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Dolis v. Gilson

April 26, 2010


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Virginia M. Kendall United States District Court Judge Northern District of Illinois

Judge Virginia M. Kendall


Before the Court is Petitioner James Dolis's Motion to Reconsider this Court's denial of his federal petition for writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d)(1). For the following reasons, the Court denies Dolis's Motion to Reconsider.


A jury in the Circuit Court of Cook County convicted Petitioner James Dolis ("Dolis") of home invasion and aggravated battery. In April 2007, Dolis filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus with this Court pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. On December 23, 2009, the Court dismissed Dolis's petition, finding the majority of his claims procedurally defaulted. With respect to the only claim that survived procedural default-Dolis's judicial inquiry claim-the Court denied Dolis's habeas petition under the standard set forth in the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 ("AEDPA"). See 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d). On January 19, 2010, Dolis filed this Motion to Reconsider the Court's ruling. On February 17, 2010, Dolis filed an Addendum to his Motion for Reconsideration.


A motion to alter or amend the judgment pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 59(e) ("Rule 59(e)") allows the movant to bring to the Court's attention manifest errors of law or fact or newly discovered evidence. See United States v. Resnick, 594 F.3d 562, 568 (7th Cir. 2010).*fn1

Manifest error is the "wholesale disregard, misapplication, or failure to recognize controlling precedent." Oto v. Metro. Life Ins. Co., 224 F.3d 601, 606 (7th Cir. 2000). A Rule 59(e) motion is not a "vehicle for a party to undo its own procedural failures, and it certainly does not allow a party introduce new evidence or advance arguments that could have and should have been presented to the district court prior to the judgment." Resnick, 594 F.3d at 568. Whether to grant a Rule 59(e) motion "is entrusted to the sound judgment of the district court." Matter of Prince, 85 F.3d 314, 324 (7th Cir. 1996).


Dolis raises ten grounds for reconsideration in his Motion and Addendum. Dolis first argues, as a general matter, that the Court did not consider his petition on its merits because it dismissed many of his claims as procedurally defaulted. In reviewing habeas petitioner, however, courts are precluded from granting relief on claims where the petitioner "has exhausted his state court remedies without properly asserting his federal claim at each level of state court review," Crockett v. Hulick, 542 F.3d 1183, 1192 (7th Cir. 2008) (internal citation omitted). The Court properly applied this standard of review to Dolis's habeas petition, and thus considered his petition on the merits. (See R. 76.)

I. Alleged Errors of Fact

Dolis contends this Court's opinion contained three errors of fact: (1) that Dolis was not residing at 3340 North Kilpatrick on the date of the aggravated battery; (2) that his first petition for leave to appeal ("PLA") omitted his ineffective assistance of trial counsel claim; and (3) that he did not raise his Fourth Amendment claim in state court.

With respect to the first alleged error of fact, this Court's opinion made no factual findings as to whether Dolis lived at 3340 North Kilpatrick at the time of the incident. Rather, the Court explained that Dolis's ex-girlfriend, Ellen Stefanits ("Stefanits"), testified at trial that Dolis was not living with her at 3340 North Kilpatrick the time of the incident. (See R. 76 at p. 2.) The Court then analyzed whether the evidence introduced by Dolis so blatantly contradicted Stefanits' testimony that it was now "more likely than not that no reasonable juror would have found [Dolis] guilty beyond a reasonable doubt." See House v. Bell, 547 U.S. 518, 536 (2006); (see also R. 76 at p. 19.) Because the Court never made a determination as to whether Dolis in fact resided at 3340 North Kilpatrick, Dolis fails to show a manifest error of fact. See Resnik, 594 F.3d at 568.

Second, Dolis claims that this Court erred in stating that he did not include his ineffective assistance of trial counsel claim in his first PLA. Because Dolis's first PLA only addressed his judicial inquiry claim, however (see R. 47, Ex. G at p. 3), this Court did not err in its factual assertion that Dolis's ...

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