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United States ex rel Bolden v. Walls

April 30, 2010

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, EX REL.EDDIE BOLDEN, PETITIONER,
v.
JONATHAN WALLS, WARDEN, MENARD CORRECTIONAL CENTER, RESPONDENT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Wayne R. Andersen District Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

This case is before the court on the motion of Petitioner Eddie Bolden ("Bolden") for reinstatement of his habeas corpus petition and for excuse of the exhaustion requirement. For the reasons set forth below, the motion [9] is denied.

BACKGROUND

In 1996, following a jury trial in the Circuit Court of Cook County, Bolden was convicted of first degree murders of two persons and of the attempted first degree murder and aggravated battery of a third person. People v. Bolden, 756 N.E.2d 812, 814 (Ill. 2001). He was sentenced to natural life imprisonment for the two murder convictions, and a consecutive term of 30 years imprisonment for the attempted murder. Id. The Appellate Court affirmed these convictions and sentences in an unpublished order. Id. On June 21, 2001, the Supreme Court of Illinois affirmed the judgment of the appellate court. Id.

On November 1, 1999, Bolden initiated a state post-conviction proceeding in the Circuit Court of Cook County. (Pet'r's Mot. for Reinstatement at 1.) This matter is still pending in the Circuit Court of Cook County.

On October 17, 2002, Bolden filed before this Court a petition for writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. (Dkt. #1.) On that same day, Bolden also filed a motion to stay proceedings "until Petitioner is able to exhaust his remaining state remedies." (Dkt. #5 at 1.) On November 19, 2002, this Court dismissed Bolden's case without prejudice, stating that "[t]he petitioner may file a motion for reinstatement . . . within sixty days after the termination of still-pending proceedings in the Illinois state court system relating to the petitioner's conviction." (Dkt. #8 at 2.)

On July 6, 2009, Bolden filed the instant motion, seeking to reinstate his habeas petition and excuse the exhaustion requirement due to inordinate delay. Bolden seeks relief from this Court because the state post-conviction proceeding initiated in 1999 has yet to be resolved. Respondent opposed the motion, arguing that the delay is not attributable to the State.

According to the materials submitted by the parties, the following is a summary of what has occurred in the state post-conviction case. The case was originally assigned to the Illinois Public Defender's Office, and passed between three different assistant public defenders. (Pet'r's Mot. for Reinstatement Ex. B; Resp. at 3.) Bolden retained private counsel, Steven Greenberg ("Greenberg"), in June 2003, and Mr. Greenberg entered his appearance as Bolden's counsel in August 2003. (Pet'r's Mot. for Reinstatement at 2; Resp. at 3.) From January 2000 to August 2003, Bolden's counsel "agreed to continue the case sixteen times, and the case was continued on petitioner's motion once," with these continuances resulting in "approximately forty-one months of delay." (Resp. at 3.)

Greenberg served as counsel for Bolden from August 2003 through December 2007, when Bolden fired Greenberg and hired Bruce Cowan ("Cowan") as his attorney. During the time when Greenberg represented Bolden, Greenberg "agreed to nineteen continuances and moved for two more," resulting in "approximately thirty-four months of additional delay." (Id.)

On October 6, 2008, Bolden filed an "Emergency Motion to Provide Counsel Other Than Public Defender or Proceed Pro Se and Provide Stand-By Counsel." (Pet'r's Mot. for Reinstatement Ex. C.) Bolden explained that this was his "effort to dismiss Bruce Cowan as counsel," due to the fact that Cowan was not working on Bolden's behalf. (Pet'r's Mot. for Reinstatement at 2.) As far as this Court is aware, there has been no ruling on this motion, nor any papers filed in response to it. Nothing in the record of the Circuit Court proceedings indicates that Bolden has ever asked that court to rule on any post-conviction petition filed by him. Instead, he has repeatedly switched attorneys.

On February 9, 2009, Bolden filed his own pro se petition. (Id.; Resp. at 4.) Bolden asserts that he has not personally appeared in court on this matter since December 10, 2007. (Pet'r's Reply at 6.)

LEGAL STANDARD

Federal courts may issue a writ of habeas corpus if a petitioner demonstrates that he is "in [state] custody in violation of the Constitution or laws or treaties of the United States." 28 U.S.C. §2254(a); Moffat v. Gilmore, 113 F.3d 698, 702 (7th Cir. 1997). In order for the federal courts to grant habeas relief, the state court's judgment must be deemed to have "(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). As such, federal courts can grant habeas relief only when there is a violation of federal statutory or constitutional law. Vecchio v. Ill. Dep't. of Corr., 31 F.3d 1363, 1370 (7th Cir. 1994) (en banc).

Before a federal court may review the merits of a habeas petition, the petitioner must exhaust state court remedies by presenting his claims to the state court. 28 U.S.C. §2254(b)(1)(A); O'Sullivan v. Boerckel, 526 U.S. 838, 842 (1999). In other words, the petitioner is required to provide state courts with a meaningful opportunity to "pass upon the substance of the claims later presented in federal court." Chambers v. McCaughtry, 264 F.3d 732, 737 (7th Cir. 2001). A meaningful opportunity means that a petitioner "must invoke one complete round of the State's established appellate review process" to resolve any constitutional issues. O'Sullivan, 526 U.S. at 845. The rule in Illinois is that "one full round" is completed once the petitioner has presented the habeas claims at each stage of the appellate process, up through the Illinois Supreme Court. ...


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