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LATINE v. JAIMET

April 1, 2003

KHLONG LATINE PETITIONER,
v.
DANNY JAIMET, WARDEN OF JACKSONVILLE CORRECTIONAL CENTER RESPONDENT



The opinion of the court was delivered by: James F. Holderman, United States District Judge.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

On December 24, 2002, petitioner Khlong Latine ("Latine") filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. For the following reasons, Latine's petition for habeas relief is denied.

BACKGROUND

Latine is currently incarcerated at the Jacksonville Correctional Center. On September 8, 1999, after a bench trial in the Circuit Court of Kane County, Latine was found guilty of armed violence and sentenced to a term of fifteen years imprisonment. Although Latine was initially charged with a separate count of possession of a stolen vehicle, the trial court merged this count into the armed violence count. On direct appeal to the Appellate Court of Illinois, Second District, Latine's appouned counsel raised only the issue of whether the State proved the offense of unlawful possession of a stolen motor vehicle beyond a reasonable doubt. Subsequently, pursuant to Latine's motion to file a supplemental brief, the Illinois Appellate Court on June 21, 2001, allowed Latine to file a supplemental brief and represent himself pro se in the appeals process, and discharged the State Appellate Defender as Latine's attorney of record.

On May 18, 2001, Latine filed his supplemental brief on direct appeal raising the following issues: (1) whether Latine was proven guilty of the offense of a stolen automobile and whether the State failed to prove the automobile was actually stolen; (2) whether Latine was proven guilty of the offense of armed violence; (3) whether Latine was denied a fair trial by the admission of other crimes evidence; (4) whether trial counsel was ineffective for allowing the admission of other evidence; (5) whether prosecutorial misconduct denied Latine the right to a fair trial; (6) whether the trial court committed reversible error in allowing other crimes evidence. The Illinois Appellate Court affirmed Latine's conviction and sentence in an order issued on March 19, 2002.

Latine then filed a petition for leave to appeal to the Illinois Supreme Court and raised three issues: (1) whether the indictment was sufficient; (2) whether Latine was proven guilty of the offense of armed violence offense; (3) whether Latine was proven guilty of the offense of unlawful possession of a stolen automobile. In addition, Latine states that he "[stood] by the arguments presented on appeal concerning the claims of ineffective assistance of counsel, prosecutorial misconduct and error of trial court." (Resp.'s Answer to Pet for Habeas Corpus, Ex. I. at 13.) On October 2, 2002, the Illinois Supreme Court denied Latine's petition for leave to appeal. Latine did not seek any post conviction relief in the Circuit Court of Kane County.

On December 24, 2002, Latine filed the instant petition for writ of habeas corpus, arguing that: (1) he was not proven guilty of the offense of unlawful possession of a stolen motor vehicle; (2) he was not proven guilty of the offense of armed violence; (3) he was denied a fair trial by the admission of other crimes evidence; (4) he was denied the effective assistance of counsel when he failed to object to the admission of other crimes; (5) prosecutorial misconduct denied him the right to a fair trial; and (6) the trial court committed reversible error when it allowed other crimes to be admitted into evidence.

STANDARD OF REVIEW

A federal court may grant a writ of habeas corpus on behalf of a prisoner held in custody pursuant to a state court judgment only if the petitioner is held in custody in violation of the Constitution, laws or treaties of the United States. 28 U.S.C. § 2254 (a). it follows that errors of state law are irrelevant unless they resulted in the deprivation of a constitutional or federal right. See Estelle v. McGuire, 502 U.S. 62, 67-68, 112 S.Ct. 475 (1991) ("it is not the province of a federal habeas court to reexamine state-court determinations on state-law questions"); Perry v. McCaughtry, 308 F.3d 682, 688 (7th Cir. 2002). And it must be kept in mind that "the Constitution entitles a criminal defendant to a fair trial, not a perfect one." Delaware v. Van Arsdall, 475 U.S. 673, 681 (1986); Todd v. Schomig, 283 F.3d 842, 850 (7th Cir. 2002).

Prior to the court's consideration of a petitioner's claims on the merits, a habeas petitioner must meet several distinct procedural requirements. A habeas petitioner must first have given the state's highest court an opportunity to address each claim. See O'Sullivan v. Boerekel, 526 U.S. 838, 841-42, 119 S.Ct. 1728 (1999); Mahaffey v. Schomig, 294 F.3d 907, 914-15 (7th Cir. 2002). To satisfy this requirement, a petitioner must present to the state judiciary both the operative facts and legal principles that control each claim. See Mahaffey, 294 F.3d at 914-15. A petitioner must comply with state rules to avoid procedurally defaulting his claims, see id., and each claim must have been "fairly presented," in the manner prescribed by state law, apprising the state courts of the facts and law supporting each claim. Sullivan, 526 U.S. at 848, 119 S.Ct. 1728. A constitutional claim presented to the state courts solely in state-law terms may be found to have been forfeited. See Wilson v. Briley, 243 F.3d 325, 327-28 (7th Cir. 2001); Moleterno v. Nelson, 114 F.3d 629, 634 (7th Cir. 1997).

Accordingly, procedural default can occur where: (1) the petitioner presents an issue within a petition never before presented to the state court for review, see Rodriguez v. Peters, 63 F.3d 546, 555 (7th Cir. 1995); (2) the petitioner failed to properly and fairly raise the federal element of an issue now presented on petition first to the state court for review see Verdin v. O'Leary, 972 F.2d 1467, 1472 (7th Cir. 1992); or (3) the state court previously disposed of an issue now presented on petition on an independent and adequate state law ground, such as a state procedural bar, see Coleman v. Thompson, 501 U.S. 722, 729, 111 S.Ct. 2546 (1991). A federal court may excuse a procedural default if a petitioner can show either cause for the default and prejudice arising from failure to review the claims, or that failure to review the claims on procedural grounds would result in a fundamental miscarriage of justice. See Mahaffey, 294 F.3d at 914-15.

Once these prerequisites have been met and a federal court reaches the merits of a petitioner's claims, the court may grant a writ of habeas corpus on a claim decided on the merits by the state courts only if the state courts' rejection of that claim either (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. 28 U.S.C. § 2254 (d). Further, 28 U.S.C. § 2254 (e)(1) provides that determinations of factual issues by state courts are presumed correct, and may be rebutted only by clear and convincing evidence.

A state-court decision is contrary to Supreme Court precedent if the state court arrives at a conclusion opposite to that reached by the Supreme Court on a question of law. See Williams v. Taylor, 529 U.S. 362, 405, 120 S.Ct. 1495, 519 (2000). Second, a state-court decision is also contrary to Supreme Court precedent if the state court confronts facts that are materially indistinguishable from a relevant Supreme Court precedent and arrives at a different result. See id. To demonstrate that a state court decision resulted in an "unreasonable application" of Supreme Court precedent, a ...


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