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United States ex rel Baker v. Ramos

March 24, 2010

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA EX REL. MICHAEL BAKER, PETITIONER,
v.
ANTHONY RAMOS, ACTING WARDEN, STATEVILLE CORRECTIONAL CENTER, RESPONDENT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Elaine E. Bucklo United States District Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

In 1992, petitioner Michael Baker ("Baker") was charged with first degree murder, attempted first degree murder, and aggravated battery in the Circuit Court of Cook County. The charges arose out of an incident in which Baker was alleged to have stabbed his wife, Donna Strejc ("Strejc"), who was six months pregnant at the time. The stabbing seriously injured Strejc and caused her to give birth prematurely. The infant was born alive but passed away shortly afterward. On April 28, 1994, Baker was found guilty on the murder and attempted murder charges. He was sentenced to forty years in prison for the murder conviction, and another thirty years, to be served consecutively, for the attempted murder conviction.

Baker has filed a petition for habeas corpus relief pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. As explained more fully below, the petition is time-barred and is therefore dismissed.*fn1

Procedural History

In order to determine whether Baker's petition is untimely, it is necessary to recount the case's rather lengthy and convoluted history. Baker began by filing a direct appeal of his conviction on July 27, 1994. The Illinois Appellate Court affirmed the conviction on September 12, 1996. People v. Baker, 708 N.E.2d 849 (Ill. App. Ct. 1996). Baker subsequently filed a Petition for Leave to Appeal ("PLA") to the Illinois Supreme Court, which was denied on January 29, 1997. People v. Baker, 677 N.E.2d 967 (Ill. 1997).

While his direct appeal was pending before the appellate court, however, Baker filed a post-conviction petition in the circuit court. On February 22, 1996, the petition was denied. See Certified Report of Disposition, Petr.'s Ex. T (Doc. 6 at 71). On March 14, 1996, Baker appealed the denial of his petition, but the appellate court affirmed the circuit court on August 1, 1997. Baker did not file a PLA following the denial of his post-conviction petition. Instead, on April 23, 1997, while his post-conviction petition was still pending before the Illinois Appellate Court, Baker filed a habeas petition in this Court. Baker v. DeTella, No. 97-2931 (N.D. Ill. filed Apr. 23, 1997). I dismissed Baker's petition for failure to exhaust state court remedies, and the case was terminated. See Minute Order, 7/10/97 (Doc. 8).

Baker then filed several additional motions and petitions in Illinois state court. Specifically, on January 22, 1998, he moved the circuit court for leave to file a petition of mandamus. On January 28, 1998, the circuit court denied the motion. On November 9, 1998, Baker filed a successive post-conviction petition in the circuit court. State's Ex. A (Doc. 17-1) at 10. The court dismissed the petition on November 23, 1998. Id. at 11. Still later, on October 25, 2001, Baker filed a motion to subject certain of the evidence in his case to DNA testing. See State's Ex. B (Doc. 17-2) People v. Baker, No. 92 CR 29268, slip op. at 2 (Ill. App. Ct. Oct. 29, 2008) ("Oct. 29, 2008 Order"). The motion was denied on August 19, 2004. Id. Baker appealed and the appellate court affirmed the circuit court's decision on January 25, 2006. He then filed a PLA to the Illinois Supreme Court, which was denied on May 24, 2006. See People v. Baker, 852 N.E.2d 241 (Ill. 2006).

On September 12, 2006, Baker filed a motion in the circuit court for relief from judgment. See Oct. 29, 2008 Order at 2. On May 9, 2007, the trial court dismissed the petition, ruling that it was frivolous and imposing sanctions on Baker. Id. at 3. The trial court's ruling was affirmed by the state appellate court on October 29, 2008. See Oct. 29, 2008 Order. Once more, Baker filed a PLA. The Illinois Supreme Court denied the petition on January 28, 2009. See People v. Baker, 982 N.E.2d 1086 (Ill. 2009). Finally, Baker filed the instant action on June 12, 2009. Baker v. Shaw et al., No. 09-3574 (N.D. Ill. filed June 12, 2009).

Discussion

A. The Untimeliness of Baker's Petition

Baker's petition was filed afer the enactment of the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 ("AEDPA"), 28 U.S.C. § 2254. As a result, his petition is subject to AEDPA's statute of limitations. AEDPA provides that "[a] 1-year period of limitation shall apply to an application for a writ of habeas corpus by a person in custody pursuant to the judgment of a State court." Balsewicz v. Kingston, 425 F.3d 1029, 1031 (7th Cir. 2005) (quotation marks omitted). As the Seventh Circuit has explained:

This one-year period runs from the latest of the following: (1) the date the judgment becomes final or the expiration of time to seek review; (2) the date that the impediment to filing created by state action in violation of the Constitution is removed; (3) the date that the constitutional right asserted was recognized by the Supreme Court and made retroactively applicable to cases on collateral review; or (4) the date on which the factual predicate of the claim could have been discovered by due diligence.

Id. at 1031-32 (citing 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d)(1)). However, the statute also provides that "[t]his one-year time limit will be tolled . . . during such time that the petitioner has state post-conviction or other collateral review with respect to the pertinent judgment pending in state court." Id. (citing 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d)(2)).

Baker's petition is subject to the first of the above-mentioned starting-points.*fn2 Under that provision, the one-year limitations period commenced on "the date on which the judgment became final by the conclusion of direct review or the expiration of the time for seeking such review." 28 U.S.C. ยง 2244(d)(1)(A). As noted above, the Illinois Supreme Court denied Baker's PLA on January 29, 1997. At that point, Baker had 90 days within which to file a petition for certiorari to the Supreme Court. See, e.g., Lo ...


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