The opinion of the court was delivered by: Joe Billy McDade United States District Judge
Before the Court is Petitioner Charles Jenkins's Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus (Doc. 1). Respondent Jennifer Stout filed an Answer to Petitioner's Petition (Doc. 5). Petitioner thereafter filed a Reply to Respondent's Answer. For the following reasons, Petitioner's Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus is DENIED.
In August 1996, Petitioner was indicted for 18 counts of aggravated criminal sexual assault and one count of permitting the sexual abuse of a child. Prior to the initiation of voir dire, the State announced it would only proceed on seven counts of aggravated criminal sexual assault. After jury selection was completed, the State began presenting evidence, including testimony from the victims. The next day Petitioner's trial counsel notified the trial court that the parties had reached a plea agreement and Petitioner signed a guilty plea acknowledging the agreement. The plea agreement included three 46 year sentences to be served concurrently.
The trial court conducted a plea colloquy and inquired if Petitioner was aware he was pleading guilty, if he had discussed the agreement with counsel, and if he had an opportunity to read the agreement. Petitioner responded affirmatively and also stated he was aware the agreement was for concurrent 46 year sentences based on his eligibility for maximum 60 year sentences for each count. Petitioner also stated that he understood he would not be able to request a lesser sentence under the plea agreement nor did he have any questions about the agreement itself. Finally, Petitioner stated he intended to waive the pre-sentence investigation report and proceed to sentencing. After determining Petitioner understood the entire plea agreement and was entering into it voluntarily, the trial court "conditionally concur[red] in the plea agreement," entered a finding of guilt, and a judgment of conviction for the three counts. (Doc. 5-13 at 9) (emphasis added). The trial court decided to wait for Petitioner's blood test results before unconditionally concurring in the agreement.
The trial court viewed Petitioner's blood-test results and held Petitioner's sentencing hearing on January 7, 1998. Prior to unconditionally concurring in the plea agreement, the trial court allowed the prosecutor and defense counsel to present evidence of aggravation and mitigation. While the prosecutor did not present any evidence in aggravation, defense counsel presented two letters in mitigation and Petitioner gave a statement of allocution. The trial judge then asked the prosecutor and defense counsel for their sentence recommendations. Both recommended the sentence in the plea agreement. The trial court thereafter unconditionally concurred in the plea agreement and sentenced Petitioner to 46 years imprisonment on each count, to run concurrently, less 541 days credit.
Post sentencing, Petitioner filed a motion to withdraw his guilty plea and last amended his motion in September 1998. The basis for the motion were three claims: (1) Petitioner's plea was not voluntarily given; (2) he was not adequately represented by counsel; and (3) he was receiving psychotropic medication at the time he entered his guilty plea. The trial court held evidentiary hearings on the motion in October and November 1998, but ultimately denied the motion. Petitioner only appealed the third claim to the state appellate court which affirmed the trial court's decision in July 2000. Petitioner thereafter filed a Petition for Leave to Appeal ("PLA") with the Illinois Supreme Court, but it was denied.
Petitioner then filed a pro se post-conviction petition in the McLean County Circuit Court under 725 ILCS § 5/122-1, et seq., but the court summarily dismissed the petition in April 2001 for being untimely filed and the state appellate court affirmed on appeal. Petitioner again filed a PLA with the Illinois Supreme Court claiming the post-conviction petition was filed in a timely manner and the trial court exceeded its authority by dismissing the petition on timeliness grounds. The Illinois Supreme Court again denied the PLA but issued a Supervisory Order directing the state appellate court to vacate its judgment based on its decision in People v. Boclair, 789 N.E.2d 734 (Ill. 2002). In January 2003, the appellate court reversed the dismissal.
In July 2004, Petitioner's then appointed counsel filed a new post-conviction petition claiming: (1) his trial counsel coerced him into entering the plea agreement and never told him he was agreeing to an extended term sentence; (2) his trial counsel was ineffective for recommending a 46 year sentence; and (3) his appellate counsel was ineffective for not appealing the trial court's denial of his amended motion to withdraw his plea of guilty. In March 2005, the trial court granted the State's motion to dismiss for Petitioner's failure to raise the claims on direct appeal. Petitioner appealed only the first claim to the state appellate court, which affirmed in July 2006.
Petitioner then filed an additional PLA with the Illinois Supreme Court claiming: (1) Petitioner did not voluntarily, knowingly, understandingly, or intelligently enter into the guilty plea; (2) his trial counsel was ineffective because he failed to move for substitution of the trial judge when requested; (3) his trial counsel was ineffective by not cooperating with Petitioner in developing a defense, and his appellate counsel was ineffective for failing to raise trial counsel's ineffectiveness; (4) his trial counsel was ineffective for advising Petitioner to plead guilty; and (5) he should have been submitted to a psychological or fitness examination because he was under the influence of psychotropic medication when he entered into the guilty plea and his trial counsel was ineffective for failing to require an examination.
The Illinois Supreme Court denied the PLA in November 2006, and in July 2007, Petitioner filed the instant habeas petition in the Springfield Division of the United States District Court for the Central District of Illinois. Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241(d), this case was transferred to this Court for all further proceedings.
In his Motion for Writ of Habeas Corpus, Petitioner raises the following grounds for relief:
(1) Petitioner received ineffective assistance of counsel because trial counsel:
(a) failed to move for substitution of the judge after being requested to do so; (b) failed to cooperate with Petitioner in developing and presenting a defense; (c) advised Petitioner to enter into a guilty plea during the trial claiming he would have a better chance of success on appeal; (d) ...