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United States of America Ex Rel. v. Donald Gaetz

January 31, 2011

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA EX REL.
CORNELIUS P. LAUGHLIN PETITIONER,
v.
DONALD GAETZ, WARDEN, MENARD CORRECTIONAL CENTER, RESPONDENT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge Robert M. Dow, Jr.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

This matter is before the Court on Respondent Donald Gaetz's motion to dismiss [14] Petitioner Cornelius P. Laughlin's petition for habeas corpus on the ground that the petition is time barred under the one year statute of limitations that applies to federal habeas corpus petitions under the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act ("AEDPA"). For the reasons stated below, the Court grants Respondent's motion [14], and Petitioner's petition for habeas corpus is dismissed with prejudice.

I. Background

On November 10, 2000, Petitioner and another man shot and killed Osciel Morales. SeeAppellate Court Order, People v. Laughlin, No. 1-03-1618. (Ill. App. Ct. 1st Dist. Oct. 5, 2006), at 2, 7, Ex. A to [16]. Petitioner was charged with first degree murder and tried before a jury in the Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois. Id. at 1. On May 2, 2003, the jury found Petitioner guilty of first degree murder. Id. The trial court then sentenced Petitioner to thirty-two years in prison for the murder and an additional twenty-five years for Petitioner's discharge of a firearm in the course of the murder. Id.; see 730 ILCS 5/5-8-1(1)(d)(3) (West 2000). Petitioner is now in the custody of Respondent, the Warden of the Menard Correctional Center in Menard, Illinois.

On October 5, 2006, the Illinois Appellate Court, on direct appeal, affirmed Petitioner's conviction. SeeAppellate Court Order, Ex. A to [16] at 39. Petitioner then filed a petition for leave to appeal ("PLA") in the Illinois Supreme Court that was denied on March 28, 2007. See Order denying PLA, People v. Laughlin, No. 103873, 865 N.E.2d 973 (Ill. 2007) (Table).

On May 9, 2003, while his direct appeal was still pending, Petitioner filed a post-conviction petition pursuant to the Illinois Post-conviction Hearing Act (codified at 725 ILCS 5/122-1, et seq.) in the Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois.*fn1 The state trial court denied the petition on July 18, 2003. SeeOrder dismissing post-conviction petition, People v. Laughlin, No. 01 CR 5781 (Cir. Ct. Cook Cty., Ill. July 18, 2003), at 4, Ex. D to [16]. Petitioner did not appeal that judgment.

On August 30, 2007, Petitioner filed a second post-conviction petition in the Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois along with a motion for leave to file that petition. On October 26, 2007, the Circuit Court of Cook County denied the motion and assessed Petitioner a $150 fine for filing a frivolous pleading. See Order denying post-conviction petition as successive, People v. Laughlin, No. 01 CR 5871 (Cir. Ct. Cook Cty., Ill. Oct. 26, 2007), Ex. H to [16]. Petitioner appealed the denial of leave to file a successive post-conviction petition to the Illinois Appellate Court, First District, which affirmed the denial on February 26, 2009. SeeAppellate Court Order, People v. Laughlin, No. 01 CR 5871 (Ill. App. Ct. 1st Dist. Feb. 26, 2009), Ex. E to [16].

Petitioner then filed a PLA with the Illinois Supreme Court, which denied the PLA on September 30, 2009. Order denying PLA, People v. Laughlin, No. 108524, 919 N.E.2d 360 (Ill. 2009) (Table).

On March 24, 2010, Petitioner filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus in this Court pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254 [1]. The petition claims that (1) the trial court erred in refusing to give a prior inconsistent statement instruction; (2) the trial court should have excluded certain expert testimony; and (3) trial counsel was ineffective for neglecting to thoroughly cross-examine a witness. (Id. at 6-18). Respondent filed the instant motion to dismiss on June 8, 2010. The Court set July 16, 2010 as the due date for Petitioner's response [17]. On November 29, 2010, Petitioner filed a motion for leave to file a late response, which the Court granted [19, 20]. Respondent did not file a reply.

II. Analysis

It is undisputed that Petitioner has no further state court avenues of review, and thus he has exhausted his available state remedies as required by 28 U.S.C. § 2254(b). The question raised in Respondent's motion is whether the petition should be dismissed as untimely under the one year statute of limitations for Section 2254 petitions set forth in 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d)(1). Section 2244(d)(1) states:

A 1-year period of limitation shall apply to an application for a writ of habeas corpus by a person in custody pursuant to a judgment of a State court. The limitation period shall run from the latest of ---

(A) the date on which judgment became final by the conclusion of direct review or the expiration of the time for seeking such review;

(B) the date on which the impediment to filing an application created by State action in violation of the Constitution or laws of the United States is removed, if the applicant ...


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