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Mario D. Hawkins v. Jesse Montgomery

September 22, 2011

MARIO D. HAWKINS, PETITIONER,
v.
JESSE MONTGOMERY, DIRECTOR, ILLINOIS DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS PAROLE DIVISION, RESPONDENT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: James F. Holderman, Chief Judge:

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Mario D. Hawkins ("Hawkins") has petitioned the court for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254 on the grounds that (1) he was arrested without a valid warrant and denied the opportunity to appear before a judge within 48-hours of his arrest; (2) his trial counsel was constitutionally ineffective for failing to file a timely notice of appeal; (3) his appellate counsel on initial appeal of his post-conviction petition was constitutionally ineffective for "fail[ing] to allow plaintiff to bring forth other issues/claims"; (4) his term of mandatory supervised release ("MSR") was imposed without proper admonishment by the trial court and is an "excessive" sentence; and (5) unidentified persons or agencies caused inordinate delays that prejudiced Hawkins's ability to seek collateral relief in the state court. (Dkt. No. 16 ("Hawkins's Am. Pet.") ¶ III.1.)

On October 7, 2010, this court stayed briefing on the merits of Hawkins's Amended § 2254 Petition pending the conclusion of Hawkins's post-conviction proceedings in state court. (See Dkt. Nos. 37, 38.) Five months later, on March 15, 2011, respondent Jesse Montgomery, Director of the Illinois Department of Corrections Parole Division ("Respondent"), was granted leave to file an answer to Hawkins's Amended § 2254 Petition despite the fact that Hawkins's post-conviction proceedings were still pending in state court. (Dkt. No. 50.)

Recognizing that "[a]n application for a writ of habeas corpus may be denied on the merits, notwithstanding the failure of the applicant to exhaust the remedies available in the courts of the State," 28 U.S.C. § 2254(b)(2), Respondent argues that Hawkins's Amended § 2254 Petition should be denied at this point in the proceedings "because petitioner's claims are either non-cognizable, moot, or meritless." (Dkt. No. 51 ("Ans.") at 1.) Hawkins has filed a reply to Respondent's answer, and the matter is fully-briefed before the court.*fn1

For the reasons set forth below, Respondent's request that the court deny Hawkins's Amended § 2254 Petition pursuant to § 2254(b)(2) is granted in part and denied in part. Hawkins's stated grounds for habeas relief are each denied on the merits, with the exception of Hawkins's allegation that his trial counsel was constitutionally ineffective for failing to file a notice of appeal. With respect to this remaining claim, Respondent's alternative request that the court continue the stay entered on October 7, 2010 is granted.

BACKGROUND

On August 5, 2005, following a bench trial, Hawkins was convicted of two counts of domestic battery and sentenced to serve two consecutive terms of six years of imprisonment. Hawkins's motion to reduce sentence was thereafter denied on September 15, 2005. Hawkins did not file a timely notice of appeal, allegedly due to the ineffective assistance of his trial counsel. (See Hawkins's Am. Pet. ¶ III.1.(B).) Hawkins's pro se motion to file a late notice of appeal was denied by the trial court on January 13, 2006, and a similar motion for leave to file a late notice of appeal was denied by the appellate court on April 6, 2006. In a one-sentence order issued on September 15, 2006, the Supreme Court of Illinois denied Hawkins's pro se motion for a supervisory order.

Hawkins's subsequent attempts to file a post-conviction petition in the state court in the fall of 2006 quickly became confusing and muddled, as recounted in detail in this court's October 7, 2010 memorandum opinion and order. (Dkt. No. 38 ("10/7/2010 Order") at 4-6.) Ultimately, on October 25, 2010, the Appellate Court of Illinois reversed the state trial court's order summarily dismissing Hawkins's post-conviction petition and remanded the matter to the state trial court for second-stage proceedings under the Illinois Post-Conviction Hearing Act. Hawkins's post-conviction petition remains pending in the Circuit Court of Cook County at the time of this order.

Hawkins filed his initial § 2254 Petition in the Central District of Illinois on December 3, 2009. (Dkt. No. 1.) Hawkins was scheduled to be released from Logan Correctional Center pursuant to a one-year MSR term on December 15, 2009, and he thereafter relocated to Chicago. Hawkins's habeas case was transferred to this court on January 15, 2010 (Dkt. No. 6), and Hawkins filed his Amended § 2254 Petition before this court on March 29, 2010. Hawkins completed his MSR term in December 2010.

LEGAL STANDARD

Federal habeas review of Hawkins's convictions is limited by the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 ("AEDPA"). Julian v. Bartley, 495 F.3d 487, 492 (7th Cir. 2007). Under the AEDPA, relief may be granted only if the state court's final decision on the merits of the petitioner's federal claims was "contrary to or involved an unreasonable application of, clearly established Federal law, as determined by the Supreme Court of the United States," or if the decision 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)(1)-(2).

At this point in the proceedings, the state court has yet to issue a final decision on the merits of Hawkins's post-conviction claims. There is therefore no state court decision for this court to review, and this court is not authorized under § 2254 to grant Hawkins's petition for habeas relief at this time. See 28 U.S.C. § 2254(b)(1), (b)(3). On the other hand, this court may deny Hawkins's petition for habeas relief on the merits if appropriate as a matter of law. See 28 U.S.C. § 2254(b)(2).

ANALYSIS

1. Hawkins's Initial Arrest and Detention "Ground one" of Hawkins's Amended ยง 2254 Petition Hawkins first argues that he is entitled to habeas relief because he was "[a]rrested without a valid warrant . . . [and] denied the chance/opportunity to appear before a neutral detached judge/magistrate without unnecessary delay within a 48-hour period," in violation of his due process rights. ...


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