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Pattison v. Thompson

United States District Court, Seventh Circuit

June 18, 2013



DAVID R. HERNDON, Chief District Judge.

I. Introduction

On May 10, 2006, Petitioner pled guilty to one count of predatory criminal sexual assault in the Circuit Court of White County. Petitioner was sentenced to twenty years and is currently serving her term at Lincoln Correctional Center. On August 16, 2010, Petitioner filed the instant petition for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. She raised four different grounds for relief: 1) prior to entering a guilty plea, she was not told that any sentences could potentially run concurrently; 2) the White County State's Attorney withheld evidence that would have exonerated petitioner; 3) no child pornography was found on her computer; and 4) the statements of potential witnesses were hearsay. A response is on file, with supporting exhibits (Doc. 10), and Petitioner has filed her reply (Doc. 18). For the following reasons, Petitioner Debra Sue Patterson's Petition for Habeas Corpus (Doc. 1) is DENIED.

II. Factual & Procedural Background

The facts determined by a state court are presumed to be correct in the absence of clear and convincing evidence to the contrary. 28 U.S.C. § 2254(e); Badelle v. Correll, 452 F.3d 648, 659 (7th Cir. 2006). The following factual background relating to the instant petition has been taken from the Rule 23 unpublished decision rendered by the Illinois Fifth District Appellate Court on July 12, 2007 (Case No. 5-06-0668) (Doc. 10-4) upholding the trial court's denial of Petitioner's request to withdraw her guilty plea; from the appellate court's Rule 23 order rendered on May 04, 2009 (Case No. 05-CF-104) (Doc. 10-6) affirming the trial court's finding that Petitioner's motion for post-conviction relief was patently frivolous; and from the appellate court's Rule 23 Order of March 26, 2010 denying Petitioner's appeal requesting post-conviction relief based on new evidence (Case No. 05-CF 104)) (Doc. 10-9).

A. Guilty Plea & Sentencing

Petitioner pled guilty in the circuit court of White County to one count of predatory criminal sexual assault of a child in violation of section 12-14.1(a)(1) of the Illinois Criminal Code of 1961. (Doc. 10-12, p. 114). The charge was based on Petitioner's digital penetration of her eight-month-old granddaughter's vagina. (Doc. 10-12, p. 6). In exchange for pleading guilty, prosecutors agreed to drop one count of predatory criminal sexual assault of a child predicated on licking N.J.'s rectum, one count of aggravated criminal sexual abuse based on kissing and licking the infant's vaginal area, and one count of child pornography based on her knowing depiction of these acts on a computer equipped with a Webcam. (Doc. 10-12, p. 6). The prosecutor also agreed to recommend a sentence of twenty (20) years plus three (3) years supervised release. (Doc. 10-12, p. 115).

Prior to entering her plea, Petitioner was examined by psychologist Michael E. Althoff, Ph.D. (Doc. 10-12, pp. 97-105). He found that Petitioner was oriented to her surroundings, not suffering from delusions, and had normal thought patterns. (Doc. 10-12, pp. 97-105). He did not find any significant defect in her reasoning or understanding, and found that she could assist her own legal defense. (Doc. 10-12, pp. 97-105). Although Petitioner was taking anti-anxiety medication and suffered from anxiety and depression, Dr. Althoff found that her pathology would not interfere with her competency. (Doc. 10-12, pp. 97-105).

Additionally, the judge found there was a factual basis for Petitioner's plea. (Doc. 10-4, pp. 3-4; Doc. 10-13, p. 177). Specifically, the judge noted that police had found a chat log in which Petitioner discussed her acts of sexual abuse with N.J. (Doc. 10-4, pp. 3-4; Doc. 10-13, pp. 176-77). Petitioner also confessed to the crimes on video, as did her husband, Alfred T. Pattison. (Doc. 10-4, pp. 3-4; Doc. 10-13, pp. 176-77). Finally Dr. Deanna St. Germain, D.O. examined the victim and found evidence of vaginal penetration. (Doc. 10-4, p. 4; Doc. 10-13, pp. 176-77).

Ultimately, the circuit court judge found that Petitioner had freely made a knowing and voluntary plea with a factual basis. (Doc. 10-4, p. 4; Doc. 10-13, p. 177). He then sentenced Petitioner in accordance with the terms from her deal. (Doc. 10-4, p. 4; Doc. 10-13, p. 178). Approximately three weeks later, Petitioner moved the court through counsel to withdraw her plea. (Doc. 10-4, p. 4). Petitioner alleged that her plea was made while she was under stress, anxiety, depression, and coercion from her parents. (Doc. 10-4, p. 4). However, Petitioner admitted at the hearing that she had not been threatened, and was fully advised of her rights and the potential legal consequences of making a plea. (Doc. 10-4, p. 4-5). The judge found her motion reflected merely a change of heart and declined to grant it. (Doc. 10-4, p. 5).

B. Direct Appeal

On direct appeal, Petitioner argued that the trial court erred in refusing to withdraw her guilty plea because the record reflected that Petitioner had been: 1) under the influence of drugs to treat her confusion, depression, and anxiety; 2) unfamiliar with criminal court proceedings; 3) coerced by her parents into pleading guilty; and 4) Petitioner claimed she was innocent. (Doc. 10-1, p. 2). The appellate court affirmed the trial court decision. (Doc. 10-4). Petitioner failed to appeal to the Illinois Supreme Court, and admits as much in her Petition for habeas relief. (Doc. 1, p. 5).

C. Petition for State Postconviction Relief

Petitioner filed a pro se petition for postconviction relief (PCR) in February 2008. She alleged that her due process rights were violated under the 5th and 14th Amendments; her right to "have compulsory process to obtain witnesses" was violated under the 6th Amendment; that her constitutional rights under the 8th Amendment were violated because her bail was set at $300, 000; and further alleged an unspecified violation of the 4th Amendment's requirement of probable cause. Her counsel at that time filed a Motion to Withdraw, which argued that Petitioner's appeal had no merit. (Doc. 10-5). Petitioner did not include any facts other than these allegations and the circuit court ...

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