The opinion of the court was delivered by: Charles P. Kocoras U.S. District Judge
Name of Assigned Judge Charles P. Kocoras Sitting Judge if Other or Magistrate Judge than Assigned Judge
Armstrong's petition for habeas relief is denied with prejudice. All pending motions are denied as moot.
O[ For further details see text below.] Docketing to mail notices.
This matter comes before the Court on Petitioner Craig Armstrong's ("Armstrong") petition for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. For the reasons set forth below, Armstrong's petition is denied with prejudice.
On December 3, 2010, Armstrong pleaded guilty in the Circuit Court of DuPage County to operating an uninsured vehicle and driving on a suspended license. He was sentenced to thirty days imprisonment and one year of conditional discharge. Armstrong appealed his conviction and sentence to the Second District Appellate Court of Illinois (the "Appellate Court"). On May 12, 2011, the Appellate Court entered an order advising Armstrong that he must withdraw his guilty plea to proceed with his appeal. On November 2, 2011, Armstrong had yet to withdraw his guilty plea, and the Appellate Court dismissed his appeal. Armstrong did not seek review from the Illinois Supreme Court.
On September 6, 2011, Armstrong filed a petition for habeas relief with this Court pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. Armstrong has been released from custody with respect to the underlying convictions, although he is currently incarcerated at DuPage County Jail for unrelated matters. Armstrong's release from custody on the challenged convictions does not divest him of standing to bring his petition because his convictions carry post-custody collateral consequences. See Spencer v. Kemna, 523 U.S. 1, 7-8 (1998). Particularly, Armstrong's convictions will presumably affect his ability to have his driving privileges reinstated in the future. See 730 Ill. Comp. Stat. 5/5-5-5(d).
A district court may entertain an application for a writ of habeas corpus on behalf of a state prisoner who is in custody in violation of the Constitution or laws of the United States. 28 U.S.C. § 2254(a). Prior to assessing the merits of a habeas petition, the Court must consider whether the petitioner has procedurally defaulted his claims. The procedural default doctrine precludes a federal court from reaching the merits of a habeas claim if the claim was not presented to the state courts and the state courts would now hold the claim procedurally barred. Perruquet v. Briley, 390 F.3d 505, 514 (7th Cir. 2004).
Respondent contends that Armstrong's claims are procedurally defaulted because he did not exhaust his state court remedies. Despite having pleaded guilty to the underlying offenses, Armstrong attempted to appeal his conviction and sentence. On May 12, 2011, the Appellate Court notified Armstrong that his appeal would be dismissed if he did not withdraw his guilty plea in a timely manner. Nearly six months later, Armstrong had not withdrawn his plea, and the Appellate Court dismissed his appeal on November 2, 2011.
Armstrong had thirty-five days thereafter, until December 7, 2011, to request discretionary review from the Illinois Supreme Court. See Ill. Sup. Ct. Rule 315(b). He failed to do so and is time-barred from doing so in the future. Armstrong has thus failed to exhaust his available ...