Argued April 12, 2013.
Appeals from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division. Nos. 1:11-cv-04310 and 1:11-cv-03327— John W. Darrah and Joan B. Gottschall, Judges.
Before Bauer, Posner, and Flaum, Circuit Judges.
FLAUM, Circuit Judge.
Petitioners Paul Villanueva and Orencio Serrano both pled guilty to unrelated crimes in exchange for a prison sentence agreed to with the state. Several years into those sentences, they learned their pleas also carried a three-year term of mandatory supervised release. They now petition for writs of habeas corpus suggesting the state deprived them of the benefit of their plea bargains in violation of Santobello v. New York, 404 U.S. 257 (1971). Separate district courts denied those petitions, and we affirm.
A. Factual Background
1. Criminal Proceedings
Both Villanueva and Serrano entered guilty pleas to unrelated charges—Serrano to one count of attempted first degree murder and to one count of possession of cannabis, Villanueva to one count of first degree murder. According to Serrano, he pled guilty in exchange for a fourteen-year prison sentence on the attempted murder charge and a consecutive one-year sentence on the possession charge. Villanueva asserts that he pled for a twenty-five year sentence on his murder charge. According to petitioners, the plea agreements made no mention of any term of supervised release even though Illinois imposes a three-year term of mandatory supervised release (MSR) on the murder and attempted murder charges. See 730 ILCS 5/5-8-1(d)(1).
At both Serrano's and Villanueva's plea hearings, however, the state judges mentioned the mandatory term of supervised release and obtained defendants' understanding that the law imposed such a term. For example, the state judge told Serrano:
You understand that [the attempted murder charge] is a Class X felony and it is subject to a possible penalty of incarceration in the penitentiary for a determinant period of time between 6 and 30 years, a fine of up to $25, 000 or both, and it's also subject to what's called mandatory supervised release for a period after your release from the penitentiary. Do you understand that?
"Yes, " Serrano answered, before pleading guilty and receiving consecutive one- and fourteen-year sentences. The judge asked Serrano if he had any questions; Serrano did not. The state judge made no mention of the MSR term, and the judgment of conviction likewise omitted any reference to the MSR term. Serrano's conviction became final when the time for seeking appellate review passed on July 5, 2002.
Villanueva's case proceeded along similar lines. After Villanueva expressed his desire to plead guilty, the state judge told Villanueva:
First degree murder carries with it a possible penalty of not less than 20 nor more than 60 years in the Illinois Department of Corrections and a period of mandatory supervised release of 3 years.
Villanueva told the state judge he understood these consequences. He also indicated that no one had "promise[d] [him] anything other than what [the] sentence would be, and that is 25 years in the Illinois Department of Corrections[.]"
The court sentenced him "pursuant to . . . the disposition arrived at and agreed to by the parties and the Court [to a term of] 25 years in the Illinois Department of Corrections." During sentencing, the state judge did not mention any term of MSR and the judgment of conviction did not reflect any term ...