The opinion of the court was delivered by: HARRY LEINENWEBER, District Judge
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
Petitioner Jerry Strawhorn (hereinafter, "Strawhorn"), pro se,
petitions the Court under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 to Vacate, Set Aside,
or Correct his sentence.
On May 9, 1997, a jury convicted Strawhorn on all counts
relating to his involvement with the Gangster Disciples (the
"GDs") street gang, including drug conspiracy charges pursuant to
21 U.S.C. § 846, and operating a continuing criminal enterprise
pursuant to 21 U.S.C. § 848. On July 9, 1998, the Court sentenced
Strawhorn to numerous concurrent terms of life imprisonment.
On April 12, 2001, Strawhorn appealed to the Seventh Circuit
and the District Court's decision was affirmed. Subsequently
Strawhorn filed a petition for certiorari with the United States
Supreme Court, which was denied on June 28, 2002.
On June 12, 2003, Strawhorn filed his § 2255 petition.
Strawhorn's petition puts forth 26 claims. Many of these factual situations have come up in the habeas corpus petitions of other
GDs and the Court has held that these situations did not
prejudice the petitioners. Strawhorn does not sufficiently
demonstrate why the Court should rule differently here.
Strawhorn's claims can be regrouped around five distinct claims
which Strawhorn believes entitle him to relief under § 2255:
1. Strawhorn's trial counsel proved constitutionally
ineffective for multiple reasons. This is a multifaceted claim
which several distinct errors by trial counsel, including:
a. failing to notify Strawhorn that she was facing
Illinois Attorney Registration and Disciplinary (the
"ARDC") charges before the jury's verdict;
b. failing to negotiate a plea for petitioner;
c. misadvising Strawhorn that he must go to trial;
d. misinforming petitioner that taking the stand was
his ultimate decision to make;
e. failing to prepare petitioner to take witness
stand in his own defense;
f. failing to secure testimony that would have
exculpated petitioner from intimidation charges;
g. failing to file particularized motions leading to
h. failing to communicate with Strawhorn prior,
during, and after trial and before sentencing was
i. failing to object to misrepresentations in the
pre-sentence report; j. failing to object to use of intimidation charge to
add one point to Strawhorn's Criminal History Score;
k. failing to discuss pre-sentence report with
Strawhorn before his sentencing, in violation of FED.
R. CRIM. PRO. 32;
l. failing to actively participate in compilation of
m. failing to challenge the allegations based on
vicarious liability for acts committed by other gang
n. failing to investigate Strawhorn's financial
situation to rebut presumption that Strawhorn derived
substantial income from illegal activities; and
o. failing to submit tapes where Strawhorn's voice
was in question to a voice stress analysis to
determine true speaker;
2. Strawhorn's appellate counsel was ineffective for failing to
object to ineffective trial counsel;
3. The Court did not have sufficient evidence to convict
Strawhorn of conspiracy pursuant to § 848;
4. The Court denied him a fair sentence when it used his past
convictions for unlawful use of a weapon and intimidation to
determine his current sentence; and
5. Strawhorn was unfairly prejudiced by pre-trial publicity.
Larry Hoover, Tirenzy Wilson, Gregory Shell, Jerry Strawhorn,
Adrian Bradd, Darrell Branch, Andrew Howard, and William Edwards
were charged and convicted in 1998 of numerous offenses relating
to their participation in activities of the GDs, a large street gang
that sold sizable quantities of cocaine, heroin, and other drugs.
In total, the gang's receipts from illegal activity totaled more
than $100 million per year. Strawhorn served as a "governor" of
the GDs, a rank that placed him in charge of the ...