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ENIS v. SCHOMIG

September 29, 2004.

ANTHONY ENIS, Petitioner,
v.
JAMES SCHOMIG Respondent.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: SAMUEL DER-YEGHIAYAN, District Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION

This matter is before the court on Anthony Enis' ("Petitioner") Second Amended Petition for writ of habeas corpus ("Petition") pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254, and Petitioner's motion for discovery. For the reasons stated below, we deny the Petition and the motion for discovery.

BACKGROUND

  Petitioner was convicted of the murder of Merlinda Entrata ("Entrata") and sentenced to death in a jury trial in the Circuit Court, Lake County, Illinois ("trial court"). Petitioner appealed his conviction and sentence of death, and the Supreme Court of Illinois reversed the conviction and remanded the case to the trial court for a new trial and new sentencing hearing. People v. Enis, 564 N.E.2d 1155, 1170 (Ill. 1990) ("Enis I"). On remand, Petitioner was again convicted of the murder of Entrata and sentenced to death in a jury trial in the trial court. Petitioner appealed his conviction and sentence and the Supreme Court of Illinois affirmed the trial court. People v. Enis, 645 N.E.2d 856, 877 (Ill. 1994) ("Enis II"). The Supreme Court of Illinois subsequently denied a rehearing. Petitioner filed a petition for writ of certiorari in the United States Supreme Court. However, the Court denied writ of certiorari, Enis v. Illinois, 516 U.S. 827, 827 (1995). Thereafter, Petitioner filed a pro se Petition for Post-Conviction Relief in the trial court. Petitioner, with assistance of counsel, then filed an amended and supplemented Petition for Post-Conviction Relief ("Amended Petition for Post-Conviction Relief") in the trial court. The trial court dismissed Petitioner's Amended Petition for Post-Conviction Relief. Petitioner then appealed the trial court's dismissal of his Amended Petition for Post-Conviction Relief, and the Supreme Court of Illinois affirmed the trial court. People v. Enis, 743 N.E.2d 1, 32 (Ill. 2000) ("Enis III"). The Supreme Court of Illinois subsequently denied a rehearing. Petitioner filed a petition for writ of certiorari with respect to the dismissal of Petitioner's Amended Petition for Post-Conviction Relief with the United States Supreme Court. However, the Court denied writ of certiorari. See Enis v. Schomig, 533 U.S. 908, 908 (2001).

  In January 2003, the former governor of Illinois commuted Petitioner's death sentence to a sentence of life without parole. LEGAL STANDARD

  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(d):
An application for a writ of habeas corpus on behalf of a person in custody pursuant to the judgment of a State court shall not be granted with respect to any claim that was adjudicated on the merits in State court proceedings 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).

  DISCUSSION

  I. Request For Evidentiary Hearing

  Petitioner has asked this court to hold an evidentiary hearing and has made generalized assertions that the trial court's fact finding procedures were inadequate, that the trial court did not adequately develop the material facts at trial, and that the trial court did not provide him with a full, fair, and adequate hearing. Petitioner has also specifically requested an evidentiary hearing in Claim III of his petition, relating to ineffective assistance of counsel, and also in Claim VII of his petition, relating to alleged Brady discovery violations. Brady v. Maryland, 373 U.S. 83, 87 (1963) (holding that "the suppression of evidence favorable to an accused upon request violates due process where the material is material either to guilt or to punishment").

  After Petitioner was convicted and sentenced again upon remand, the trial court denied Petitioner's Amended Petition for Post-Conviction Relief without conducting an evidentiary hearing. In its opinion addressing Petitioner's Amended Petition for Post-Conviction Relief, the Supreme Court of Illinois addressed Petitioner's claim of ineffective assistance of counsel and noted that the mitigating evidence that Petitioner included "largely duplicates or is cumulative of the evidence introduced at defendant's sentencing hearing." Enis III, 743 N.E.2d at 11-26, 30. The Supreme Court of Illinois concluded that the trial court "did not err in dismissing this claim without an evidentiary hearing." Id. at 30. The Supreme Court of Illinois also addressed Petitioner's claim of a Brady discovery violation when the trial court denied his request for files of the Waukegan Police Department regarding the victim and the Petitioner. The Supreme Court of Illinois noted that Petitioner never before alleged that a Brady discovery violation had occurred after either his original trial or re-trial, and that his request for such information "was little more than a fishing expedition." Id. at 31.

  Petitioner has failed to establish that he was precluded from developing the factual basis for his claims in the trial court. A federal court in habeas review is "not an alternative forum for trying facts and issues which a prisoner made insufficient effort to pursue in state proceedings." Williams v. Taylor, 529 U.S. 420, 437 (2000). Even so a federal court is authorized under 28 U.S.C. § 2242, 28 U.S.C. § 2254(e)(2), and Rule 8(a) of the Rules Governing Section 2254 Cases to order an evidentiary hearing in a habeas corpus action brought pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254(a). A federal court must hold an evidentiary hearing "if the petitioner has alleged facts that would entitle him to relief and the state courts, for reasons beyond his control, did not consider his claim in a full and fair hearing." United States ex rel. Hampton v. Leibach, 347 F.3d 219, 234-35 (7th Cir. 2003) (citing Townsend v. Sain, 372 U.S. 293, 312-13 (1963)). The Seventh Circuit defines a "full and fair hearing" as a hearing "that afforded the petitioner a complete opportunity to present the facts relevant to his constitutional claim." Id. In addition, the Seventh Circuit has made it clear that "[a] hearing is not necessary if the petitioner makes conclusory or speculative allegations rather than specific factual allegations." Dellenbach v. Hanks, 76 F.3d 820, 822 (7th Cir. 1996) (quoting Daniels v. United States, 54 F.3d 290, 293 (7th Cir. 1995)).

  The Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 ("AEDPA") heightened the threshold for petitioners seeking evidentiary hearings on factual matters not adequately developed in state court proceedings. 28 U.S.C. § 2254(e)(2) provides:
(2) If the applicant has failed to develop the factual basis of a claim in State court proceedings, the court shall not hold an evidentiary hearing on the claim unless the applicant shows that —
(A) the claim relies on — (i) a new rule of constitutional law, made retroactive to cases on collateral review by the Supreme Court, that was previously unavailable; or
(ii) a factual predicate that could not have been previously discovered through the exercise of due diligence; and
(B) the facts underlying the claim would be sufficient to establish by clear and convincing evidence that but for constitutional error, no reasonable factfinder would have found the applicant guilty of the underlying offense.
28 U.S.C. § 2254(e)(2). Since Petitioner filed his original petition for writ of habeas corpus after the effective date of AEDPA, its provisions would ordinarily govern our review. See Lambert v. McBride, 365 F.3d 557, 561 (7th Cir. 2004) (finding that the AEDPA provisions govern the review of a habeas petition filed after the effective date of AEDPA).

  However, the Seventh Circuit has also cautioned that Section 2254(e)(2) does not apply if "`fail[ure] to develop the factual basis of a claim in State court proceedings' can not be attributed to something the petitioner `did or omitted.'" Matheney v. Anderson, 253 F.3d 1025, 1039 (7th Cir. 2001); see Newell v. Hanks, 283 F.3d 827, 838 (7th Cir. 2002) (stating that "§ 2254(e)(2), which circumscribes a federal court's ability to hold an evidentiary hearing if the petitioner has "failed" to develop the factual record in state court, does not apply . . . [if Petitioner's] claims went undeveloped through no fault of his own."). Where the failure by the state court cannot be attributed to the petitioner, the court should "evaluate the request for an evidentiary hearing under pre-AEDPA standards." Matheney, 253 F.3d at 1039. Under the standards applicable prior to the AEDPA, "a federal evidentiary hearing is required if (1) a habeas petitioner alleges facts which, if proved, would entitle him to relief and (2) the state courts — for reasons beyond the control of the petitioner-never considered the claim in a full and fair hearing." Id.

  In this case, however, even if we interpreted the facts in a manner that did not attribute the failure to develop the factual basis of the defaulted claims to petitioner or his counsel, and therefore applied the pre-AEDPA standard, Petitioner could not satisfy that standard. Petitioner has not presented facts on the defaulted claims which, if true, would entitle him to relief, as we explain below. We have sufficient evidence before us to make a proper ruling on Petitioner's habeas petition, and therefore, an evidentiary hearing is not required.

  II. Petitioner's Motion For Discovery

  Petitioner has submitted a motion for discovery. Rule 6 of the Rules Governing Section 2254 Cases in the United States District Courts ("Rules Governing § 2254 Cases") provides that a federal court has discretion to grant leave for discovery in a habeas proceeding upon a showing of good cause. The Rule 6 standard is consistent with the Supreme Court's opinion in Harris v. Nelson, 394 U.S. 286, 300 (1969), which held that discovery is proper in those habeas proceedings "where specific allegations before the court show reason to believe that the petitioner may, if the facts are fully developed, be able to demonstrate that he is confined illegally and is therefore entitled to relief." See Bracy v. Gramley, 520 U.S. 899, 908-09 (1997) (citing Rules Governing § 2254 Cases, Rule 6 advisory committee's note). However, the Seventh Circuit has observed that "a Brady request does not entitle a criminal defendant to embark upon an unwarranted fishing expedition through government files, nor does it mandate that a trial judge conduct an in camera inspection of the government's files in every case." See U.S. v. Mitchell, 178 F.3d 904, 909 (7th Cir. 1999) (quoting U.S. v. Phillips, 854 F.2d 273, 278 (7th Cir. 1988)).

  Petitioner claims that the state withheld evidence favorable to his case and seeks discovery of the contents of the Waukegan police file on his case. In particular, Petitioner seeks four main pieces of information from that file. First, Petitioner hopes to discover information pertaining to a purported witness, Mickey Johnson, who Petitioner claims was near the murder suspect in the parking lot after the crime and might have important eyewitness details regarding that suspect. Second, Petitioner seeks recordings and other information from responding police units on the morning of the murder, claiming that such documents might contain undisclosed information regarding the suspect's vehicle. Third, Petitioner asks for discovery regarding a call to the police from Mary Greener ("Greener"), reporting a suspicious man parked in a car in the lot at the victim's apartment complex three days before the murder, the same day that the victim's car was reportedly vandalized. During the call, Greener allegedly provided police with the car's license plate number, which Petitioner suggests does not match the license plate number of his girlfriend's car. Finally, Petitioner asks for discovery of cigarette butts reportedly recovered from the area where the suspect was seen sitting prior to the murder. Petitioner claims that DNA testing on these cigarette butts will exonerate him.

  The Brady line of cases outlines the "prosecution's affirmative duty to disclose evidence favorable to a defendant," whether the defendant requested the information or not, and holds that "constitutional error results from its suppression by the government, `if there is a reasonable probability that, had the evidence been disclosed to the defense, the result of the proceeding would have been different.'" Kyles v. Whitley, 514 U.S. 419, 433-34 (1995) (quoting United States v. Bagley, 473 U.S. 667, 682 (1985)). This reasonable probability does not require "demonstration by a preponderance that disclosure of the suppressed evidence would have resulted ultimately in the defendant's acquittal," but instead asks "whether in its absence he received a fair trial, understood as a trial resulting in a verdict worthy of confidence." Kyles, 514 U.S. at 434.

  Respondent properly points out that Petitioner did not raise Brady discovery claims at trial or on direct appeal from his conviction. As such, Respondent suggests that these claims are procedurally defaulted. The Supreme Court of Illinois noted that Petitioner had not previously raised these claims, but the court did not hold that Petitioner had waived the Brady claims in its opinion upholding the trial court's decision to quash the requested discovery. Enis III, 743 N.E.2d at 30-31. Where the state court does not rely on its procedural rule to bar a petitioner's claim, the procedural rule is not an "independent" state ground as to the disposition of that claim and therefore does not bar review of that claim in a habeas proceeding. Prihoda v. McCaughtry, 910 F.2d 1379, 1382-83 (7th Cir. 1990).

  Petitioner has failed to show good cause for this court to grant leave for discovery. In his first two discovery requests, those for police communications and information regarding Mickey Johnson, Petitioner does not present specific facts that lead us to believe discovery will reveal a Brady violation or otherwise exculpate Petitioner. We have no specific reason to suspect that the Waukegan police report contains either the police communications or witness information that Petitioner seeks, nor do we have reason to believe that if such information were present, it would favor Petitioner. Given the evidence already presented against Petitioner, we do not believe that the exclusion of these documents undermines confidence in the fairness of Petitioner's trial.

  As to Petitioner's discovery request relating to the police report by Greener, the Supreme Court of Illinois found that Petitioner's attempted discovery on this point "was little more than a fishing expedition" and that the trial court acted within its discretion when it quashed Petitioner's subpoena for that information. Enis III, 743 N.E.2d at 31. Nothing links the man in the car at the victim's apartment complex three days before the murder to the suspect seen at the murder scene or to the car that the suspect may have used to flee the murder scene. Given the weight of the evidence against Petitioner, we do not believe that fully developing the facts regarding the man in the car at the victim's apartment complex three days before the murder would demonstrate that petitioner is confined illegally. Bracy, 520 U.S. at 908-09. We therefore agree with the conclusion of the Supreme Court of Illinois as to discovery denial. Further, in light of the presumption of correctness that is afforded to state court findings of fact and the extensive discovery that has already occurred in this case, we find that discovery does not need to be reopened. Therefore, Petitioner's motion for discovery is denied.

  Finally, Petitioner has made reference in his Petition that a second post-conviction proceeding is pending in Illinois state court regarding DNA evidence. Petitioner has asked this court to order discovery relating to such DNA evidence. We do not have any information tending to establish any inordinate delay in the state proceedings. Thus, Petitioner has not shown that he has exhausted state remedies with regard to the DNA evidence sought. Therefore, Petitioner's request for an order of discovery relating to DNA evidence is denied.

  III. Habeas Corpus Petition

  Petitioner argues that a writ of habeas corpus should be granted because: (A) his constitutional rights were violated when the trial court denied his motions to suppress identification testimony from witnesses, (B) the trial court made incorrect evidentiary and other rulings, including rulings relating to discovery, (C) his trial and appellate counsel provided ineffective assistance of counsel, (D) his constitutional rights were violated when trial counsel did not call him to testify at trial, (E) he was not proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, (F) the prosecution engaged in prosecutorial misconduct, (G) his constitutional rights were violated when the trial court denied his discovery requests, and (H) his constitutional rights were violated by the cumulative effect of the above claims. Respondent contends that certain claims of the Petitioner are procedurally defaulted and that Petitioner's habeas Petition is without merit and should be denied.

  A. Motions to Suppress Identification

  Petitioner argues that his constitutional rights were violated when the trial court denied his motions to suppress identification testimony from witnesses Clara Burk ("Burk") and Richard Hanson ("Hanson"). In determining the admissibility of identification testimony, factors that a court should consider include the "opportunity of the witness to view the criminal at the time of the crime, the witness' degree of attention, the accuracy of his prior description of the criminal, the level of certainty demonstrated at the confrontation, and the time between the crime and the confrontation." Manson v. Brathwaite, 432 U.S. 98, 114-15 (1997). After considering those identification factors, a court should then weigh those factors against "the corrupting effect of the suggestive identification itself." Id.

  While showing eyewitnesses a photograph of a suspect alone is "`the most suggestive and therefore the most objectionable method of pre-trial identification,'" it does not necessarily give rise to a constitutional claim, even if less suggestive methods were available. See Israel v. Odom, 521 F.2d 1370, 1373-1375 (7th Cir. 1975) (holding that showing a victim a single suspect sketch, even where police could have assembled multiple sketches, did not provide grounds for habeas) (quoting Kimbrough v. Cox, 444 F.2d 9, 10 (4th Cir. 1971)). The trial court in Petitioner's case noted the suggestive effect of this method of identification and placed the burden on the prosecution of overcoming that effect under the factors set out in Manson. See Enis II, 645 N.E.2d at 870 (describing proceedings in the trial court). In its opinion addressing Petitioner's direct appeal from his re-trial, the Supreme Court of Illinois reviewed the trial court's application of the factors set forth in Manson. Id.

  First the Supreme Court of Illinois noted that Burk and Hanson saw the suspect in the daylight and with sufficient opportunity to make an identification. Id. In fact, Burk claims that she saw the suspect on two occasions, once on the day of the murder and once several days before. Id. at 861. Next, the Supreme Court of Illinois noted that Burk and Hanson both gave relatively accurate descriptions of the suspect to the police and subsequently expressed confidence in their identification of Petitioner as to that suspect. Id. at 870. Finally, the Supreme Court of Illinois noted that it was only one day after the murder that both Burk and Hanson first identified Petitioner as the suspect. Id. After considering these factors, the Supreme Court of Illinois determined that the identifications made by Clara Burk and Richard Hanson "were supported by independent recollection and were thus reliable and admissible at trial." Id. at 868-72.

  We find that the decision of the Supreme Court of Illinois was reasonable and was not contrary to clearly established federal law. 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d)(1); see also Henderson v. Briley, 354 F.3d 907, 908 (7th Cir. 2004) (explaining that a federal court on collateral review under § 2254(d)(2) need only determine "whether the state court's decision was so far out-of-bounds as to be unreasonable"). Therefore, Petitioner has failed to show that the trial court erred in denying his motions to suppress identification testimony from witnesses.

  B. Evidentiary Rulings

  Petitioner argues that his constitutional rights were violated because of certain evidentiary rulings by the trial court. Petitioner contends that the trial court made evidentiary rulings during his trial that precluded him from introducing favorable evidence, while it allowed the State to introduce evidence that was prejudicial to his case. Specifically, Petitioner argues that the testimony of Kathleen Jackson ("Jackson") and an expert witness, Dr. Solomon Fulero ("Fulero") would have been supportive of his defense. Additionally, Petitioner maintains that evidence relating to the sexual assault of Entrata that was introduced at trial was improper.

  The Seventh Circuit has stated that "the Due Process Clause does not permit federal courts to `engage in a finely tuned review of the wisdom of state evidentiary rules.'" See Morgan v. Krenke, 232 F.3d 562, 567 (7th Cir. 2000) (quoting Montana v. Egelhoff, 518 U.S. 37, 43 (1996)). A federal court must only consider whether any unfair prejudice that may have derived from the evidentiary rulings would convince the court "that but for the errors, the outcome of the trial probably would have been different." See Anderson v. Sternes, 243 F.3d 1049, 1055 (7th Cir. 2001) (quoting Alvarez v. Boyd, 225 F.3d 820, 825 (7th Cir. 2000)).

  1. Jackson's Testimony

  In its opinion on Petitioner's first direct appeal, the Supreme Court of Illinois addressed the evidentiary rulings excluding the testimony of Jackson and Fulero and did not find that any of the rulings denied Petitioner a fair trial. Enis I, 564 N.E.2d at 1160-61, 1163-65. Petitioner claims that Jackson would have testified to seeing an African-American male dressed in dark clothes and wearing sunglasses similar to that of the suspect in an elevator at an apartment complex near the crime scene about 15 to 20 minutes prior to the murder. Id. at 1161. However, the Supreme Court of Illinois in Enis I pointed out numerous reasons for discounting the probative value of Jackson's testimony including: (a) that her description of the man in the elevator varied; (b) that she described him as having a different hair length and build than that of the suspect; (c) that she saw this individual in a different time frame than the other witnesses and in a different apartment complex; (d) that she did not see the white gloves or metal lunch box that the other witnesses saw with the suspect; and (e) that when she later identified a photograph of the man she saw in the elevator, she selected a picture of Calvin Adams ("Adams"), a resident in the same complex where she saw the man in the elevator. Id. at 1160. Further, the Supreme Court of Illinois noted that the man Jackson saw on the elevator got off the elevator on the third floor, which was the same floor that Adams lived on. Id. The Supreme Court of Illinois concluded that it was "likely" that man in the elevator that Jackson saw was Adams, who was merely returning to his apartment in that building. Id. at 1161. In short, neither the trial court nor the Supreme Court of Illinois felt that excluding Jackson's testimony cast doubt on the outcome of the proceedings. We agree.

  2. Fulero's Testimony

  Petitioner claims that the trial court erred in not allowing Fulero to testify. First, Fulero would have testified that witnesses in high stress situations have less accurate recollections than calm witnesses, but the witnesses in this case do not appear to have been in high stress situations at the time they viewed the suspect. Id. Next, Fulero would have testified that seeing a weapon rendered eyewitness identification less accurate, but again, only one of these witnesses ever mentioned a weapon, and that witness did not see the weapon until after watching the suspect for a few moments. Id. Third, Fulero planned to testify that juries give too much weight to witness estimates of time, and as the court noted, such estimates were not relevant to the witness testimony in this case. Id. at 1165. Only on Fulero's fourth topic, in which he proposed to show that witness confidence did not correlate with accuracy of identification, did the Supreme Court of Illinois find any relevance to the case. Id. However, the Supreme Court of Illinois found that this did not warrant a new trial, and we agree with that conclusion. Fulero's proposed testimony would not have changed the outcome of the trial and "would not have aided the trier of fact in reaching its conclusion." Id. at 1164.

  Petitioner has added a fifth topic to those raised in his first direct appeal; he now claims that Fulero would have testified to the difficulty of cross-racial identifications by witnesses. In this case, four of the state's five witnesses are white, while Petitioner is African-American. Enis III, 743 N.E.2d at 19. However, it does not appear that the trial court actually ruled to exclude this fifth topic of the proposed testimony by Fulero because Petitioner did not raise it until his post-conviction appeal as part of an ineffective assistance of counsel claim. Petitioner having raised a similar ineffective assistance of counsel claim in this court, we will address this fifth topic of proposed testimony by Fulero in our discussion below regarding ineffective assistance of counsel.

  3. "Other Crimes" And Other Allegedly Prejudicial Evidence

  Petitioner also argues that the trial court's evidentiary rulings allowed the state to introduce prejudicial evidence regarding Petitioner's alleged sexual assault against the victim and evidence regarding security measures taken by the victim after that assault. In addition, he claims that the court allowed the state to improperly impeach testimony by its own witness, John Twardy ("Twardy").

  As to the "other crimes" evidence regarding the alleged sexual assault by Petitioner against the victim, we do not believe that the prejudicial effect of this testimony, as weighed against its probative value, denied Petitioner a "fundamentally fair trial." United States ex rel. Lee v. Flannigan, 884 F.2d 945, 953 (7th Cir. 1989). The Supreme Court of Illinois held that this evidence was "highly relevant and probative" in establishing a possible motive for this crime. Enis II, 645 N.E.2d at 865. We agree with the Supreme Court of Illinois that this evidence was highly probative, particularly in light of the timing of the murder just before the sexual assault trial was scheduled to begin. In addition, we agree that Petitioner's case was not prejudiced by the trial court's refusal to admit evidence regarding a six-day delay between the alleged rape and the victim's report to the police. Id. at 872. This delay, as the Supreme Court of Illinois noted, does not controvert the evidence against Petitioner in this case. Id. Thus, we agree with the Supreme Court of Illinois that the evidentiary rulings relating to these "other crimes" were proper and that they did not infringe upon Petitioner's constitutional rights.

  On the remaining two issues, relating to security measures taken by the victim after the assault and impeachment of Twardy's testimony, we do not find that their impact changed the outcome of the trial. At Petitioner's second trial, the State presented testimony and photographic evidence showing that Entrata installed "make-shift security devices" at her apartment after the alleged sexual assault. Enis III, 743 N.E.2d at 22. The Supreme Court of Illinois found that this evidence "was not a material factor in defendant's conviction." Id. We, too, doubt that it had any appreciable impact on the jury's ruling, in light of the other evidence against Petitioner, and thus agree with the conclusion of the Supreme Court of Illinois.

  As for the alleged improper impeachment of Twardy, we again find that the impeachment did not alter the outcome of the trial, in light of the other evidence before the jury. Twardy was called to testify at Petitioner's trial regarding his observations of the suspect and, more importantly, of a red car pulling out of the parking lot at the victim's apartment complex just after the murder. Enis II, 645 N.E.2d at 863. During his testimony, Twardy disputed some of the information of his statements contained in the police report. Id. In particular, he testified that he "never told the officers that he saw the car pull away at a high rate of speed, and he never identified the car `without hesitation.'" Id. Further, he testified that Petitioner's girlfriend's car was "`shinier' than the one he had seen and that there was some damage to the right front fender that he had not noticed on the car he had seen pulling away." Id. Finally, he testified that he had never seen the suspect enter the vehicle and had never told officers that the car had four doors. Id. By impeaching Twardy with the statements in the police report, Petitioner claims that the state improperly bolstered its case. However, as the Supreme Court of Illinois noted, this impeachment evidence did not deprive Petitioner of a "fundamentally fair trial," the jury was properly instructed on how it could use the impeachment evidence, and the impeachment did not affect the outcome of the trial, in light of the other evidence against Petitioner. Id. at 402-03, 405.

  Based upon the overwhelming evidence against the Petitioner at trial, we find it unlikely that any of the evidentiary rulings by the trial court would have affected the jury's verdict or deprived the Petitioner of his rights of due process. See Morgan, 232 F.3d at 566 (stating a "defendant's right to present a defense does not mean he has a right to irrelevant evidence or even relevant evidence") (citing Taylor v. Illinois, 484 U.S. 400 (1988)). Therefore, we find that the decisions of the Supreme Court of Illinois relating to ...


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