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U.S. EX REL. JONES v. HOCKADAY

February 4, 2004.

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA ex rel. JEREMY JONES, Petitioner,
v.
DENNIS HOCKADAY, Respondent



The opinion of the court was delivered by: WAYNE ANDERSEN, District Judge

MEMORANDUM, OPINION AND ORDER

This case is before the Court on the petition of Jeremy Jones for writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. For the following reasons, the petition for habeas corpus is denied.

BACKGROUND

  Petitioner does not challenge the statement of facts set forth in the order of the Illinois Appellate Court affirming his first degree murder conviction. People v. Jones, No. 1-96-3841 (1999). For purposes of federal habeas review, "a determination of a factual issue made by a State court shall be presumed to be correct." 28 U.S.C. § 2254(e). Accordingly, we will adopt the facts as our own.

  The evidence presented at trial established that Petitioner was a member of the Blackstone street gang. On May 10, 1995, Petitioner and two of his friends were chased by members of a rival gang, the Gangster Disciples, after the three exited a bus at the CTA terminal located at 95th Street and the Dan Ryan expressway in Chicago, Illinois. Thereafter, Petitioner went to the home of a fellow gang member and obtained a. 22-caliber gun before returning to the Page 2 vicinity of the CTA terminal. While standing in the vacant lot across the street from the station, Petitioner announced that he was "going to pop one of them." Petitioner than crossed the street to the station and joined a group who was discussing a peace treaty between the Blackstones and the Gangster Disciples. The victim, Octavius Seabron, walked up and joined this group. When the other members of the group began shaking hands, Petitioner refused, threw his hands up into the air, and walked away.

  Mr. Seabron called Lynnecia Reid over to the group and asked her for a hug. He then took a couple of steps away from the group and turned to face Ms. Reid. While Mr. Seabron was hugging Ms. Reid, Petitioner shot him in the back of the head and shoulder. Mr. Seabron died of multiple gunshot wounds.

  Petitioner testified that just before he fired the gun, there was a crowd of Gangster Disciples approaching him, yelling and screaming, and he heard something that sounded like a gunshot. This evidence was not corroborated by any of the other witnesses who testified at trial.

  On September 6, 1996, after a jury trial in Cook County, Illinois, Petitioner was convicted of one count of first degree murder. Petitioner was sentenced to a term of 50 years imprisonment. Petitioner appealed his conviction to the Illinois Appellate Court, First Judicial District. In his appellate brief, Petitioner raised the following issues: 1) the prosecution failed to prove his guilt beyond a reasonable doubt; 2) he was deprived of the effective assistance of counsel; and 3) the sentence was excessive. The Illinois Appellate Court affirmed Petitioner's conviction on February 19, 1999. Petitioner did not file a petition for leave to appeal to the Illinois Supreme Court. Page 3

  Petitioner filed a post-conviction petition in the Illinois Circuit Court of Cook County. In his post-conviction petition, he alleged solely that he was denied his constitutional right to effective assistance when trial counsel failed to initiate or pursue plea negotiations. On January 23, 1998, the Circuit Court of Cook County issued a written order denying Petitioner's post-conviction petition, specifically finding that Petitioner's claim was without merit.

  Petitioner appealed to the Illinois Appellate Court. In this appeal of the denial of his post-conviction petition, Petitioner argued that he received ineffective assistance of counsel when counsel failed to pursue plea negotiations. The Illinois Appellate Court affirmed the denial of Petitioner's post-conviction petition.

  Petitioner filed a petition for leave to appeal to the Illinois Supreme Court. In his petition for leave to appeal, Petitioner argued that he was denied due process and his Sixth Amendment right to counsel when counsel failed to conduct plea negotiations. The Illinois Supreme Court denied the petition for leave to appeal.

  Petitioner then filed the instant petition for writ of habeas corpus in this Court. In his habeas petition, Petitioner claims that he received ineffective assistance of counsel and was denied his Fourteenth Amendment due process rights and his Sixth Amendment right of counsel when counsel failed to conduct any plea negotiations.

  DISCUSSION

  Federal courts may issue a writ of habeas corpus if a petitioner demonstrates that he is "in [state] custody in violation of the Constitution or laws or treaties of the United States." 28 U.S.C. § 2245(a); Moffat v. Gilmore, 113 F.3d 698, 702 (7th Cir. 1997); see also Del Vecchio v. Illinois Dept. of Corrections, 31 F.3d 1363, 1370 (7th Cir. 1994) (en bane) ("[F]ederal courts can Page 4 grant habeas relief only when there is a violation of federal statutory or constitutional law."). The federal courts may not grant habeas relief under Section 2254 unless the state court's judgment "(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 ...


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