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U.S. v. BRILEY

March 15, 2004.

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA ex rel. DAVID WRIGHT, Petitioner,
v.
KENNETH BRILEY, Respondent



The opinion of the court was delivered by: WILLIAM J. HIBBLER, District Judge

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

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.

I. Background

  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 counsel Page 2 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.

 II. Standard of Review

  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 Page 3 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).

 III. Procedural Default

  A. Standard

  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 Page 4 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 ...


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