United States District Court, N.D. Illinois
May 19, 2004.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA ex rel. ROBERT LEE WASHINGTON, Petitioner,
JOE McGRATH, Warden, Pelican Bay Prison, and JAMES E. RYAN, Attorney General, State of Illinois, Respondents
The opinion of the court was delivered by: SAMUEL DER-YEGHIAYAN, District Judge
This matter is before the court on Petitioner Robert Lee Washington's
("Petitioner") 28 U.S.C. § 2254 petition for writ of habeas corpus.
For the reasons stated below we deny the petition.
On April 24, 1996, following a jury trial, Petitioner was convicted of
attempted first degree murder and sentenced to a term of sixty years
imprisonment. Petitioner appealed his conviction to the Illinois
Appellate Court, First Judicial District. On April 14, 1998, the Illinois
Appellate Court affirmed Petitioner's conviction. Petitioner did not file a petition for leave to appeal
to the Supreme Court of the State of Illinois.
On April 2, 1999, Petitioner filed a petition for post-conviction
relief. On April 16, 1999, the trial court denied the petition for
post-conviction relief. On May 26, 1999, Petitioner filed a notice of
appeal to the Illinois Appellate Court, On August 15, 2000, the Illinois
Appellate Court affirmed the denial of Petitioner's post-conviction
petition. On September 16, 2000, Petitioner filed a petition for a
rehearing with the Illinois Appellate Court. On September 22, 2000 the
Illinois Appellate Court denied the petition for rehearing. On October
31, 2000, Petitioner filed a petition for leave to appeal with the
Supreme Court of the State of Illinois. On January 29, 2001, the Supreme
Court of the State of Illinois denied Petitioner's leave to appeal.
A district court may entertain a habeas corpus petition from a "person
in custody pursuant to the judgment of a State court only on the grounds
that he is in custody in violation of the Constitution or laws or
treaties of the United States," 28 U.S.C. § 2254(a). Pursuant to
28 U.S.C. § 2254 a habeas corpus petition shall not be granted:
on behalf of a person in custody pursuant to the
judgment of a State Court . . . unless the
adjudication of the claim . . . (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).
A federal court will not address a question of federal law presented in
a habeas corpus petition brought to contest a state court ruling if "the
state decision rests on a state procedural ground that is independent of
the federal question and adequate to support the judgment." Page v.
Frank, 343 F.3d 901
, 905 (7th Cir. 2003). In order to avoid a
procedural default on a claim presented in a habeas corpus petition the
petitioner must "give the state courts one full opportunity to resolve
any constitutional issues by invoking one complete round of the State's
established appellate review process," Howard v. O'Sullivan,
185 F.3d 721
, 725 (7th Cir. 1999) (quoting O'Sullivan v. Boerckel,
526 U.S. 838
, 845 (1999)).
Initially, Petitioner raised two claims on direct appeal to the
Illinois Appellate Court. The Illinois Appellate Court affirmed the
judgment of the trial court on appeal, but the Petitioner did not file a
petition for leave to appeal that decision to the Supreme Court of the
State of Illinois.
Because Petitioner failed to appeal the Illinois Appellate Court's
decision as to the two claims raised on direct appeal, those two claims
are now procedurally defaulted.
Petitioner also raised claims in a Petition for post-conviction relief
with the trial court. After the trial court denied Petitioner's petition
for post-conviction relief, Petitioner appealed to the Illinois Appellate Court. The Illinois
Appellate Court affirmed the trial court's judgment and further stated
that Petitioner's brief "fails to identify and argue even a single
alleged constitutional violation," Resp, Ex, E p. 6. Thereafter, the
Illinois Appellate Court denied Petitioner's request for a rehearing.
Petitioner then filed a petition for leave to appeal with the Supreme
Court of the State of Illinois. The Supreme Court of the State of
Illinois denied the petition for leave to appeal.
Because the Illinois State Courts found that Petitioner failed to
identify or argue a single alleged constitutional violation within his
petition for post-conviction relief, the remaining claims which
Petitioner has included in this habeas petition are procedurally
A federal court can review defaulted claims if the petitioner "shows
cause for failure to raise them at the appropriate time and actual
prejudice which resulted from such failure" or, "[a]bsent such a showing,
a defaulted claim is reviewable only if refusal to consider it would
result in a `fundamental miscarriage of justice . . .'" Rodriguez v.
Scillia, 193 F.3d 913, 917 (7th Cir. 1999). Petitioner contends that
the reason for his failure to raise his claims in the State courts are
because of deficient attorney conduct, Illinois' obligation to effective
post-conviction counsel, and denial of access to the courts. A review of
the record reflects that Petitioner's petition for post-conviction relief
was considered by the Illinois Appellate Court and denied due to
procedural defaults. The Supreme Court having considered the petition for leave to appeal and being fully advised of the premises, denied
the petition for leave to appeal. See Coleman v. Thompson,
501 U.S. 722, 750 (1991)(stating: "In all cases in which a state prisoner has
defaulted his federal claims in state court pursuant to an independent
and adequate state procedural rule, federal habeas review of the claims
is barred unless the prisoner can demonstrate cause for the default and
actual prejudice as a result of the alleged violation of federal law, or
demonstrate that failure to consider the claims will result in a
fundamental miscarriage of justice.") A state court's finding of
procedural default bars federal review if the ground upon which the
default was based is not "infrequently, unexpectedly, or freakishly
applied," but is "firmly established and regularly followed." Thomas
v. McCaughtry, 201 F.3d 995, 1000 (7th Cir. 2000), Petitioner has
failed to demonstrate that the procedural default which was applied to
preclude his claim under Illinois law was the type that is sporadically
applied. Williams v. Lane, 826 F.2d 654, 659 (7th Cir. 1987).
Petitioner has also failed to sufficiently establish a sufficient cause
for his default and actual prejudice from such default. In addition,
Petitioner has not proven that there would be a miscarriage of justice if
we did not consider these procedurally defaulted claims.
Based on the foregoing analysis, we deny the petition for writ of
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