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James v. Chambers

December 4, 2008

KEITH JAMES, PETITIONER,
v.
JOHN CHAMBERS, RESPONDENT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge Ronald A. Guzmán

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Before the Court is Keith James' petition for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254 that seeks to vacate his convictions for attempt first degree murder, aggravated battery with a firearm and aggravated discharge of a firearm. For the reasons provided in this Memorandum Opinion and Order, the Court denies the petition.

Facts

In 1995, James was convicted of four counts of attempt first degree murder, aggravated battery with a firearm and three counts of aggravated discharge of a firearm. (Pet. ¶¶ 1-4; Answer 1; see Gov't Ex. D, People v. James, No. 1-95-3353, slip op. at 1 (May 1, 1991).)

James appealed his conviction on two grounds. He argued that he was denied effective assistance of counsel because his trial attorney: (1) failed to renew the motion to suppress a lineup identification in light of testimony at trial, (2) did not impeach the State's witnesses with contradictions between their testimony at trial and at a pretrial suppression hearing, (3) failed to object to the admission of petitioner's Texas Longhorns jacket into evidence and to the State's argument regarding that jacket, (4) did not cross-examine the State's witness Shawn Powell regarding the circumstances of his identification of James as the shooter and (5) could not afford the costs of a second trial after the first trial resulted in a hung jury. (Gov't Ex. A, Def.'s Br. 7-18.) James also argued that the trial court abused its discretion by admitting testimony concerning James' participation in an uncharged shooting prior to the charged offense and allowing the scope of that testimony to exceed the purpose for which it was offered. (Id. 18-20.)

On May 1, 1998, the appellate court affirmed petitioner's convictions in an unpublished order. (Gov't Ex. D, People v. James, No. 1-95-3353, slip op. at 1 (May 1, 1991).) At the government's request, the appellate court remanded the case for a new sentencing hearing so that James could be sentenced to mandatory consecutive sentences in accordance with Illinois law. (Id. at 13.)

On July 7, 1998, James filed a petition for leave to appeal to the Illinois Supreme Court that raised the same issues that he raised in the appellate court. (Gov't Ex. E, Pet. Leave Appeal 1.) The Illinois Supreme Court denied leave to appeal. (Gov't Ex. F, People v. James, No. 85780, slip op. at 1 (Oct. 6, 1998.)

On remand, the trial court re-sentenced James to a thirty-year term of imprisonment for aggravated battery with a firearm, to be served consecutively to concurrent ten-year terms for three counts of attempt first degree murder. (Gov't Ex. I, People v. James, No. 1-01-3044, slip op. at 1 (Sept. 27, 2002).)

James filed an appeal after he was re-sentenced, claiming that the trial judge abused his discretion and violated his right to due process because the cumulative sentence of forty years was greater than the thirty years originally imposed. (Gov't Ex. G, Br. & Argument Appellant 8.) In an unpublished order issued on September 27, 2002, the Illinois Appellate Court, First District, affirmed and held that because the initial sentencing was void, there was no valid sentence to increase. (Gov't. Ex. I at 1-2, People v. James, No. 1-01-3044, slip op. at 1 (Sept. 27, 2002).)

James subsequently filed a petition for leave to appeal to the Illinois Supreme Court, raising the same issues he raised on appeal. (Gov't Ex. J, Pet. Leave Appeal.) On February 5, 2003, the Illinois Supreme Court denied the petition. (Gov't Ex. K, People v. James, 787 N.E.2d 177 (Ill. 2003).)

After his sentencing appeal was denied, James filed a petition for relief pursuant to the Illinois Post-Conviction Hearing Act, 725 Ill. Comp. Stat. 5/122-1 et seq., alleging that:

(1) his rights to due process and equal protection were violated when the trial judge allowed evidence of other crimes;

(2) his rights to due process and equal protection were violated when the prosecutor knowingly used false evidence about a bullet from a previous shooting;

(3) he was denied the effective assistance of counsel where counsel on direct appeal did not allege that trial counsel had a conflict of interest;

(4) he was denied the effective assistance of counsel where appellate counsel did not allege that trial counsel was ineffective for refusing to impeach State witness Officer Pallock;

(5) he was denied effective assistance of counsel where appellate counsel did not allege that trial counsel was ineffective for not asserting that State witness Detective Baker committed perjury;

(6) he was denied the effective assistance of counsel where appellate counsel did not allege that trial counsel was ineffective for stipulating to false evidence;

(7) he was denied the effective assistance of counsel where appellate counsel did not allege that trial counsel was ineffective for refusing to poll the jury; and

(8) his rights to due process and equal protection were violated when the trial court did not allow the jury to speak on behalf of its verdict. (Gov't Ex. L, Pet. Post-Conviction Relief.) James' appointed counsel then filed a supplemental ...


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