The opinion of the court was delivered by: WILLIAM J. HIBBLER, District Judge
Petitioner David Wright filed a pro se petition for a writ
of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. For the
following reasons, Wright's petition is DENIED.
On March 25, 1994, Robert Smith and Tyrone Rockett decided to go out to
purchase soft drinks and cookies. A short time later, they were shot in
the head, execution-style. Following a jury trial in the Circuit Court of
Cook County, on November 1, 1996, Wright was convicted of two counts of
first degree murder in the Circuit Court of Cook County. He received a
sentence of natural life in prison. Wright, through counsel, appealed his
conviction and sentence to the Illinois Appellate Court ("direct
appeal"). On February 5, 1998, the Illinois Appellate Court affirmed
Wright's convictions and sentence. Wright, through counsel, then filed a
petition for leave to appeal in the Illinois Supreme Court ("PLA"). The
Illinois Supreme Court denied Wright's petition for leave to appeal on
June 3, 1998.
On May 12, 1998, Wright filed a petition for post-conviction relief
("post-conviction petition"). On June 23, 1999, Wright's petition for
post-conviction relief was dismissed as frivolous and without merit. When
Wright appealed this dismissal to the Illinois Appellate Court, his
filed a motion to withdraw as counsel ("collateral appeal"). On
March 15, 2000, the Illinois Appellate Court granted Wright's attorney's
motion for leave to withdraw and affirmed the judgment of the trial
court. Wright then filed a pro se petition for leave to appeal
in the Illinois Supreme Court ("PLA"). The Illinois Supreme Court denied
Wright's PLAII on July 5, 2000. Wright filed the instant pro se
petition for writ of habeas corpus on September 18, 2000.
In his § 2254 petition, he contends that: (1) his Fourth, Fifth,
Sixth, Eighth and Fourteenth Amendment rights were violated in connection
with "the proceedings relative to his arrest[,] trial and conviction,
[and] sentencing;" (2) there was insufficient evidence to convict him;
(3) his trial counsel and his appellate counsel on direct appeal were
ineffective; (4) his post-conviction counsel was ineffective because he
did not contend that counsel in Wright's direct proceedings was
ineffective; and (5) the trial court erred when it denied Wright's motion
to suppress his six post-arrest statements. The Court will discuss the
key details of Wright's state court proceedings when it addresses the
merits of his habeas petition.
Under the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996
("AEDPA"), 28 U.S.C. § 2254, a habeas petitioner is not
entitled to a writ of habeas corpus unless the challenged state
court decision is either "contrary to" or "an unreasonable application of
clearly established federal law as determined by the United States
Supreme Court. See 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d)(1); Williams v.
Taylor, 529 U.S. 362, 404-05 (2000). In Williams, the
Supreme Court explained that a state court's decision is "contrary to"
clearly established Supreme Court law "if the state court arrives at a
conclusion opposite to that reached by the Court on a question of law" or
"if the state court confronts facts that
are materially indistinguishable from a relevant Supreme Court
precedent and arrives at a result opposite to ours." Id. at 405.
A state court's decision is an "unreasonable application" of federal
law under § 2254(d)(1), if the state court identified the correct
legal rule but unreasonably applied it to the facts of the case.
Id. at 407. See also Matheney v. Anderson,
253 F.3d 1025, 1041 (7th Cir. 2001), The state court's application of Supreme
Court precedent must be "objectively" unreasonable. See Lockyer v.
Andrade, 538 U.S. 63, 75 (2003) (unreasonable application must be
more than incorrect or erroneous), In order to be considered unreasonable
under this standard, a state court's decision must lie "well outside the
boundaries of permissible differences of opinion." Hardaway v.
Young, 302 F.3d 757, 762 (7th Cir. 2002); see also Searcy v.
Jaimet, 332 F.3d 1081, 1089 (7th Cir. 2003) (decision need not be
well reasoned or fully reasoned and is reasonable if it is one of several
equally plausible outcomes); Schultz v. Page, 313 F.3d 1010,
1015 (7th Cir. 2002) (reasonable state court decision must be minimally
consistent with facts and circumstances of the case).
The Court does not reach the merits of Wright's federal habeas
claims because Wright's claims are procedurally defaulted. In order to
raise a constitutional challenge to a state court conviction and sentence
in a federal habeas proceeding, the petitioner must have fully
and adequately presented the challenge to the state courts, such that the
state courts have an opportunity to act on each of the petitioner's
claims before he presents them to a federal court. O'Sullivan v.
Boerckel, 526 U.S. 838, 842, 844 (1999); Mahaffey v.
Schomig, 294 F.3d 907, 914-15 (7th Cir. 2002); Chambers v.
McCaughtry, 264 F.3d 732, 737-38 (7th Cir. 2001). State remedies are
exhausted when the claims are presented to the state's highest court for
a ruling on the merits or
when no means of pursuing review remain available.
Boerckel, 526 U.S. at 844-45, 847; 28 U.S.C. § 2254(c).
Here, Wright has exhausted his state court remedies because no state
court relief is available to him at this stage in the proceedings.
However, a petitioner's claims are also procedurally defaulted where a
state court relied upon an adequate and independent state procedural
ground as the basis for its decision, barring the petitioner from raising
that claim in a federal habeas corpus review. Stewart v.
Smith, 536 U.S. 856 (2002); Harris v. Reed, 489 U.S. 255
(1989); Perry v. McCaughtry, 308 F.3d 682, 690 (7th Cir. 2002);
Aliwoli v. Gilmore, 127 F.3d 632, 633 (7th Cir. 1997). In
addition, if an Illinois appellate court finds that a claim is waived,
that holding constitutes an independent and adequate state ground.
Rodriquez v. McAdory, 318 F.3d 733, 735 (7th Cir. 2003).
Wright's claims are procedurally defaulted for these reasons.
A petitioner can cure his procedural default in a federal habeas
corpus proceeding by showing good cause for the default and actual
prejudice resulting from the errors he alleges, or by demonstrating that
failure to consider the claim will result in a fundamental miscarriage of
justice. Edwards v. Carpenter, 529 U.S. 446, 451 (2000);
Coleman v. Thompson, 501 U.S. 722, 750 (1991); Dellinger v.
Bowen, 301 F.3d 758, 764 (7th Cir. 2002). Cause exists where "some
objective factor external to the defense impeded [the petitioner's]
efforts to comply with the State's procedural rule." Strickler v.
Greene, 527 U.S. 263, 282 (1999). The fundamental miscarriage of
justice exception is also inapplicable because "this relief is limited to
situations where the constitutional violation has probably resulted in ...