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Leonard Kidd v. Marcus Hardy

June 20, 2012

LEONARD KIDD, PETITIONER,
v.
MARCUS HARDY, RESPONDENT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Samuel Der-yeghiayan, District Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION

This matter is before the court on Petitioner Leonard Kidd's (Kidd)petition for writ of habeas corpus (Petition) brought pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. For the reasons stated below, the court denies the Petition.

BACKGROUND

Kidd contends that he is currently serving a life sentence for murder, a thirty year sentence for aggravated arson, and is also serving an additional sentence for an unrelated matter. Kidd was convicted in 1987 in Illinois state court of one count of arson and ten counts of murder, relating to the deaths of ten children, who died as a result of a fire set to a residential building. (R Ex. A 1). Kidd was sentenced to death for the murders and he appealed directly to the Illinois Supreme Court, which ultimately remanded the case for a re-trial. (R Ex. A 1). Kidd was retried before a jury and Kidd chose to represent himself at his second trial, with counsel from his first trial serving as standby counsel. Kidd was again convicted and again sentenced to death. Kidd appealed directly to the Illinois Supreme Court, which affirmed the trial court. In May 1996, while Kidd's direct appeal was pending, Kidd filed a pro se post-conviction petition. Kidd was then appointed counsel, who filed amended post-conviction petitions and a supplemental brief. The state trial court granted the State's motion to dismiss the post-conviction petitions. In January 2003, Kidd's capital sentence was commuted to life imprisonment and his appeal was transferred to the Illinois State intermediate appellate courts. In May 2010, the Illinois Appellate Court affirmed the trial court's ruling on the post-conviction petitions. Kidd then filed a petition for leave to appeal (PLA) with the Illinois Supreme Court, which was denied on September 29, 2010. On September 28, 2011, Kidd filed the Petition in this action.

LEGAL STANDARD

An individual in custody pursuant to state court judgment may seek a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254, which provides the following:

An application for a writ of habeas corpus on behalf of a person in custody pursuant to the judgment of a State court shall not be granted with respect to any claim that was adjudicated on the merits in State court proceedings unless the adjudication of the claim--(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). The decision made by a state court is deemed to be contrary to clearly established federal law "'if the state court applies a rule different from the governing law set forth in [Supreme Court] cases, or if it decides a case differently than [the Supreme Court has] done on a set of materially indistinguishable facts.'" Emerson v. Shaw, 575 F.3d 680, 684 (7th Cir. 2009)(quoting Bell v. Cone, 535 U.S. 685, 694 (2002)). The decision by a state court is deemed to involve an unreasonable application of clearly established federal law "'if the state court correctly identifies the governing legal principle from [Supreme Court] decisions but unreasonably applies it to the facts of the particular case.'" Emerson, 575 F.3d at 684 (quoting Bell, 535 U.S. at 694).

DISCUSSION

Kidd asserts the following claims in the Petition: (1) that Kidd was denied due process and effective assistance of counsel because the trial court failed to hold a formal fitness hearing to determine whether Kidd was fit to waive counsel and proceed pro se (Claim 1), (2) that Kidd's waiver of his right to counsel was not knowing and voluntary (Claim 2), and (3) that Kidd was denied due process and effective assistance of counsel, since, according to Kidd, his former counsel provided the State with false information that led to an illegal interrogation and unreliable confession (Claim 3).

I. Formal Fitness Hearing(Claim 1)

Respondent argues that Claim 1 is procedurally defaulted, and that even if the claim was not procedurally defaulted, Kidd has not shown that the claim has any merit.

A. Procedural Default

Respondent contends that Claim 1 is procedurally defaulted since the Illinois Appellate Court ruled based upon an independent and adequate state law ground. If a state court "denies a prisoner relief on a question of federal law and bases its decision on a state procedural ground that is independent of the federal question, the federal question is procedurally defaulted." Lee v. Davis, 328 F.3d 896, 899-900 (7th Cir. 2003); see also Promotor v. Pollard, 628 F.3d 878, 885 (7th Cir. 2010) (stating that "[g]enerally, a federal court may not grant habeas relief if the state court's decision was based on an adequate and independent state law ground"). The adequacy of a decision based on a state ground "is a question of federal law, and the ground is considered adequate only if the state court applies the rule in a consistent and principled way." Promotor, 628 F.3d at 885. A ...


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