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Williams v. Acevedo

June 24, 2008

SHAWN WILLIAMS, PETITIONER,
v.
GERARDO ACEVEDO, RESPONDENT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Samuel Der-yeghiayan, District Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION

This matter is before the court on Respondent's motion to dismiss Petitioner Shawn Williams' ("Williams") petition for a writ of habeas corpus ("Petition"). For the reasons stated below, we grant Respondent's motion to dismiss.

BACKGROUND

On March 27, 2001, Williams pled guilty in the Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois, to first degree murder and aggravated battery. Williams was charged with stealing a taxi cab on December 25, 1999, and crashing into another vehicle and pedestrian, killing one woman and injuring two other people. The trial court sentenced Williams to concurrent terms of twenty-eight and five years of imprisonment. On March 26, 2002, nearly a year after Williams pled guilty, Williams filed a motion to withdraw his guilty plea. On April 9, 2002, the trial court denied the motion as untimely under Illinois Supreme Court Rule 604(d), which requires such motions to be filed within 30 days of the imposition of a sentence. Eighteen months later, on October 27, 2003, Williams filed a pro se petition for post-conviction relief ("Post-conviction Petition") in the Circuit Court of Cook County, arguing that his guilty plea was not voluntary and that he had been denied his constitutional rights to effective assistance of counsel and due process. On January 15, 2004, the trial court dismissed the Post-conviction Petition as frivolous. Williams appealed to the Illinois Appellate Court, First District, and on April 18, 2006, the Illinois Appellate Court affirmed the dismissal by the trial court. Williams then filed a petition for leave to appeal to the Illinois Supreme Court on June 8, 2006, which was denied on September 27, 2006.

On September 27, 2007, Williams filed the instant Petition for writ of habeas corpus, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. Williams claims (1) that the denial of his Post-conviction Petition by the state trial court without an evidentiary hearing violated his due process rights, (2) that he was denied his Sixth Amendment right to effective assistance of counsel due to the fact that his state court trial counsel allowed him to enter into an involuntary guilty plea, and (3) that he was denied his Sixth Amendment right to effective assistance of counsel due to the fact that his counsel failed to perfect Williams' appeal. Williams states that he should be entitled to an evidentiary hearing on each of his claims. Respondent has filed a motion to dismiss arguing that Williams' Petition is time-barred under 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d) and arguing that Williams' Petition does not state a constitutional due process violation.

LEGAL STANDARD

Under 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d) ("Section 2244(d)"), all federal habeas petitions must be filed within one year of the latest of:

(A) the date on which the judgment became final by the conclusion of direct review or the expiration of the time for seeking such review;

(B) the date on which the impediment to filing an application created by State action in violation of the Constitution or laws of the United States is removed, if the applicant was prevented from filing by such State action;

(C) the date on which the constitutional right asserted was initially recognized by the Supreme Court, if the right has been newly recognized by the Supreme Court and made retroactively applicable to cases on collateral review; or

(D) the date on which the factual predicate of the claim or claims presented could have been discovered through the exercise of due diligence.

28 U.S.C. § 2244(d)(1). The statute of limitations period is tolled, however, for "[t]he time during which a properly filed application for State post-conviction or otherwise collateral review with respect to the pertinent judgment or claim is pending. . . ." 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d)(2). Aside from the statutory tolling under Section 2244(d)(2), the Seventh Circuit has also found that the statute of limitations may be tolled under the doctrine of equitable tolling, which is proper when "extraordinary circumstances" outside a petitioner's control prevent timely filing. Arrieta v. Battaglia, 461 F.3d 861, 867 (7th Cir. 2006). The Seventh Circuit has stated, however, that "[m]istakes of law or ignorance of proper legal procedures are not extraordinary circumstances warranting invocation of the doctrine of equitable tolling." Id.

DISCUSSION

The parties dispute the specific date that the statute of limitations began to run with respect to the filing of the instant Petition and whether or not the limitations period should have been tolled for any of Williams' claims. Respondent argues that the statute of limitations with respect to all of Williams' claims began to run on April 26, 2001, the date that judgment became final in Williams' criminal case, and that the statute of limitations period expired on April 26, 2002, one year from the date of the final judgment. Respondent further argues that the statute of limitations period expired on all of Williams' claims prior to the collateral review by the state courts and that equitable tolling would not apply to any of Williams' claims. Williams contends that, with respect to his due process claim, the statute of limitations period began to run on September 26, 2006, the date that state collateral review ended, and that his claim was timely filed. Williams further argues that equitable tolling should apply to all of ...


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