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U.S. EX REL. EDWARDS v. STERNES

December 13, 2005.

United States of America ex rel. WAYNE EDWARDS, Petitioner,
v.
JERRY L. STERNES, Respondent.



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

MEMORANDUM OPINION

This matter is before the court on Petitioner Wayne Edwards' ("Edwards") petition for writ of habeas corpus. For the reasons stated below, we deny Edwards' petition for writ of habeas corpus in its entirety.

BACKGROUND

  Following a jury trial in the Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois, ("Trial Court") Edwards was found guilty of participating in a criminal drug conspiracy to deliver less than 10 grams of heroin and guilty of conspiring to possess 15 grams or more, but less than 100 grams, of heroin with the intent to deliver. Edwards was acquitted of conspiracy to possess 400 to 900 grams of heroin with the intent to deliver. Edwards was subsequently sentenced to 30 years of imprisonment and is now serving his sentence. On October 11, 2000, Edwards filed a pro se post-conviction petition in Illinois state court containing several claims. Because Edwards failed to comply with provisions of the Illinois Post-Conviction Hearing Act, his post-conviction petition was denied. Edwards appealed his conviction and the denial of his post-conviction petition to the Illinois Appellate Court, First District ("Illinois Appellate Court"), which affirmed the judgment of the Trial Court. Subsequently, Edwards filed a pro se petition for leave to appeal to the Illinois Supreme Court, which was denied.

  Edwards filed the instant petition for a writ of habeas corpus, originally containing claims in ten counts. Later, Edwards waived Counts V-X, leaving Counts I-IV in his habeas petition. Soon after Edwards filed the instant petition, he filed a successive post-conviction petition in the Illinois courts, containing several claims similar to the instant habeas petition. Edwards' successive post-conviction petition was denied.

  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, a writ of habeas corpus will not be granted unless "the applicant has exhausted the remedies available in the courts of the State; . . . or there is an absence of available State corrective process; or . . . circumstances exist that render such process ineffective to protect the rights of the applicant." 28 U.S.C.A. § 2254 (b)(1). A habeas corpus petition shall also 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)(1-2). A decision by a state court is deemed to be "`contrary to' [the U.S. Supreme Court's] clearly established precedents if it `applies a rule that contradicts the governing law set forth in [the Court's] cases' or if it `confronts a set of facts that are materially indistinguishable from a decision of [the] Court and nevertheless arrives at a result different from our precedent.'" Early v. Packer, 537 U.S. 3, 8 (2002) (quoting Williams v. Taylor, 529 U.S. 362, 405-06 (2000)). A state court need not cite to Supreme Court cases in its decision, "so long as neither the reasoning nor the result of the" state court's decision contradicts such precedent. Id.

  DISCUSSION

  In his petition for a writ of habeas corpus, Edwards asserts the following claims: 1) the trial judge violated Edwards' sixth and fourteenth amendment rights when the trial judge threatened to give him the maximum sentence if he turned down the plea offer (Count 1), 2) his trial counsel was ineffective for failing to file a motion to quash the search warrant and suppress the evidence seized where the execution of the warrant violated the knock-and-announce rule (Count 2A), 3) his trial counsel was ineffective in failing to file a pre-trial motion to quash the search warrant and suppress evidence to present and preserve error for appellate review (Count 2B), 4) his trial counsel was ineffective because he stipulated to 41.6 grams of heroin even though the weight was not charged in the indictment (Count 3), and 5) his trial counsel was ineffective for failing to present exculpatory evidence to corroborate his defense and rebut the credibility of the State's witness on the issue of voice identification (Count 4). Respondent asserts that Edwards is procedurally defaulted from bringing these claims, arguing that Edwards failed to raise them on appeal before the appellate court. (Resp. 18).

  Before state prisoners can petition for a writ of habeas corpus in the federal courts, they "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." O'Sullivan v. Boerkel, 526 U.S. 838, 845 (1999). This means that the petitioner must properly assert each claim at each and every level in the state court system, either on direct appeal of his conviction or in post-conviction proceedings. Id. at 848-49; see also Resnover v. Pearson, 965 F.2d 1453, 1458 (7th Cir. 1992) (stating that "[p]rocedural default . . . occurs when a claim could have been but was not presented to the state court and cannot, at the time that the federal court reviews the habeas petition, be presented to the state court" and that "[i]ssues which were never raised in the state courts are the proper subject of procedural default in this collateral review under § 2254").

  A federal court can review procedurally defaulted claims, however, if a petitioner "shows cause for failure to raise them at the appropriate time and actual prejudice which resulted from such failure," or if the refusal to review would result in a "fundamental miscarriage of justice." Rodriguez v. Scillia, 193 F.3d 913, 917 (7th Cir. 1999). A petitioner can establish cause by "showing that some type of external impediment prevented the petitioner from presenting his federal claim to the state courts." Lewis v. Sternes, 390 F.3d 1019, 1026 (7th Cir. 2004). To establish prejudice, a petitioner must show that the violation of his federal rights "worked to his actual and substantial disadvantage, infecting his entire trial with error of constitutional dimensions." Id. (quoting United States v. Frady, 456 U.S. 152, 170 (1982). A miscarriage of justice exists "where `a constitutional violation has probably resulted in the conviction of one who is actually innocent'" and the petitioner can "show that it is more likely than not that no reasonable juror would have convicted him," but for the alleged constitutional violation. Rodriguez, 193 F.3d at 917(quoting Murray v. Carrier, 477 U.S. 478, 495-96 (1986)). I. Count 1

  In Count 1, Edwards claims that "the trial judge violated the [sixth] and [fourteenth] amendment [sic] of the U.S. Constitution when he carried out his threat to give defendant the maximum if he turned down the plea offer." (Compl. 5(a)). Edwards raised the claims contained in Count 1 in a post-conviction petition for relief, which was filed in the Trial Court. (Ex. B). However, because Edwards' state petition was not supported "by affidavits, records, or other evidence" and the petition did not explain why such support was unavailable, Edwards' petition was denied by both the Trial Court and by the Illinois Appellate Court. (Ex. A 52-53).)

  Under the Illinois Post-Conviction Hearing Act, 725 ILCS 5/122-1 et seq., a post-conviction "petition shall have attached thereto affidavits, records, or other evidence supporting its allegations or shall state why the same are not attached." 725 ILCS 5/122-2. In his petition for post-conviction relief, Edwards failed to comply with this procedural requirement and, thus, the Trial Court and the Illinois Appellate Court dismissed his claims regarding the trial judge's alleged actions. Because the Illinois state courts made it clear that 725 ILCS 5/122-2 was the sole basis for their dismissal of this claim, we find that Edwards' failure to comply with 725 ILCS 5/122-2 constitutes a procedural default. See U.S. ex rel. Hampton v. Leibach, 347 F.3d 219, 242 (7th Cir. 2003) (holding that failure to comply with 725 ILCS 5/122-2 will be considered a procedural default in situations where, like here, "the state court actually relied on that default as an independent basis for its decision").

  Edwards argues that "the state courts have not applied the procedural default doctrine even handed as applied to petitioner's failure to provide an affidavit, records, or other evidence, or explain its absence." (Reply 8). According to the Seventh Circuit, "only a rule that was established at the time of the act said to constitute the procedural default is an `independent and adequate state ground' that blocks federal collateral review." Timberlake v. Davis, 409 F.3d 819, 821 (7th Cir. 2005); see also Ford v. Georgia, 498 U.S. 411, 423-24 (1991) (stating that only the violation of a "firmly established and regularly followed state practice" can constitute a procedural default). While Edwards cites a handful of cases involving 725 ILCS 5/122-2 that excuse a petitioner's failure to comply with the statute, none of the cases cited involve the same factual situation as in the instant action. Furthermore, the failure to attach sufficient documentation to an Illinois post-conviction relief petition is clearly an appropriate grounds for dismissal of a petition under 725 ILCS 5/122-2. See, e.g., People v. Johnson, 816 N.E.2d 636, 642-42 (Ill.App.Ct. 2004) (stating that making "conclusory statements" in an Illinois post-conviction relief petition "is fatal to a postconviction petition and by itself justifies the petition's summary dismissal"); People v. Shanklin, 814 N.E.2d 139, 142, (Ill.App. Ct. 2004) (stating that "[t]o succeed in receiving postconviction relief, a defendant must state the ways in which his constitutional rights were violated and must provide affidavits, records, or ...


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