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United States Ex Rel. Williams v. Lemke

United States District Court, Seventh Circuit

December 30, 2013

United States of America, ex rel. TONY WILLIAMS, Petitioner,
MICHAEL LEMKE, Warden, Stateville Correctional Center, Respondent.



Before the Court is Petitioner Tony Williams' Application for a Writ of Habeas Corpus. For the reasons stated herein, the Court denies the Petition and denies a Certificate of Appealability.


Petitioner Tony Williams ("Petitioner") is incarcerated by the State of Illinois, where he is in the custody of Warden Michael Lemke. His incarceration stems from a robbery and murder for which he was convicted in 2001.

The evidence at trial established the following. On the morning of December 22, 1998, Petitioner and his accomplices, Jerry and Roosevelt Clay, entered a Chicago currency exchange, completed small transactions, and stepped outside. A few minutes later, armored-truck driver Terry Madden ("Madden") and his partner arrived at the currency exchange. Madden exited the truck carrying a "cold bag" that contained keys, documents, and cash. Petitioner or one of his accomplices shot Madden in the forehead at point blank range, grabbed the bag, and ran to a waiting car. Madden died within minutes.

When police arrived, they found a change purse containing documents belonging to Jerry Clay, as well as a piece of paper with a phone number written on it. Based on the papers, police began monitoring activity around a house on North Willard Court in Chicago. Around 1:00 p.m. the day of the crime, police saw Jerry Clay enter the house. Soon after, police observed Roosevelt Clay emerge from the house and enter a car. Jerry Clay reemerged from the house and conversed with the occupants of the car that Roosevelt Clay had entered. It was not long before police arrested both Clays, at which point they found $8, 100 in cash sewn into the lining of Roosevelt Clay's jacket.

Police recovered the stolen cold bag, and Petitioner's fingerprints were found on the bag's contents. During a telephone call, Petitioner told his ex-girlfriend, Patrice Smith, that he was involved in the armed robbery but did not kill anyone. Police traced the call to Grand Rapids, Michigan; shortly thereafter, authorities met Petitioner in Grand Rapids, arrested him, and gave him Miranda warnings.

When asked about his involvement in the crime, Petitioner changed his story several times. First, he denied being in Chicago. But when confronted with fingerprint evidence on the cold bag, he explained that he had visited his friend's apartment on the day of the murder only to find Jerry Clay, who gave Petitioner a backpack full of documents and instructed him to get rid of it. When the detective expressed disbelief in that story, Petitioner stated that he was in the getaway car against his will during the crime: he claimed that he was just getting a ride home from the Clays when they stopped at the currency exchange and committed the crimes.

A few hours later, a Cook County Assistant State's Attorney arrived to take Petitioner's statement in writing. He gave Petitioner another round of Miranda warnings, and Petitioner agreed to provide a written statement. In it, Petitioner asserted that he participated in the crime as a lookout, admitting that he knew Jerry Clay intended to rob the armored truck and was carrying a gun. That Assistant State's Attorney testified that he had asked Petitioner how he had been treated by the detectives, and Petitioner responded "all good." Ex. N at 1124.

Before trial, Petitioner's counsel moved to suppress the confession, alleging that Petitioner had been physically abused by police during the questioning. Counsel later withdrew that motion because he believed, based on copious contradictory evidence in the record (including the testimony that the detectives' treatment of Petitioner was "all good"), that the motion offered false allegations. In closing arguments, counsel emphasized the State's obligation to prove Petitioner guilty beyond a reasonable doubt and the inability of certain witnesses to identify Petitioner as one of Madden's killers. The jury found Petitioner guilty of one count of first degree murder and one count of armed robbery.

After a bit of jockeying in the state courts - Petitioner twice appealed his sentence and twice earned a resentencing from the appellate court - Petitioner was sentenced to consecutive prison terms of fifty years for murder and six years for armed robbery. Petitioner's third trip to the appellate court was unsuccessful, and Petitioner did not file a Petition for Leave to Appeal ("PLA") with the Illinois Supreme Court.

Petitioner brought an action under the Illinois Post-Conviction Hearing Act, 725 Ill. Comp. Stat. 5/122-1 et seq., raising numerous claims. The postconviction trial court appointed counsel for Petitioner but ultimately dismissed his Petition. On appeal, Petitioner's appointed counsel filed a brief arguing only that trial counsel was ineffective for failing to pursue the motion to suppress Petitioner's statement and failing to call Roosevelt Clay (who, in a signed affidavit dated well after Petitioner's trial ended, swears that Petitioner was not involved in the crime). Ex. E at 16-17. Unsatisfied with this appellate strategy, Petitioner insisted that his appointed counsel raise more issues. Counsel refused, citing his obligation not to raise frivolous arguments. Petitioner then sought leave to proceed pro se and submitted a pro se supplemental brief instanter that raised the arguments that counsel omitted. Petitioner indicated that he wished to proceed on both the brief that counsel filed and the supplemental brief. Ex. Z at 2. The appellate court denied leave to proceed pro se, rejected the supplemental brief, and addressed on the merits the two claims from counsel's brief. Exs. BB, CC, E.

Petitioner filed a PLA, which the Illinois Supreme Court denied. Petitioner then brought this Petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus, and raises five grounds for relief: (1) ineffective assistance of trial counsel; (2) ineffective assistance of counsel on direct appeal; (3) ineffective assistance of postconviction appellate counsel; (4) the trial court's admission of the testimony of Patrice Smith; and (5) the postconviction appellate court's denial of Petitioner's request to file a supplemental petition.


A. Procedural ...

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