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United States ex rel Morfin v. Hardy

March 18, 2010

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA EX REL. NICHOLAS MORFIN, PETITIONER,
v.
MARCUS HARDY, WARDEN, STATEVILLE CORRECTIONAL CENTER RESPONDENT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Samuel Der-Yeghiayan United States District Court Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION

SAMUEL DER-YEGHIAYAN, District Judge

This matter is before the court on Respondent's motion to dismiss Petitioner Nicholas Morfin's (Morfin) petition for writ of habeas corpus (Petition). For the reasons stated below, we grant the motion to dismiss.

BACKGROUND

On May 22, 1998, following a jury trial, Morfin was convicted of first degree murder and sentenced to natural life imprisonment. On December 29, 2000, the Illinois Appellate Court affirmed Morfin's conviction and sentence. Morfin filed a petition for leave to appeal to the Illinois Supreme Court, which the Illinois Supreme Court denied on April 3, 2002.

On September 26, 2005, Morfin filed a post-conviction motion in the Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois, to vacate his sentence as void and unconstitutional. In his motion, Morfin argued that the statute under which Morfin was sentenced was unconstitutional as applied to Morfin. The trial court denied Morfin's motion to vacate on March 22, 2006, and on December 21, 2007, the Illinois Appellate Court affirmed the judgment of the trial court. Morfin filed a petition for leave to appeal with the Illinois Supreme Court, which the Illinois Supreme Court denied on November 26, 2008. In January 2009, Morfin filed a petition for writ of certiorari in the Supreme Court of the United States, which the Supreme Court of the United States denied on March 23, 2009. On August 31, 2009, Morfin filed the instant Petition. Morfin alleges in his Petition: (1) that the police lacked probable cause to arrest and detain him, (2) that he was denied proper discovery in violation of Brady v. Maryland, 373 U.S. 83 (1963), (3) that the trial court erred in allowing facts about his gang membership to be introduced to the jury, (4) that the prosecution's closing arguments were improper, (5) that the trial court gave an improper instruction to the jury on accountability, (6) that the statute under which he was sentenced, 730 ILCS 5/5-8-1(a)(1)(c)(ii), is unconstitutional as applied to him, (7) that he received ineffective assistance of trial counsel, and (8) that he received ineffective assistance of appellate counsel, and (9) that his due process rights were violated throughout his state court proceedings because the state courts made rulings and decisions that violated clearly established federal law.

LEGAL STANDARD

An individual in custody pursuant to state court judgment may seek a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254, which provides the following:

An application for a writ of habeas corpus on behalf of a person in custody pursuant to the judgment of a State court shall not be granted with respect to any claim that was adjudicated on the merits in State court proceedings unless the adjudication of the claim--(1) resulted in a decision that was contrary to, or involved an unreasonable application of, clearly established Federal law, as determined by the Supreme Court of the United States; or (2) resulted in a decision that 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). The decision made by a state court is deemed to be contrary to clearly established federal law "'if the state court applies a rule different from the governing law set forth in [Supreme Court] cases, or if it decides a case differently than [the Supreme Court has] done on a set of materially indistinguishable facts.'" Emerson v. Shaw, 575 F.3d 680, 684 (7th Cir. 2009)(quoting Bell v. Cone, 535 U.S. 685, 694 (2002)). The decision by a state court is deemed to involve an unreasonable application of clearly established federal law "'if the state court correctly identifies the governing legal principle from [Supreme Court] decisions but unreasonably applies it to the facts of the particular case.'" Emerson, 575 F.3d at 684 (quoting Bell, 535 U.S. at 694).

DISCUSSION

I. Inclusion of the Attorney General as a Respondent to Petition

At the outset, we note that Morfin has included the Attorney General of the State of Illinois as an additional respondent to the Petition. Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2242, the proper respondent to the Petition is "the person who has custody over [the petitioner]." 28 U.S.C. § 2242; see also 28 U.S.C. § 2243 (stating that "[t]he writ, or order to show cause shall be directed to the person having custody of the person detained"). In Wales v. Whitney, 114 U.S. 564(1885), the Supreme Court articulated that the relevant statutory provisions "contemplate a proceeding against some person who has the immediate custody of the party detained, with the power to produce the body of such party before the court or judge, that he may be liberated if no sufficient reason is shown to the contrary." Id. at 574 (emphasis added). Thus, the Attorney General is not a proper party to the Petition, and we therefore dismiss her from the instant Petition. See Rumsfeld v. ...


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