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Clifton v. Bartley

United States District Court, Seventh Circuit

June 18, 2013

MELVIN CLIFTON, Petitioner,
v.
KEN BARTLEY, Respondant.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

SAMUEL DER-YEGHIAYAN, District Judge.

This matter is before the court on Petitioner Melvin Clifton's (Clifton) petition for writ of habeas corpus (Petition). For the reasons stated below, the Petition is dismissed.

BACKGROUND

Clifton was convicted in a jury trial in Illinois state court of first degree murder and attempted first degree murder. On May 22, 1998, Clifton was sentenced to 55 years of imprisonment on the first degree murder conviction and 25 years of imprisonment on the attempted first degree murder conviction, with the sentences to run consecutively. Clifton appealed his conviction and sentence, and on April 24, 2001, the Illinois Appellate Court affirmed Clifton's conviction, but vacated the order requiring Clifton's sentences to run consecutively in light of Apprendi v. New Jersey, 530 U.S. 466 (2000). See People v. Clifton, 750 N.E.2d 686, 708 (Ill.App.Ct. 2001). Clifton filed a petition for leave to appeal (PLA) to the Illinois Supreme Court, which was denied on February 5, 2003. However, in its February 5, 2003 order, the Illinois Supreme Court directed the Illinois Appellate Court to vacate the judgment it entered on April 24, 2001, and reconsider its decision in light of additional case law. See People v. Clifton, 783 N.E.2d 31, 31 (Ill.App.Ct. 2003). On August 4, 2003, in a revised decision, the Illinois Appellate Court again affirmed Clifton's conviction. People v. Clifton, 795 N.E.2d 887, 903 (Ill.App.Ct. 2003). The Illinois Appellate Court also held that the consecutive sentences originally imposed in Clifton's case were proper, and Clifton's original sentence was therefore affirmed. Id. Clifton did not file a PLA relating to the Illinois Appellate Court's revised decision.

On May 17, 2001, during the pendency of Clifton's direct appeal, Clifton filed a petition for post-conviction relief (Post-Conviction Petition) in the Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois. On June 30, 2004, after an evidentiary hearing, the trial court denied the Post-Conviction Petition. (R. Mot. Ex. F, C7). Clifton appealed, and the Illinois Appellate Court affirmed the denial of Clifton's Post-Conviction Petition on June 30, 2006. (R. Mot. Ex. G, 1). Clifton then filed a PLA to the Illinois Supreme Court relating to his Post-Conviction Petition, which the Illinois Supreme Court denied on November 29, 2006. (R. Mot. Ex. H). The record reflects that Clifton did not file a timely petition for writ of certiorari in the United States Supreme Court with respect to his Post-Conviction Petition. (Pet. 2, 31); (R. Mot. Par. 4).

On August 10, 2007, Clifton filed a successive petition for post-conviction relief (Successive Petition) in the Circuit Court of Cook County. The People moved to dismiss the Successive Petition, and the motion to dismiss was granted on April 15, 2010. (R. Mot. Ex. J, C49, C12). On May 14, 2010, Clifton appealed the decision, and on November 18, 2011, the Illinois Appellate Court affirmed. (R. Mot. Ex. K). Clifton did not file a PLA to the Illinois Supreme Court relating to his Successive Petition.

Clifton first filed a habeas petition in this court on August 28, 2008, while Clifton's Successive Petition was pending in the Circuit Court of Cook County. On November 13, 2008, this court dismissed Clifton's habeas petition without prejudice since Clifton had not exhausted all of the remedies available to him at the state court level. On February 24, 2012, Clifton filed an amended habeas petition in this court, which this court dismissed without prejudice since it was not submitted on the forms required under Local Rule 81.3(a) of this court. Subsequently, Clifton filed the instant Petition, and on January 9, 2013, the instant action was reinstated. Clifton alleges in his Petition that he received ineffective assistance of trial counsel, that his due process rights were violated, that the evidence against him was insufficient to sustain a conviction, that his sentence violates the United States Supreme Court decision in Apprendi, and that "certain void and unconstitutional statutes and laws of Illinois were utilized as charging instruments." (Pet. 60). Respondent now moves to dismiss the Petition.

LEGAL STANDARD

An individual in custody pursuant to state court judgment may seek a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254, which provides the following:

An application for a writ of habeas corpus on behalf of a person in custody pursuant to the judgment of a State court shall not be granted with respect to any claim that was adjudicated on the merits in State court proceedings unless the adjudication of the claim-(1) resulted in a decision that was contrary to, or involved an unreasonable application of, clearly established Federal law, as determined by the Supreme Court of the United States; or (2) resulted in a decision that was based on an unreasonable determination of the facts in light of the evidence presented in the State court proceeding.

28 U.S.C. § 2254(d). The decision made by a state court is deemed to be contrary to clearly established federal law "if the state court applies a rule different from the governing law set forth in [Supreme Court] cases, or if it decides a case differently than [the Supreme Court has] done on a set of materially indistinguishable facts.'" Emerson v. Shaw, 575 F.3d 680, 684 (7th Cir. 2009)(quoting Bell v. Cone, 535 U.S. 685, 694 (2002)). The decision by a state court is deemed to involve an unreasonable application of clearly established federal law "if the state court correctly identifies the governing legal principle from [Supreme Court] decisions but unreasonably applies it to the facts of the particular case.'" Emerson, 575 F.3d at 684 (quoting Bell, 535 U.S. at 694).

DISCUSSION

I. Timeliness of Petition

Respondent argues that the instant Petition should be dismissed as untimely based on the statute of limitations for filing a habeas ...


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