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Richard Martinez v. Nedra Chandler

June 26, 2012


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Michael P. McCUSKEY U.S. District Judge


Clerk, U.S. District Court, ILCD


Tuesday, 26 June, 2012 03:29:20 PM

On November 10, 2011, petitioner, Richard Martinez, filed a pro se Petition Under 28 U.S.C. §2254 for Writ of Habeas Corpus by a Person in State Custody (#1). On February 17, 2012, Respondent filed an Answer to the Petition (#13) and attached exhibits, including portions of the state court record. Petitioner has not filed a Reply.

This court has thoroughly reviewed the arguments of the parties and the lengthy exhibits filed in this case. Following this careful review, petitioner's Petition Under 28 U.S.C. § 2254 for Writ of Habeas Corpus by a Person in State Custody (#1) is DENIED.


On the night of June 20, 2003, Champaign County Deputy Sheriff John Reifsteck received a call regarding a man sleeping in a utility truck. When Reifsteck went to the truck and attempted to talk to petitioner, petitioner proceeded to exit the truck and run. Deputy Reifsteck pursued and caught petitioner. A struggle ensued in which petitioner ultimately obtained Reifsteck's firearm. Petitioner pointed the gun at Reifsteck, told him to backup, and proceeded to flee on foot. Shortly thereafter, petitioner broke into the home of Brad Houchens, took what appeared to be a set of car keys, and proceeded to approach the driver's side door of Houchens's truck and fumble with the lock mechanism. Petitioner then left the Houchens property and returned to the mobile home where he had been staying with a co-worker named Daniel O'Connor. Petitioner told O'Connor that petitioner "needed to get out of there right away." O'Connor believed that petitioner was intoxicated. O'Connor no longer wanted petitioner in the mobile home, so he agreed to drive petitioner away.

By this time, a number of police officers from Champaign and the surrounding area had become involved in the search for petitioner. As O'Connor drove his truck, with petitioner in the passenger seat, out of the trailer park, he came upon several police officers. O'Connor attempted to follow police orders by putting the truck in park and putting his hands outside the truck window. Petitioner did not comply and attempted to shift the truck back into drive. O'Connor believed that petitioner was also attempting to press the truck's gas pedal with his hand. Believing that they were in danger, two officers fired shots at petitioner. Petitioner was shot once in the face and apprehended. Petitioner claims that, due to his level of intoxication or the injuries he sustained, he recalls only sporadic pieces of the events that took place that night.

Petitioner was indicted on five counts: (1) burglary, with respect to the utility truck; (2) aggravated battery, committed upon Officer John Reifsteck; (3) possession of a stolen firearm, with respect to petitioner's possession of Reifsteck's firearm; (4) disarming a peace officer, with respect to petitioner's removal of Reifsteck's firearm; and (5) residential burglary, with respect to petitioner's entry into Brad Houchens's home with the intent to commit theft.

On October 6, 2003, in the Circuit Court of Champaign County, Illinois, petitioner entered into an open plea of guilty to one count of disarming a peace officer and one count of residential burglary. Petitioner was admonished by the court to "not offer to plead guilty here today if there is anything you do not understand." After receiving specific instructions from the court regarding his plea options and the consequences of those options, petitioner went through with his guilty plea. Petitioner confirmed that the only agreement with respect to his guilty plea was that Counts I through III would be dropped, leaving the residential burglary charge and disarming a peace officer charge. On January 23, 2004, the trial court sentenced petitioner to consecutive terms of seven years for disarming a peace officer and fifteen years for residential burglary. Petitioner filed a motion to reconsider sentence, or, in the alternative, for a new sentence hearing; the court denied the motion on March 19, 2004.

Petitioner appealed his sentence to the Illinois Appellate Court, Fourth District, arguing that the trial court erred in: (1) imposing the maximum sentences on each count; and (2) ordering consecutive sentences. On July 12, 2005, the appellate court affirmed the trial court's judgment, holding that the trial court did not abuse its discretion. Petitioner did not file a petition for leave to appeal with the Illinois Supreme Court.

On January 13, 2006, petitioner filed a pro se petition for post-conviction relief in the Circuit Court of Champaign County, alleging that plea counsel Walter Ding was ineffective in that he: (1) failed to have meaningful conversations with petitioner about the case; (2) did not ask for, and did not listen to, information from petitioner about the incident in question; (3) misrepresented the State's plea offer; and (4) failed to file a motion to withdraw the guilty plea. Petitioner also alleged that sentencing counsel Kevin Nolan was ineffective for failing to file a motion to withdraw his guilty plea.

On February 15, 2007, the trial court held a hearing on petitioner's post-conviction petition. Petitioner and Ding testified at the hearing. On April 28, 2008, the trial court issued an opinion. Using the two prong test of Strickland v. Washington, the court rejected each of petitioner's ineffective assistance allegations against Ding, but held that petitioner established deficient performance by Nolan. See Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S 668 (1984). The court ...

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