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Crutchfield v. Atchison

United States District Court, Seventh Circuit

August 7, 2013

STEVEN M. CRUTCHFIELD, Plaintiff,
v.
MICHAEL P. ATCHISON[1], Defendant.

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

HERNDON, Chief Judge.

I. Introduction

Before the Court is Respondent’s Motion to Dismiss Petitioner’s Habeas Corpus Petition without Prejudice (Doc. 20). Respondent seeks dismissal of Petitioner’s Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus because Petitioner failed to exhaust the available state collateral process. The District Court GRANT’S Respondent’s Motion to Dismiss (Doc. 20) and DISMISS without prejudice Petitioner’s claim against Respondent.

II. Factual Background

Now pending before the Court is petitioner’s Habeas Corpus petition, brought pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254, which concerns the Illinois state criminal trial in which he was found guilty of two counts of first-degree murder (Doc. 1 p. 2). Petitioner is currently incarcerated at Menard Correctional Facility (Doc. 1 p. 1). On, September 3, 2002, a jury in Illinois’ Circuit Court of the First Judicial District found petitioner guilty of two counts of first degree murder (Doc. 1 p. 2). Following the verdict, petitioner appealed to the Appellate Court for the Fifth Judicial District of Illinois (Doc. 1 p. 3). At the Appellate Court, petitioner argued four claims: (1) petitioner was denied due process because he was required to wear a stun belt during his trial; (2) the trial court erred in prohibiting petitioner from presenting evidence that supported his defense of sudden and intense passion; (3) the trial court erred in allowing evidence of other crimes to be presented in court; and (4) petitioner’s natural-life sentence violated double jeopardy and ex-post facto laws (Id.). On October 19, 2004, the Appellate Court affirmed the trial court’s decision (Id.).

Following the Appellate Court’s ruling, petitioner filed a petition for leave to appeal (PLA) to the Illinois Supreme Court. Petitioner raised two claims in his PLA: (1) petitioner was denied a fair trial because he was forced to wear a stun belt during the trial; and (2) the statute under which petitioner was sentenced constituted an ex post facto law (Doc. 20-1 pp. 23-24). On January 26, 2005, the Illinois Supreme Court denied petitioner’s PLA (Doc. 20-1 p. 65). On March 1, 2005, the Illinois Supreme Court granted petitioner leave to file a motion to reconsider the PLA (Doc. 20-1 p. 65). The Illinois Supreme Court denied petitioner’s second PLA on September 27, 2006 (Doc. 20-1 p. 67).

After petitioner’s PLA was denied by the Illinois Supreme Court, petitioner filed a petition for writ of certiorari with the United States Supreme Court (Doc. 20 p. 3). His petition for writ of certiorari was denied on February 20, 2007 (Doc. 1 p. 4). He then petitioned the Supreme Court for a rehearing, but the petition was denied on May 14, 2007 (Doc. 20 p. 3; Doc. 1 p. 4).

On August 7, 2007, petitioner filed a petition for post-conviction proceedings, and two related motions, in the Illinois Circuit Court of the First Judicial District (Doc. 20-1 p. 116). The motions filed by petitioner were a Motion for Recusal or Change of Judge and a Motion for Appointment of Counsel (Id.). The petition was filed pursuant to the Illinois Code of Criminal Procedure of 1963. See 725 ILCS 5/122. Petitioner’s post-conviction arguments included eight claims: (1) the trial court erred in denying petitioner’s request for new counsel; (2) the trial court erred in refusing to give a non-pattern jury instruction; (3) the trial judge mishandled the jury’s request for additional information during deliberation: (4) the trial court abused its discretion in requiring petitioner to wear a stun belt; (5) the trial judge was biased against petitioner; (6) Petitioner’s trial counsel was ineffective; (7) the jury’s verdict was against the manifest weight of the evidence; and (8) Petitioner’s appellate counsel was ineffective (Doc. 20 pp. 3-4).

Judge John Speroni, who was selected to preside over the collateral proceeding, had presided over Petitioner’s criminal trial (Doc. 20-1 p. 1). A hearing was conducted on January 31, 2008, in front of Judge Ronald Eckiss to determine if Judge Speroni should be removed from the case (Doc. 20-1 p. 119). The court denied the motion and Judge Speroni remained on the case (Id.).

Judge Speroni presided over the case from August 8, 2008 until June 2009, when he was moved to another docket section within the circuit court (Doc. 20-1 p. 124). From June 2009 to January 2011, Judge Phillip Palmer presided over the case (Doc. 20-1 pp. 123-28). In January 2011, Judge Speroni resumed presiding over the case (Doc. 20-1 p. 128).

Petitioner’s motion for counsel was granted on August 8, 2007, and Theresa Thien was appointed to represent him (Doc. 20-1 p. 116). On October 1, 2007, Thien filed a motion to withdraw from the case due to a conflict of interest (Doc. 20-1 p. 117). Thien’s motion for removal was granted and she was removed from the case on November 7, 2007 (Doc. 20-1 p. 118). Thien represented petitioner for three months.

On November 7, 2007, Robert Bateson was appointed to petitioner’s case (Doc. 20-1 p. 118). On May 13, 2009, petitioner filed a pro se motion to compel production of a complete work record (Doc. 20-1 pp. 134-38). On May 14, 2009, petitioner’s attorney objected to petitioner’s motion, and the State’s Attorney on the case requested petitioner clarify the role of his appointed counsel (Doc. 20-1 pp. 122, 143-46). On May 15, 2009, Bateson filed a motion to be removed from the case citing irreparable damage to the attorney client relationship (Doc. 20-1 pp. 149-53). The court responded by denying petitioner’s motion because he was represented by appointed counsel (Doc. 20-1 pp.124-25). On June 4, 2009 petitioner filed a response to his attorney’s motion and clarified Bateson’s role by agreeing to have him removed from the case (Doc. 20-1 pp. 123, 154-59). At the same time, petitioner also made a Motion for Appointment of Counsel (Doc. 20-1 pp. 123, 160-62). The circuit court granted Bateson’s motion to withdraw from the case on June 25, 2009 (Doc. 20-1 p. 123). Bateson filed eight continuances while representing petitioner. (Doc. 20 p. 5).

On June 25 2009, Timothy Ting was appointed as petitioner’s counsel (Doc. 20-1 p. 124). On August 13, 2010, the court was notified that Ting no longer worked for the public defender’s office, and Ting was immediately removed from the case (Doc. 20-1 p. 127). Ting agreed to four continuances while representing petitioner (Doc. 20 p. 7).

On October 18, 2010, Andrew Wilson was appointed to petitioner’s case and remains petitioner’s counsel (Doc. 20-1 p. 127). While represented by Wilson, petitioner has been granted fourteen continuances (Doc. 20 p. 7; Doc. 24 p. 3). At this time, petitioner’s post-conviction proceedings have been ongoing for seventy-one months. ...


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