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Binion v. McCann

March 10, 2010

TROY BINION, PETITIONER,
v.
TERRY MCCANN, WARDEN, STATEVILLE CORRECTIONAL CENTER, RESPONDENT.



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

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Before this Court is Petitioner Troy Binion's ("Petitioner") petition for writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. For the reasons set forth below, the petition for writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254 is DENIED.

BACKGROUND

After a 2001 jury trial in the Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois, Petitioner was convicted under an accountability theory of one count of first degree murder and one count of attempted murder.

At trial, the court admitted testimony related to a polygraph examination taken by Mario Coleman, a prosecution witness who had inculpated Petitioner during questioning by the police. Coleman initially raised the issue in an unsolicited remark during cross-examination by counsel for Petitioner. Coleman stated that, after signing a handwritten statement before the Assistant State's Attorney, he underwent a lie detector test, then testified before a grand jury. (Feb 15, 2001 Tr. 131:6-12).

Prior to this, Coleman had testified on direct examination that his inculpatory statements were not true, but rather what "the police wanted to hear" and what the detective told him to say. (Feb 15, 2001 Tr. 81:9-19; 83:24-86:2; 100:6-14.) He also testified that he made changes to the handwritten summary of his statements at the instruction of the Assistant State's Attorney. (Feb 15, 2001 Tr. 92:6-9; 97:9-24.)

On re-direct, the following question was posed: "It's your testimony that they made you sign a statement full of things that were not true. And then after they made you sign a statement of what they told you to say, that they took the time out to take you to a lie detector then?" To which Coleman responded, "yeah." (Feb 15, 2001 Tr. 136:11-137:5.)

The police detective who questioned Coleman was called to the stand the following day. He testified that Coleman had voluntarily agreed to undergo a polygraph examination the day before he spoke to the Assistant State's Attorney, signed the handwritten statement, and took the lie detector test. (Feb 16, 2001 Tr. 148:17-149:20.)

The trial judge admitted the testimony for the purpose of establishing the chronology of the police investigation. On both days, he issued instructions directing the jury to consider the evidence for that limited purpose only. (Feb 15, 2001 Tr. 137:17-138:14; Feb 16, 2001 Tr. 146:9-147:10.) In a sidebar, the judge expounded, "[i]t does not make sense that Mr. Coleman would be threatened by the police to make certain statements and then take a lie detector test. . . . Why would the police force someone to make a statement and then take him to the detector to find out if he was telling the truth or not[?]" (Feb 16, 2001 Tr. 8:18-9:20.) He explained that, because Coleman's claims of coercion were inconsistent with the chronology of the investigation, "the jury has a right to know . . . the course of events," to prevent them from "labor[ing] under a misconception." (Id.) The judge later warned the detective not to divulge the results of the polygraph test. (Feb 16, 2001 Tr. 154:23-155:9.)

After the jury returned its verdict, the trial court sentenced Petitioner to a term of 30 years' imprisonment. Petitioner appealed his conviction and sentence to the Illinois Appellate Court, raising three claims: (1) the trial court abused its discretion by admitting the polygraph testimony; (2) petitioner was not proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt; and (3) the application of Illinois' law of accountability to Petitioner's case was improper. The state appellate court affirmed Petitioner's conviction and sentence on June 20, 2005. People v. Binion, 832 N.R.2d 875, 886 (Ill. App. Ct. 2005).

With respect to the polygraph issue, the appellate court held that, under People v. Jefferson, 705 N.E.2d 56 (Ill. 1998), the testimony was admissible. It reasoned that "Coleman's trial testimony that his pretrial statement was coerced [and] his subsequent reference to the polygraph examination could have left the jury with the impression that the police first coerced a statement from Coleman and then forced him to undergo a polygraph examination. The possibility of misleading the jury can be a determinative factor in the decision to admit polygraph evidence . . . ." Binion, 705 N.E.2d at 885. The appellate court concluded that the trial court did not abuse its discretion, where it issued limiting instructions to the jury, explained how the evidence was and was not to be used, and where the polygraph evidence was not introduced in mere anticipation of a claim of coercion. See id.

On July 11, 2005, Petitioner filed a petition for leave to appeal ("PLA") in the Illinois Supreme Court. His petition contained a single claim: that the appellate court had misconstrued Jefferson, and the polygraph testimony was inadmissible. The state supreme court denied Petitioner's PLA on September 29, 2005.

This Court received Petitioner's petition for writ of habeas corpus ...


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