Searching over 5,500,000 cases.

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

United States ex rel Townsel v. Hathaway

January 20, 2010


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Honorable David H. Coar


Anthony Townsel, an Illinois prisoner, has filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus. See 28 U.S.C. § 2254. The state has answered, and Townsel has replied. For the following reasons, Townsel's petition is now DENIED.


Anthony Townsel was arrested and charged with first-degree murder and attempted armed robbery in connection with the shooting death of Hisham Durrah, a grocery store clerk, on December 30, 1989. After his motion to suppress his statements to the police was denied, Townsel pled guilty to first-degree murder in the Circuit Court of Cook County on May 21, 1991 and was sentenced to forty years in prison. On direct appeal, Townsel's appointed counsel withdrew after filing an Anders brief, and the appeal was dismissed. People v. Townsel, No. 1-91-2136 (Ill. App. Ct. Feb 5, 1993). Townsel, pro se, then filed several post-conviction petitions in the circuit court. He argued that his guilty plea was neither knowing nor voluntary because the court had not properly admonished him-specifically, the court erroneously told Townsel that by pleading guilty he would not waive his right to appeal the denial of his suppression motion. The circuit court dismissed his petitions, but the appellate court, finding that Townsel had not been properly admonished as to the consequences of his guilty plea, reversed and remanded the case in order to allow him to withdraw his guilty plea, if he so desired. People v. Townsel, No. 1-96-2595 (Ill. App. Ct. May 8, 1998).

Townsel withdrew his guilty plea, and a Cook County jury convicted him of first-degree murder and attempted robbery on September 22, 2000; on November 8, 2000, the circuit court sentenced him to forty years in prison. On direct appeal, Townsel argued that (1) the trial court erred by not excusing two jurors during voir dire; (2) the State impermissibly elicited prejudicial hearsay testimony from Townsel's brother and mentioned the testimony in closing argument; (3) the trial court erred in permitting a State's witness to state his belief that he thought petitioner was lying when he denied committing the crime; and (4) the trial court erred by refusing Townsel's request to represent himself with the assistance of standby counsel. The appellate court affirmed Townsel's conviction. People v. Townsel, No. 1-00-4057 (Ill. App. Ct. March 31, 2003). Townsel's petition for leave to appeal (PLA) with the Illinois Supreme Court reasserted the second and third issues raised on direct appeal and was denied on October 7, 2003. People v. Townsel, 803 N.E.2d 498 (Ill. 2003).

On October 31, 2002, while his direct appeal was pending, Townsel, again pro se, filed a "petition for post-judgment relief from judgments" in the circuit court. Townsel alleged various Brady and confrontation-clause violations, malicious prosecution, prosecutorial misconduct, and two claims that are now at the heart of his habeas petition. First, Townsel argued that his arrest was invalid under the Fourth Amendment, since the police executed an arrest warrant in the name of "Anthony Hardrick," which is not an alias that Townsel has ever been known by. Second, Townsel alleged that trial counsel was ineffective for failing to investigate the available "conclusive evidence" that he had no known aliases and therefore could not have been Anthony Hardrick. Townsel also noted that "the issue was not argued in Court nor was it presented to a higher tribunal." Pursuant to the Illinois Post-Conviction Hearing Act, 725 ILCS 5/122-1 et seq.,the circuit court construed Townsel's ambiguously captioned filing as a post-conviction petition and concluded that it was a successive post-conviction petition, since Townsel had already filed for post-conviction relief in connection with the court's failure to correctly admonish him of the consequences of his guilty plea. The court summarily dismissed the various claims raised in his petition on grounds of either resjudicata or waiver. People v. Townsel, No. 90 CR 1810 (Cook Cty. Cir. Ct. Dec 10, 2002).

On appeal from the circuit court's denial of his petition, Townsel's appointed counsel argued that the circuit court (1) erred by treating his petition for relief from judgment as a post-conviction petition and (2) erred by finding that the petition was successive and applying principles of res judicata to dismiss it without further consideration. The appellate court reversed the circuit court's summary dismissal of Townsel's petition and remanded it for consideration on the merits. People v. Townsel, No. 1-03-0334 (Ill. App. Ct. April 20, 2005). The State filed a PLA, however, and the Illinois Supreme Court vacated the appellate court's judgment in a supervisory order that instructed the court to reconsider the case in light of a recent precedent. People v. Townsel, No. 100582 (Ill. Sept. 9, 2005). On reconsideration, the appellate court affirmed the order dismissing Townsel's petition, holding that it was properly construed as a post-conviction petition. People v. Townsel, No. 1-03-0334 (Ill. App. Ct. Jan. 4, 2006). The appellate court also found that Townsel had waived his ineffective-assistance-of-counsel claim because he could have raised it on direct review but did not. Id. (citing People v. Blair, 215 Ill. 2d 427, 444 (Ill. 2005). Townsel filed a PLA, raising the sole claim that it was error to treat his filing as a post-conviction petition; his PLA was denied on March 29, 2006. People v. Townsel, 850 N.E.2d 812 (Ill. 2006).

Meanwhile, on August 19, 2003, Townsel, again pro se, had filed an unambiguous petition for post-conviction relief in the circuit court. He argued that (1) the judge who dismissed his previous petition should be recused; (2) the State withheld a critical witness; (3) the State wrongly argued that petitioner used an alias, and that a warrant was pending against petitioner via the alias; (4) trial counsel was ineffective for failing to investigate and secure available proof that Townsel had been arrested on an invalid warrant and that he was never known by any alias; (5) the State withheld exculpatory evidence; (6) the State knowingly permitted its witnesses to testify falsely about the circumstances of his arrest; (7) the State submitted false and manufactured evidence. The circuit court dismissed Townsel's petition as a successive post-conviction petition People v. Townsel, No. 90 CR 01810-01 (Cook Cty. Cir. Ct. Oct. 6, 2003). Townsel appealed, raising only one issue: whether the circuit court erred by considering his petition to be successive and summarily dismissing it. The appellate court agreed that the petition was successive and, noting that Townsel had "waived any contention supporting the merits of his petition," affirmed the circuit court's order of dismissal. People v. Townsel, No. 1-03-3423 (Ill. App. Ct. Sept. 23, 2005). Townsel, still pro se, raised four claims in his PLA: (1) trial counsel was ineffective for failing to investigate whether the State had manufactured evidence, suborned perjury, and arrested him on an invalid warrant; (2) the State withheld exculpatory evidence, (3) suborned perjury, and (4) presented false and manufactured evidence at trial. Townsel's PLA was denied on January 25, 2006. People v. Townsel, 844 N.E.2d 971 (Ill. 2006).

Townsel, pro se, then turned to federal court, filing the present petition for a writ of habeas corpus on January 4, 2007. He asserts three grounds for relief: (1) his trial counsel was ineffective for failing to investigate the possibility that he was arrested pursuant to an invalid warrant; (2) he was arrested, without probable cause, pursuant to an invalid warrant; (3) his appellate counsel was ineffective for failing to review fingerprint evidence.


"A district court shall entertain an application for a writ of habeas corpus on behalf of 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). Under the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 (AEDPA), the court may issue a writ of habeas corpus only if the state court's determination of the petitioner's claim "was contrary to, or involved an unreasonable application of, clearly established Federal law, as determined by the Supreme Court of the United States" or "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); Woods v. McBride, 430 F.3d 813, 816 (7th Cir. 2005).

"A federal district court may not grant a writ of habeas corpus unless the petitioner has exhausted his state court remedies." Chambers v. McCaughtry, 264 F.3d 732, 737 (7th Cir. 2001); see 28 U.S.C. § 2254(b)(1)(A). To exhaust those remedies, the petitioner must fully and fairly present each federal claim-i.e., its operative facts and controlling legal principles-to the state courts. Chambers, 264 F.3d at 737-38(citing O'Sullivan v. Boerckel, 526 U.S. 838, 844 (1999); Rodriguez v. Scillia, 193 F.3d 913, 916 (7th Cir. 1999)). The petitioner must assert each claim "through one complete round of state-court review, either on direct appeal of his conviction or in post-conviction proceedings." Malone v. Walls, 538 F.3d 744, 753 (7th Cir. 2008) (quotation and citation omitted).

When a state court resolves a question of federal law based on "a state law ground that is independent of the federal question and adequate to support the judgment," a federal habeas court generally may not review the state court's decision. Woods v. Schwartz, 2009 U.S. App. LEXIS 26802, at *8 (7th Cir. Dec. 9, 2009) (citing Coleman v. Thompson, 501 U.S. 722, 729 (2001)). "[W]hen a state refuses to adjudicate a petitioner's federal claims because they were not raised on accord with the state's procedural rules, that will normally qualify as an independent and adequate state ground for denying federal review." Woods, 2009 U.S. App. LEXIS 26802, at *8-9 (citing Cone v. Bell, 556 U.S. __, 129 S.Ct. 1769, 1780 (2009)). And "a finding of waiver by the state post-conviction court is enough to establish an adequate and independent state ground." Sturgeon v. Chandler, 552 F.3d 604, 611 (7th Cir. 2009).

A failure to comply with the exhaustion requirement or with the state's procedural rules will operate as a procedural default, which bars federal habeas corpus relief "unless the petitioner can demonstrate both cause for and prejudice stemming from the default, or he can establish that the denial of relief will result in ...

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.