A. Standard for Reviewing a Petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus
A petitioner seeking a writ of habeas corpus must establish that the
state court proceeding:
(1) resulted in a decision that was contrary to, or
involved an unreasonable application of, clearly
established Federal law, as determined by the Supreme
Court of the United States; or
(2) resulted in a decision that was based on an
unreasonable determination of the facts in light of
the evidence presented in the State court proceeding.
B. The Timeliness of Willhite's Petition
Respondent argues that the court should dismiss Willhite's petition
because it was not filed within one year of the date that his conviction
became final. Willhite argues in response that his petition was timely
because he was prevented from filing his state-court petition for
post-conviction relief by state-imposed impediments and, therefore, the
statute of limitations did not begin to run until those impediments were
A one-year statute of limitations governs petitions for habeas corpus
for prisoners in state custody. 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d). Relevant to this
motion, that one-year period begins to run from the later of either: (1)
the date on which the judgment became final or (2) the date of removal of
a state-imposed impediment that prevented the petitioner from filing his
petition. 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d)(1)(A), (B). Respondent argues that
section 2244(d)(1)(A) governs this case, but Willhite contends that
section 2244(d)(1)(B) is controlling. The parties do not dispute that the
statute of limitations ran from the time that the Supreme Court of
Illinois denied Willhite's petition for leave to appeal his state court
post-conviction petition on June 29, 2001 until the time that he filed the
instant petition for habeas corpus on June 17, 2002 — a span of 352
days. Therefore, Willhite's ...