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Melvin Jones v. Angela Winsor

August 10, 2012

MELVIN JONES, PETITIONER,
v.
ANGELA WINSOR,*FN1 RESPONDENT.



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

E-FILED Friday, 10 August, 2012 04:44:02 PM

Clerk, U.S. District Court, ILCD

OPINION

On July 27, 2010, Petitioner Melvin Jones submitted a pro se Petition under 28 U.S.C. § 2254 for a Writ of Habeas Corpus by a Person in State Custody [1] to the United States District Court for the Southern District of Illinois. Petitioner also filed a Motion for Leave to Proceed in Forma Pauperis [2] and a Motion to Appoint Counsel [3]. On November 2, 2011, the case was transferred from the Southern District of Illinois to this court. On June 3, 2011, Respondent filed his Response to Motion [17] and attached exhibits. On June 16, 2011, Petitioner filed his Response [18].

This court has carefully reviewed both parties' arguments and the exhibits filed in this case. Following this careful and thorough review, Petitioner's § 2254 petition is DENIED.

FACTS

I. Pre-trial proceedings

Petitioner's eleven-year old daughter, C.J., alleged that he sexually assaulted her over a three-year period. Petitioner was charged with two counts of predatory criminal sexual assault of a minor (720 ILCS 5/12-14.1(a)(1) (West 1998)), one count of aggravated criminal sexual assault (720 ILCS 12-14(a)(1) (West 1998)), and one count of unlawful possession of a weapon by a felon (720 ILCS 5/24-1.1(a) (West 1998)). Before the trial, the court conducted a hearing pursuant to 725 ILCS 5/115-10 at which Desiree Davis, C.J.'s maternal aunt, Janine Presley, C.J.'s mother, Robert Bohanek, her school principal, and Christina Copland, a forensic interviewer with the Child Network Center, testified as to the alleged sexual abuse.

II. Trial Court Proceedings

Petitioner pled guilty to the charge of unlawful possession of a weapon by a felon. After a jury trial in 2000, he was convicted of the remaining three counts (two counts of predatory criminal sexual assault and one count of aggravated criminal sexual assault). He received three consecutive ten-year prison terms for the sex offenses, to be served consecutively with a five-year sentence for the weapons offense.

III. Direct Appeal

Petitioner raised the following claims on appeal: (1) his guilty plea to unlawful possession of a weapon should be vacated because it was accepted via closed-circuit television; (2) the trial court erred by conducting his first twelve court appearances, including his arraignment and his motion to reduce bond, via closed-circuit television; (3) the trial court erred by admitting C.J.'s out-of-court statements under 725 ILCS 5/115-10; (4) his trial counsel was ineffective for failing to impeach witnesses with four categories of prior inconsistent statements that they made at the pretrial hearing pursuant to 725 ILCS 5/115-10 and for failing to tender a jury instruction about use of prior statements for impeachment; (5) the charge of predatory criminal sexual assault alleged by count II of the indictment was fatally defective because the offense did not exist at the time petitioner allegedly committed it; (6) he was not proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt for counts I, II, and III, or, alternatively, count I or count II must be vacated under the one-act, one-crime rule, pursuant to the then-in-effect Public Act 89-404; (7) petitioner was entitled to day-for-day good-conduct credit for counts I, II, and III; and (8) the trial court erred by sentencing him to consecutive sentences because the sentence was based on a factual determination - the need to protect the public - that was not presented to the jury and proven beyond a reasonable doubt. The state appellate court affirmed in part, vacated in part, and, regarding the unlawful possession of a weapon conviction, remanded for Petitioner to receive post-guilty-plea admonishments pursuant to Illinois Supreme Court Rule 605(b).

On January 11, 2002, Petitioner filed a petition for leave to appeal (PLA) in the Illinois Supreme Court and raised the following three claims: (1) that the appellate court erred by holding that count II of the indictment was not defective for charging petitioner with acts that occurred when the offense of predatory criminal sexual assault of a child did not exist; (2) that the appellate court erred when it held that trial counsel was not ineffective for failing to impeach certain of the State's witnesses with prior inconsistent statements made at a pretrial hearing; and

(3) that the trial court violated Petitioner's due process rights by allowing the first twelve court appearances, including the arraignment, to occur via closed-circuit television. On October 2, 2002, the Illinois Supreme Court denied the PLA.

After the case had been remanded, the trial judge allowed Petitioner to withdraw his guilty plea. He was then found guilty by a jury of unlawful possession of a weapon by a felon. Petitioner appealed and raised one claim: that during jury polling, the trial judge erred in failing to conduct additional voir dire of a juror who indicated she had trouble understanding English.

The state appellate court affirmed the trial court's judgment on March 14, 2007, and the Illinois State Supreme Court denied Petitioner's subsequent PLA, which presented the same claim, on May 31, 2007.

IV. Post-conviction Proceedings

Petitioner filed a pro se post-conviction petition on March 4, 2003 in which he raised three claims: that (1) he was denied a fair trial when the trial court admitted in evidence C.J.'s out-of-court statements pursuant to 725 ILCS 5/115-10; (2) trial counsel was ineffective for failing to object to admission of this hearsay and for failing to include the issue in his post-trial motion; and (3) appellate counsel was ineffective for failing to argue that trial counsel was ineffective. Following several interlocutory motions and hearings, the trial court dismissed the petition on August 1, 2008. Petitioner appealed, and the state appellate court affirmed the trial court's decision on January 22, 2010. The Illinois Supreme Court denied Petitioner's subsequent PLA on May 26, 2010. On July 27, 2010, Petitioner submitted a petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus by a Person in State Custody to the Southern District of Illinois under 28 U.S.C. § 2254. On May 18, 2011, Petitioner filed several supplemental arguments (#16). On June 3, 2011, the Respondent filed its Answer (#17).

ANALYSIS

I. Issues Raised

Petitioner raises three claims in his petition: (1) that the state appellate court's holding that Count II of the indictment was not defective conflicts with Illinois law, because his acts did not constitute a crime at the time they were committed; (2) that the state appellate court's holding that trial counsel was not ineffective for failing to impeach important State's witness when significant impeachment material was readily available impermissibly extended Illinois law; and (3) that the trial court violated Petitioner's ...


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