The opinion of the court was delivered by: Honorable David H. Coar
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
Before this Court is Petitioner Gene Morrison's ("Petitioner" or "Morrison") motion to vacate his sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. For the reasons stated below, Petitioner's motion is DENIED.
Petitioner was tried by a jury and found guilty of first-degree murder and aggravated battery with a firearm. The court sentenced him to an aggregate term of 38 years' imprisonment. On appeal, the Illinois Appellate Court affirmed petitioner's convictions and sentences. Petitioner then filed a petition for post-conviction relief, raising the following arguments: (1) Petitioner's consecutive sentences were void because section 5-8-4 of the Unified Code of Corrections (730 ILCS 5/5-8-4) violated the proportionate penalties clause, as it effectively penalized lesser offenses more seriously than first-degree murder, and (2) Illinios's felony sentencing laws were established under an unconstitutional delegation of legislative authority that provided no standard for the trial judge to exercise discretion in setting the sentence. The trial court dismissed the petition as patently frivolous and without merit.
Petitioner then filed an appeal to the Appellate Court of Illinois. At this point, Petitioner's counsel filed a motion to withdraw under Pennsylvania v. Finley. Petitioner filed a response to his counsel's motion, raising the new argument that the trial court erred in finding that the two offenses of which he was convicted constituted a single course of conduct, which required the imposition of consecutive sentences. The Appellate Court granted counsel's motion to withdraw, and dismissed Petitioner's appeal. Petitioner filed a petition for leave to appeal (PLA) to the Supreme Court of Illinois, challenging the imposition of consecutive sentences on the ground that ILCS 5/5-8-4 was unconstitutional because it produced an absurd result in that offenses committed in a single course of conduct were punished more harshly than offenses committed in multiple courses of conduct. The Supreme Court of Illinois denied the PLA.
On April 25, 2005, Petitioner filed the instant habeas corpus petition, raising five issues:
(1) ILCS 5/5-8-4, which provides for consecutive sentences for two offenses that occurred during a single course of conduct, is unconstitutional because it produces an absurd result in that offenses committed in a single course of conduct are punished more harshly than offenses committed multiple courses of conduct;
(2) ILCS 5/5-8-4 is unconstitutional because it permits courts to impose an extended sentencing term without meeting the extended-term requirements;
(3) his consecutive sentences are improper because ILCS 5/5-8-4 imposes consecutive sentences for certain crimes committed with the same criminal objective, whereas petitioner had no criminal objective because he was acting in self-defense;
(4) the State failed to prove him guilty beyond a reasonable doubt; and
(5) Petitioner's trial and appellate counsel were ineffective for failing to raise the previous four issues.
28 U.S.C. § 2254 empowers federal district courts to hear petitions for a writ of habeas corpus on behalf of a person in state custody on the ground that the imprisonment is in violation of the Constitution, treaties, or laws of the United States. 28 U.S.C. § 2254(a) (1996); see Wainwright v. Sykes, 433 U.S. 72, 77 (1977). A federal court may only consider the merits of a writ of habeas corpus after the petitioner has ...