United States District Court, N.D. Illinois
March 28, 2004.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA ex rel. LaDARRYL HANNON Petitioner,
MARK A. PIERSON, Respondent
The opinion of the court was delivered by: WILLIAM J. HIBBLER, District Judge
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
LaDarryl Hannon ("Petitioner") was convicted by an Illinois jury of
first-degree murder and sentenced to thirty-eight years in prison. After
the Illinois Appellate Court affirmed his conviction and the Illinois
Supreme Court denied his petition for leave to appeal, Petitioner filed
this pro se petition for writ of habeas corpus pursuant to
28 U.S.C. § 2254. Petitioner claims that the trial court abused its
discretion by allowing the prosecutor to cross-examine his mother on
matters outside her direct testimony and that his trial counsel was
ineffective for failing to move to quash his arrest For the following
reasons, Petitioner's petition for writ of habeas corpus is DENIED.
I. Factual Background
When ruling on a petition for writ of habeas corpus, the Court presumes
that the factual findings of the state court are correct. Mahaffey v.
Schomig, 294 F.3d 907, 915 (7th Cir. 2002); 28 U.S.C. § 2254(e)(1).
Because Petitioner does not challenge the Illinois Appellate
Court's factual determinations in his petition, the Court adopts the
facts as set forth in People v. Hannon, No.
1-97-0543 (Ill.App. Ct Mar. 31, 1999) (unpublished Rule 23 Order).
On June 3, 1993, the body of Elizabeth Reeves was found, fatally
shot. Detective Foley investigated the scene. At trial, Foley testified
that during his investigation he spoke to a police sergeant at the scene,
who gave Foley Petitioner's phone number because he was a potential
witness. Foley went to talk with Petitioner, who was 15 years old at the
time. Foley showed him a picture of the victim. Petitioner said he
recognized the victim but did not know her name, that he had seen two
individuals running from the crime scene on June 2, and that he had not
been at the crime scene the day the body was found.
On June 5, 1993, Foley returned to Petitioner's home and asked him to
come to the police station to identify the individuals he saw running
from the scene. Petitioner agreed. Foley informed Petitioner's aunt and
asked her to contact Petitioner's mother. Foley placed Petitioner in his
squad car and gave him Miranda warnings. Foley then confronted
Petitioner, saying he believed Petitioner had lied to him about not being
at the crime scene the day the body was found because a sergeant had
spoken to Petitioner on the scene. Petitioner admitted he had lied and
then said he was present when the victim was shot. Foley men took
Petitioner to the police station, where the Petitioner made a second
statement in front of a youth officer. Foley then called an assistant
state's attorney, Peggy Chaimpas, and Petitioner's mother.
After Petitioner and his mother spoke for half an hour, Petitioner gave
a written statement to Chaimpas. At trial, Chaimpas testified that she
took the statement from Petitioner in the presence of his mother, the
youth officer, Foley, and Foley's partner. Chaimpas wrote out the
statement and made corrections, which were signed and initialed by the
Petitioner and his mother. In the statement, Petitioner confessed that he
had shot the victim. Petitioner stated that he was a member of the Black
Disciples street gang and that on the night of June 2, 1993, he left
home around 11:30 p.m. with two members of the gang, went to the victim's
house, and fired six shots at the victim.
Before trial, Petitioner's counsel moved to suppress Petitioner's
statements on the grounds that Petitioner was incapable of understanding
the Miranda warnings, and therefore the statements were involuntarily
given. Psychological tests were ordered. At the suppression hearing, the
parties stipulated that Dr. Michael Rabin would testify that he attempted
to examine the Petitioner on December 8, 1995, but that he was
uncooperative. Dr. Rabin was unable to form an opinion on whether
Petitioner understood the Miranda warnings because Petitioner refused to
answer questions, and he denied knowing the charge against him, whether
he had an attorney, and even his own date of birth. A second doctor, Dr.
Roni Seltzberg, examined the Petitioner on August 22, 1996, and
determined that Petitioner had a history of learning disabilities, but
that on the date of examination Petitioner was able to comprehend his
Miranda rights. The trial court denied the motion to suppress the
statements, stating, "it is apparent . . . that the defendant is
attempting to avoid the results of his statement, which was freely
and voluntarily given."
At trial, Petitioner's mother testified that Petitioner was home the
night of June 2, 1993. Petitioner's mother testified that she was
watching TV and was certain Petitioner did not leave the house between
10:30 p.m. and 2:30 a.m. On cross-examination, the prosecutor asked the
mother about her silence when she was in the room while Petitioner gave
his statement confessing to murder. Defense counsel objected that the
State was not trying to impeach the mother, but rather was trying to
bolster the authenticity of the statement. The court overruled the
objection. The mother said she saw the state's attorney writing down what
her son was saying, but that she was not paying attention because she was
crying and telling her son to tell the truth. The prosecutor also
asked the mother if she ever told the police that her son was with her on
June 2. The mother answered, "they didn't even ask me none of that." The
mother also said she signed the statement and initialed the corrections,
but did not read it.
II. Procedural History
The jury found Petitioner guilty of first-degree murder, and the trial
judge sentenced him to 38 years in prison. On direct appeal, Petitioner
raised two issues: (1) that the trial court abused its discretion in
allowing the prosecutor to cross-examine his mother regarding her actions
while he confessed; and (2) that he was denied effective assistance of
counsel because his attorney at trial should have moved to quash his
arrest as unlawful. The Illinois Appellate Court affirmed Petitioner's
conviction and sentence on March 31, 1997. The appellate court found that
the State properly impeached Petitioner's mother with her failure to
speak to the police when her son made a confession known to her to be
false. The appellate court also found that Petitioner's assistance of
counsel was not ineffective because his attorney did file a pre-trial
motion to suppress his confession and actively challenged the veracity of
the confession during trial. OnOctober 28, 1999, the Illinois Supreme
Court denied Petitioner's petition for leave to appeal from the decision
of the state appellate court.
On December 13, 1999, Petitioner petitioned this Court for a writ of
habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. In his pro se
petition, Petitioner again raised the following issues: (1) the trial
court abused its discretion in allowing the prosecutor to cross-examine
his mother regarding her actions while he confessed, and (2) he was
denied effective assistance of counsel because his attorney at trial
should have moved to quash his arrest as unlawful.
III. Standard of Review
Because Petitioner filed his petition after the effective date of the
Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 (AEDPA),
28 U.S.C. § 2254, this statute governs the grant of a writ of habeas corpus.
Lindh v. Murphy, 521 U.S. 320, 336 (1997); Hardaway v.
Young, 302 F.3d 757, 761 (7th Cir. 2002). A petitioner is only
entitled to a writ of habeas corpus if 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. Williams v. Taylor, 529 U.S. 362, 404-05 (2000).
A state court's decision is "contrary to" clearly established federal law
"if the state court applies a rule that contradicts the governing law set
forth" by the Supreme Court. Id. at 405-06. In order to show
that a law was unreasonably applied by the state court, the petitioner
must show that the court identified the correct legal rule, but
unreasonably applied it to the facts of the case. Id. at 407;
Matheney v. Anderson, 253 F.3d 1025, 1041 (7th Cir. 2001).
A. Petitioner's allegation that the trial court abused its
discretion in allowing the prosecutor to cross-examine his mother
regarding her actions while he confessed.
Petitioner alleges that the trial court abused its discretion when it
allowed the State to cross-examine his mother regarding her actions while
he confessed. Cross-examination is the primary way to test the
credibility of a witness and the truth of his or her testimony. Davis
v. Alaska, 415 U.S. 308, 316 (1974). "Subject always to the broad
discretion of a trial judge to preclude repetitive and unduly harassing
interrogation, the cross-examiner is not only permitted to delve into the
witness' story to test the witness' perceptions and memory, but the
cross-examiner has traditionally been allowed to impeach, i. e.,
discredit, the witness." Id. A prosecutor may even
impeach a defense witness by that witness' prior silence, without
any constitutional violation. See United States v. Zouras,
497 F.2d 1115, 1120 (7th Cir. 1974), (citing Couch v. United States,
409 U.S. 322, 328 (1973) ("The Constitution explicitly prohibits
compelling an accused to bear witness "against himself'; it necessarily
does not proscribe incriminating statements elicited from another."))
Petitioner has not shown that allowing the State to cross-examine
Petitioner's mother regarding her failure to tell police of his alibi was
either "contrary to" or "an unreasonable application of" clearly
established federal law. Rather, the state court acted in accordance with
the cases that hold it is proper to impeach a defense witness by that
witness' prior silence. Zouras, 497 F.2d at 1120. Petitioner's
counsel objected to the line of questioning as being outside the scope of
the direct testimony and an improper attempt to bolster the authenticity
of the Petitioner's statement. The trial court overruled Petitioner's
objection. On appeal, the Illinois Appellate Court found that the State
properly impeached Petitioner's mother with her failure to tell the alibi
to the police when present at the police station while her son confessed
to murder. The state appellate court also concluded that the fact that
she told her son to tell the truth further impeached her testimony
because it was inconsistent with her failure to speak when her son
confessed to something she knew to be false. This Court agrees with the
state appellate court and finds that the cross-examination of
Petitioner's mother was proper impeachment that went directly to her
credibility and the veracity of her testimony. Therefore, the trial court
did not abuse its discretion.
B. Petitioner's allegation that he was denied effective
assistance of counsel because his attorney at trial should have moved to
quash his arrest as unlawful.
Petitioner next alleges that he was denied effective assistance of
counsel because his attorney at trial should have moved to quash his
arrest as unlawful. In Williams, the Supreme Court identified
the Strickland test as the proper standard of review for
ineffective assistance of counsel. 529 U.S. at 390. To establish
ineffective assistance of counsel, a defendant must show both that: (1)
his attorney's performance was ineffective; and (2) he was prejudiced as
a result. Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668, 688, 694
(1984). Under the first prong, ineffective performance exists when an
attorney's actions fall below an objective standard of reasonableness.
Id. at 688. The reviewing court must determine if the
attorney's actions were within the range of professional competence
demanded of attorneys in criminal cases, id. at 687, or part
of sound trial strategy. Id. at 689. Under the second prong, a
defendant's case is prejudiced when there is a reasonable probability
that if not for the attorney's ineffective performance, the result in
the case would be different. Id. at 694.
The appellate court correctly identified the Strickland test
as the standard for review of ineffective assistance of counsel. Under
the first prong of the test, the court found that Petitioner's assistance
of counsel was not ineffective because his attorney did file a pre-trial
motion to suppress his confession and actively challenged the veracity of
the confession during trial. His attorney ordered psychological tests and
presented testimony on Petitioner's inability to comprehend the Miranda
warnings. At trial, the attorney presented alibi witnesses and advocated
his client's position that he gave a false confession to increase his
standing in the gang. The appellate court found that trial counsel did
not have to raise every conceivable issue, and that Petitioner's attorney
had vigorously represented his client. The Court agrees and finds that
Petitioner's counsel was not ineffective. The appellate court's decision
was not "contrary to" or "an unreasonable application" oil clearly
established federal law.
Moreover, even if his counsel was found to be ineffective, Petitioner
is unable to meet the
second part of the Strickland test, showing that he was
prejudiced by counsel's error. In this case, Petitioner gave three
voluntary statements to police saying he shot the victim, and
corroborating testimony put him at the scene of the crime. Also, while
Petitioner now asserts that he was unlawfully arrested at his home by
police, Petitioner testified at the pre-trial hearing that his place of
arrest was the police station, and that the reason the police wanted him
to accompany them to the station was because he was a witness. Once
Petitioner was in the vehicle, he confessed to lying to police and told
officers he had been present when the victim was shot. Once officers
heard this, they had probable cause to arrest him. Based on this
evidence, if Petitioner's attorney had moved to quash his arrest at his
home as unlawful, this motion would have been without merit. Therefore,
the attorney's failure to bring this motion would not have changed the
result in the case, and thus the Petitioner was not prejudiced.
As such, Petitioner has not met the Williams criteria of
showing that the court failed to identify the correct law, or that the
court unreasonably applied the correct law to the facts of the case. On
the contrary, the Illinois Appellate Court properly identified and
utilized the Strickland test. Therefore, the state court
decision on the ineffective assistance of counsel claim is not "contrary
to" or "an unreasonable application of clearly established federal law as
determined by the Supreme Court under Williams.
Both of Petitioner's claims are without merit. His petition is
therefore DENIED, and this case is dismissed with prejudice.
IT IS SO ORDERED
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