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Lyles v. Locke

United States District Court, Seventh Circuit

December 27, 2013

FREDERICKA LYLES, Petitioner,
v.
ANGELA LOCKE, Respondent.

MEMORANDUM and ORDER

DAVID R. HERNDON, Chief District Judge.

A St. Clair County, Illinois, jury convicted Fredericka Lyles of drug-induced homicide and unlawful delivery of a controlled substance in 2009. She was sentenced to prison terms of 25 and 6 years, to be served consecutively. On preliminary review, the Court construed her amended petition for habeas relief pursuant to 28 U.S.C. ยง2254 (Doc. 9) as raising the following grounds:

1) Ineffective assistance of counsel premised upon the errors asserted in Grounds 2 and 3 below;
2) Denial of due process based on Lyles being found fit for trial despite having an IQ below 75; and
3) Denial of due process based on the trial judge's questioning of a potential witness in the presence of the jury.

I. Relevant Facts

As described by the Appellate Court, Fifth District, on petitioner's direct appeal, the evidence at trial established that petitioner forced four children to take morphine pills. The children, who were her nieces and nephews, were all under the age of ten. One child died. (Doc. 18, Ex. A). The issues raised in petitioner's direct appeal do not correspond to any of the grounds raised in her habeas petition.

Petitioner filed a state postconviction petition in which she raised issues relevant to her habeas petition:

1) Petitioner was unfit to stand trial; and
2) Trial counsel was ineffective for failing to object to further continuances because there was doubt about petitioner's fitness, and for failing to object when the trial judge questioned potential witnesses (two of the victims) for competency in front of the jury.

Doc. 18, Ex. G, pp. 221-246.

On July 30, 2012, the postconviction petition was dismissed by the Circuit Court of St. Clair County for failure to raise the gist of a constitutional issue. Ex. G, p. 246. On August 15, 2012, the Appellate Court informed Lyles that she had improperly filed her pro se notice of appeal in the Appellate Court, rather than in the Circuit Court. The order informed Lyles that her notice of appeal had to be filed in the Circuit Court within 30 days of the entry of final judgment. She was given 7 days to show cause why the improperly filed notice of appeal should not be stricken. Ex. G, p. 251. Lyles asked for, and was granted, additional time. Ex. G, pp. 253-254. Lyles did not file anything further with the Appellate Court. On September 20, 2012, the Appellate Court dismissed her appeal for lack of jurisdiction pursuant to Illinois Supreme Court Rule 606(b). Ex. G, p. 255. Respondent represents to the Court that petitioner did not file a PLA. Doc. 17, p. 4.

II. Applicable Legal Standards

1. Law Applicable to ...


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