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United States of America Ex Rel. v. Mike Atchison

August 2, 2012

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA EX REL.
CHRISTOPHER SCOTT, PETITIONER,
v.
MIKE ATCHISON,*FN1 WARDEN, MENARD CORRECTIONAL CENTER, RESPONDENT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge Robert W. Gettleman

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Petitioner Christopher Scott, an inmate incarcerated at Menard Correctional Center, has filed a pro se petition for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. Petitioner has also filed motions for appointment of counsel and to subpoena documents. For the following reasons, the motion for appointment of counsel, the motion to subpoena documents, and the § 2254 petition are denied, and the court declines to issue a certificate of appealability.

BACKGROUND

Petitioner was indicted for first-degree murder, armed robbery, and residential burglary in Will County, Illinois. The Circuit Court of Will County denied petitioner's motion to suppress his oral and videotaped confessions, and after a stipulated bench trial,*fn2 petitioner was convicted of the three offenses and was sentenced to 69 years' imprisonment. The evidence presented at trial established that on August 31, 2000, petitioner murdered Delores Bland by firing a .38 caliber revolver into the back of her head while petitioner, his cousin Ian Lockhart, and Lockhart's brother-in-law Keith Bland Jr. (who was also Delores's stepson) were robbing her home. Lockhart and Bland were each tried separately and were both convicted of the same offenses as petitioner.

Petitioner appealed, challenging the trial court's denial of his motion to suppress his confessions on the grounds that the police officers who interviewed him had physically abused him. The Illinois Appellate Court affirmed. Order, People v. Scott, No. 3-04-0599 (Ill. App. Ct. Mar. 23, 2007). Petitioner filed a petition for leave to appeal ("PLA") to the Illinois Supreme Court, again arguing that his confession was the product of physical abuse. His PLA was denied. Order, People v. Scott, No. 105548 (Ill. Jan. 30, 2008).

Petitioner next filed a pro se post-conviction petition under 725 Ill. Comp. Stat. 5/122-1, et seq., arguing in relevant part that his trial counsel was ineffective for failing to investigate and introduce two letters purportedly written to petitioner by Keith Bland, Jr. The trial court summarily dismissed the petition, finding that it was patently without merit. Order, People v. Scott, No. 01-CF-88 (Will Cty. Cir. Ct. Sept. 19, 2008).

Petitioner appealed the denial of his post-conviction petition, again raising the ineffective assistance claim based on trial counsel's failure to investigate and introduce the letters, and the Illinois Appellate Court affirmed. Order, People v. Scott, No. 3-08-0799 (Ill. App. Ct. 2010). Petitioner filed a PLA, which respondent asserts the Illinois Supreme Court denied. (Respondent's exhibit purportedly reflecting the denial of petitioner's PLA on the first round of post-conviction review is, in fact, a copy of the Illinois Supreme Court order denying petitioner's PLA on direct review, dated January 30, 2008). Again, petitioner did not file a petition for a writ of certiorari to the United States Supreme Court.

On February 24, 2010, petitioner proceeded to file a second post-conviction petition, which the trial court denied. Order, People v. Scott, No. 01 CF 88 (Will Cty. Cir. Ct. Mar. 4, 2010). Petitioner appealed, and his appointed counsel then filed a motion for leave to withdraw pursuant to Pennsylvania v. Finley, 481 U.S. 551 (1987). The Appellate Court granted the Finley motion and affirmed the trial court's denial of petitioner's request to file a successive post-conviction petition. Order, People v. Scott, No. 3-10-0242 (Ill. App. Ct. 2011). Petitioner did not file a PLA.

On May 23, 2011, petitioner filed the instant petition for a writ of habeas corpus, which raises five claims:

(1) trial counsel was ineffective for failing to investigate or introduce into evidence two letters allegedly written by Keith Bland, Jr., that stated that petitioner had not participated in the offense and that he had given a false confession;

(2) the Illinois Appellate Court misapplied state post-conviction law when it rejected petitioner's actual innocence claim;

(3) the Illinois Appellate Court misapplied state post-conviction law when it rejected petitioner's ineffective assistance of trial counsel claim;

(4) petitioner is actually innocent, as evidenced by the letters from Keith Bland, Jr.; and

(5) petitioner's confessions should have been suppressed because:

(a) they were the product of physical ...


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