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United States ex rel. Freeman v. Harrington

United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division

March 12, 2014

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA ex rel. GEOFFREY W. FREEMAN, Petitioner,
v.
RICK HARRINGTON, Warden, Respondent

Geoffrey W Freeman, Petitioner, Pro se, Menard, IL.

For Roger Cowan, Respondent: Leah M Bendik, LEAD ATTORNEY, Chief of Criminal Appeals, Illinois Attorney General's Office, Chicago, IL.

Page 778

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Ruben Castillo, Chief United States District Judge.

Illinois prisoner Geoffrey W. Freeman (" Petitioner" ) is serving a natural life sentence for first degree murder and armed robbery. On January 29, 2013, he filed an amended pro se petition for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254 (" Petition" ). Presently before the Court is Respondent's motion to dismiss the Petition for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction because it is an unauthorized second or successive petition pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2244(b). For the reasons set forth below, the Court grants Respondent's motion to dismiss and declines to issue a certificate of appealability.

BACKGROUND

Following a jury trial in the Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois, on February 6, 1984, Petitioner was found guilty of three counts of first degree murder and one count of armed robbery. (R. 26-1, Ex. A, Pet'r's Docket Sheet at 5.) On March 9, 1984, the trial court sentenced Petitioner to natural life imprisonment for the murder charge. ( Id. at 6.) Petitioner is currently in the custody of Rick Harrington, the warden of Menard Correctional Center in Menard, Illinois.[1]

I. Direct appeal

Following his conviction, Petitioner appealed to the Illinois Appellate Court for the First District, asserting 15 different grounds for relief. People v. Freeman, 162 Ill.App.3d 1080, 516 N.E.2d 440, 442, 114 Ill.Dec. 285 (Ill.App.Ct. 1st Dist. 1987). On October 21, 1987, the appellate court rejected all of Petitioner's arguments except one--the court held that because Petitioner had demonstrated that the prosecution used 13 of its 18 peremptory challenges to exclude prospective African American jurors, he had established a prima facie case of purposeful discrimination under Batson v. Kentucky, 476 U.S. 79, 106 S.Ct. 1712, 90 L.Ed.2d 69 (1986). Id. at 447-49. The appellate court thus remanded the case to the Circuit Court of Cook County for a Batson hearing to determine whether the prosecution could present " a neutral explanation for the exercise of its peremptory challenges excluding the black prospective jurors." Id. at 449. On August 25, 1989, the trial court found that the prosecution provided racially neutral explanations for the exclusions of the prospective African American jurors, and it denied Petitioner's motion for a new trial. See People v. Freeman, 220 Ill.App.3d 825, 581 N.E.2d 293, 294, 163 Ill.Dec. 342 (Ill.App.Ct. 1st Dist. 1991) (explaining the decision below). Petitioner once again appealed, and on October 9, 1991, the Illinois Appellate Court for the First District, unable to determine whether the hearing judge appropriately weighed the evidence in determining whether there was a Batson violation, remanded

Page 779

the case for a new Batson hearing and for entry of a sentence on Petitioner's armed robbery conviction. Id. at 296-98. On May 24, 1993, the trial court again determined that no Batson violation had occurred, and it denied Petitioner's motion for a new trial and entered a 25-year sentence for his armed robbery charge. (R. 26-1, Ex. A, Pet'r's Docket Sheet at 10.) Petitioner filed a third appeal, and on December 13, 1995, the Illinois Appellate Court for the First District affirmed the trial court's holding. (R. 26-1, Ex. F, Order on Direct Appeal (Third) at 2.) Petitioner filed a petition for leave to appeal to the Illinois Supreme Court, which was denied on June 5, 1996. (R. 26-1, Ex. G, Order Denying PLA.)

On December 27, 1996, Petitioner moved the Illinois Appellate Court for the First District for leave to file a late notice of appeal, arguing that he had been improperly sentenced on the armed robbery charge. See United States ex rel. Freeman v. Page, No. 97 C 4705, 1998 WL 171822, at *1 (N.D. Ill. Apr. 10, 1998) (describing the procedural history of the case). On January 23, 1997, the appellate court denied Petitioner's request for leave to file the late appeal. (R. 26-1, Ex. H, Order Denying Leave to File at 1.) Petitioner filed a second petition for leave to appeal to the Illinois Supreme Court, which was denied on June 4, 1997. (R. 26-1, Ex. I, Order Denying Second PLA.)

II. Post-conviction relief in state court

On July 17, 1984, Petitioner filed a pro se petition for post-conviction relief in the Circuit Court of Cook County. See People v. Freeman, 2011 IL App. (1st) 100460-U, 2011 WL 10069097, at *1 (2011) (describing the procedural history of the case). On Petitioner's motion, the court placed his petition in abeyance pending the resolution of his contemporaneously filed direct appeal. Id.

On July 22, 1998, Petitioner received a letter from a paralegal in the Cook County Public Defender's Office notifying him that the office had " motioned up" his post-conviction petition. Id. Petitioner was not assigned an attorney from that office, however, until October 6, 1999. (R. 16, Ex. A, Letter From Assistant Public Defender at 10.) Acting pro se because he had no confidence in the Public Defender's Office, Petitioner filed an amended post-conviction petition on November 6, 1998; two supplemental petitions in December 1998 and April 1999; an ...


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