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Lawrence Coleman v. Marcus Hardy

August 3, 2012


Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division. No. 1:06-cv-00184--Rebecca R. Pallmeyer, Judge.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Bauer, Circuit Judge.

ARGUED APRIL 3, 2012--

Before BAUER, POSNER and KANNE, Circuit Judges.

The petitioner-appellant, Lawrence Coleman, was convicted of murder in Illinois and sen- tenced to 28 years in prison. Coleman was denied relief in state court and eventually filed a federal habeas petition in district court under 28 U.S.C. § 2254. The district court also denied relief; we granted a certificate of appealability. For the following reasons, we affirm the denial of the habeas petition.


This case arises from a murder that took place on No- vember 30, 1998. Early that morning, a group of men affiliated with a gang known as the Renegade Vice Lords gathered outside of Jacqueline Brenaugh's apartment on the South Side of Chicago. The men believed that Jamil Caraway, a member of a rival gang, was hiding out in her apartment, and they meant to kill him. Instead, they shot and killed Jacqueline Brenaugh, when she peered out of her apartment window to get a better look at the men outside.

Detective Philip Graziano of the Chicago Police Depart- ment was assigned to the case. After some investigation, he zeroed in on Lawrence Coleman as a suspect. At about 11:30 a.m. on December 12, Detective Graziano arrested Coleman and began an interrogation. By mid- night, Graziano had elicited a confession from Coleman; specifically, Coleman admitted serving as an accomplice in Brenaugh's murder. Graziano called on Assistant State's Attorney Nancy Nazarian to assist him in re- cording the confession. She arrived at the police station sometime around midnight of December 13, and about four hours later, a court reporter recorded Coleman's full confession.

Coleman subsequently was indicted, pleaded not guilty, and moved to suppress his confession. Central to the motion to suppress was Coleman's claim that he had invoked his right to an attorney several times and that the police had proceeded in violation of Miranda v. Arizona. The parties offered conflicting testimony on this issue at the suppression hearing; the court denied Coleman's motion, holding that "the credibility is resolved on behalf of the State." At trial, a jury found Coleman guilty of first-degree murder under an accom- plice liability theory. He was sentenced to 28 years in prison.

Coleman appealed his conviction in state court, arguing, among other things, that the trial court had improperly refused to suppress his confession. He in- cluded an affidavit from his attorney, David Wiener, stating that Wiener had called the police station during the December 12 interrogation and requested that police cease questioning his client. The Illinois ap- pellate court concluded that the suppression question came down to a credibility determination, and that the trial court had properly exercised its discretion in crediting the State's witnesses over Coleman. State of Illinois v. Coleman, No. 1-00-4022 (Ill. App. Ct. Sept. 27, 2002). The court affirmed Coleman's conviction.

Coleman has mounted several challenges to his con- viction over the course of many years, so a short sum- mary of the current procedural posture is in order.

After exhausting his state post-conviction remedies, Coleman filed a pro se habeas petition in federal court pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. The district court denied relief, see U.S. ex rel. Coleman v. Shaw, No. 06C184, 2009 WL 1904370 (N.D. Ill. July 1, 2009), and Coleman re- sponded by filing a motion to reconsider, plus several other motions. The district court consolidated the motions as a Rule 60(b) request for relief, considered each of Coleman's arguments on the merits, and rejected each one; the court then denied him a certificate of appealability. Coleman appealed to this Court; after reviewing the record, we granted a certificate of ap- pealability, but limited to the following issue: "whether the state courts reasonably determined that Coleman did not request counsel when he was arrested or during the 17 hours he was in custody before giving a statement and, thus, whether Coleman's statement was admissible at trial." This is now the sole issue before us on appeal.


A. Habeas Standards of Review

We review a district court's denial of habeas relief de novo. Northern v. Boatwright, 594 F.3d 555, 559 (7th Cir. 2010). Our review of state court decisions, however, is limited by the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act (AEDPA). Thus, when we are dealing with a state court's determination on the merits, we may only grant habeas relief if the decision "was contrary to, or in- volved an unreasonable application of, clearly estab- lished Federal law," or "was based on an unreasonable determination of the facts in light of the evidence pre- sented in the State court proceeding." 28 U.S.C. ยง 2254(d)(1)-(2); see also Harrington v. Richter, 131 S. Ct. 770, 783-84 (2011). The relevant decision ...

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