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United States of America, Ex Rel v. Guy D. Pierce

April 19, 2011

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, EX REL.,
DAVID HUGHES, PETITIONER,
v.
GUY D. PIERCE, WARDEN, PONTIAC CORRECTIONAL CENTER, RESPONDENT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Amy J. St. Eve, District Judge:

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

On October 2, 2009, pro se Petitioner David Hughes filed the instant petition for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d). Before the Court is Respondent's motion to dismiss Hughes' habeas petition as untimely. See 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d)(1). In response to Respondent's motion to dismiss, Hughes maintains that the statutory tolling provision pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d)(1)(B) applies to his case due to a state-created impediment that violated his constitutional rights. On March 16, 2010, the Court appointed counsel for Hughes and on February 10 and 11, 2011, the Court conducted an evidentiary hearing due to the fact-intensive questions relating to Hughes' state-created impediment claim. In light of the testimony and documentary evidence, along with the Court's credibility determinations, the Court grants Respondent's motion and dismisses Hughes' habeas petition as untimely. The Court also declines to certify any issues for appeal pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2253(c)(2).

BACKGROUND

On July 21, 1997, in the Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois, Hughes pleaded guilty to felony murder, residential burglary, robbery, and concealment of a homicidal death. On July 25, 1997, the Circuit Court entered judgment and sentenced Hughes to a term of natural life imprisonment for felony murder and concurrent prison terms of fifteen, seven, and five years on the remaining counts, respectively. On November 2, 1998, Hughes mailed to the Illinois Appellate Court a motion for leave to file a "Late Notice of Appeal" and for the appointment of counsel. The Illinois Appellate Court denied Hughes' motion on November 25, 1998.

On February 23, 1999, Hughes filed a pro se post-conviction petition pursuant to 725 ILCS 5/122-1, et seq., in the Circuit Court of Cook County. Thereafter, Hughes supplemented and amended his post-conviction petition several times. On February 8, 2007, the Circuit Court vacated Hughes' conviction and sentence on the robbery charge, but dismissed the remainder of his post-conviction claims. The Illinois Appellate Court affirmed the Circuit Court's post-conviction ruling on March 17, 2009. Hughes then filed a petition for leave to appeal ("PLA") that the Supreme Court of Illinois denied on September 30, 2009. Hughes did not file a petition for a writ of certiorari with the United States Supreme Court.

On October 2, 2009, Hughes filed the present pro se habeas petition pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d). Construing his pro se petition liberally, see Ward v. Jenkins, 613 F.3d 692, 697 (7th Cir. 2010), Hughes brings the following claims: (1) he pleaded guilty under the mistaken belief that he was eligible for the death penalty; (2) his trial counsel was constitutionally ineffective for advising him to enter a guilty plea on the basis that he faced the death penalty; (3) his trial counsel was constitutionally ineffective for failing to file a motion to withdraw his guilty plea; and (4) the trial court erred in finding him eligible for the death penalty on the basis of his commission of a felony murder.

LEGAL STANDARD

"AEDPA establishes a 1-year period of limitation for a state prisoner to file a federal application for a writ of habeas corpus." Wall v. Kholi, ___ U.S. ___, 131 S.Ct. 1278, 2011 WL 767700, at *4 (Mar. 7, 2011) (citing 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d)(1)(A)); see also Griffith v. Rednour, 614 F.3d 328, 329 (7th Cir. 2010). "This period runs 'from the latest of' four specified dates, including":

(A) the date on which the 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 was prevented from filing by such State action;

(C) the date on which the constitutional right asserted was initially recognized by the Supreme Court, if the right has been newly recognized by the Supreme Court and made retroactively applicable to cases on collateral review; or

(D) the date on which the factual predicate of the claim or claims presented could have been discovered through the exercise of due diligence.

Wall, ___ U.S. ___, 131 S.Ct. 1278, 2011 WL 767700, at *4 (quoting 28 U.S.C. ...


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