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Knol v. Chandler

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

March 25, 2014

LAMBERT KNOL, R00332 Petitioner,
NEDRA CHANDLER, Warden Respondent.


JAMES F. HOLDERMAN, Chief District Judge.

On July 10, 2013, pro se Petitioner Lambert Knol ("Mr. Knol"), an inmate at Dixon Correctional Center in Dixon, Illinois, filed a "Petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus" in this court. (Dkt. No. 1, "Petition" or "Knol Pet."). Mr. Knol argues that he was unfit to stand trial, incompetent throughout his appeals process, and denied effective assistance of counsel. ( Id. )

On January 13, 2014, the Attorney General of Illinois on behalf of Respondent Warden Nedra Chandler ("Respondent") moved to dismiss the Petition. (Dkt. No. 16, "Mot.") Respondent argues that Mr. Knol's Petition is untimely, his prior state proceedings had no tolling effect, and Mr. Knol is not entitled to equitable tolling.

This court grants Respondent's Motion to Dismiss (Dkt. No. 16) with prejudice due to the untimeliness of Mr. Knol's Petition. The court declines to certify Mr. Knol's Petition for appealability.


In June 2000, following a jury trial in the Circuit Court of Kane County, Mr. Knol was convicted of first degree murder for the 1998 beating death of his wife. (Mot., Ex. A, People v. Knol, No. 02-08-0491, at 1 (Ill.App.2d Dist., Apr. 29, 2010).) In October 2000, Mr. Knol was sentenced to 25 years in prison. ( Id. )

Mr. Knol appealed alleging that there was insufficient evidence to support first degree murder. He argued that his alcohol consumption, coupled with his anti-anxiety and anti-depression medications, prevented him from forming the requisite state of mind, and therefore his conviction should be reduced to manslaughter. (Mot., Ex. B, People v. Knol, No. 2-00-1258, at 11-13 (Ill.App.2d Dist., June 14, 2002).) This argument was rejected, and Mr. Knol's conviction was affirmed. ( Id. ) In January 2004, Mr. Knol sought leave to file a late petition for leave to appeal to the Illinois Supreme Court, and that motion was denied. (Mot., Ex. C., Pet. Br., People v. Knol, No. 2-08-0491, at 4 n.1 (Ill.App.2d Dist., Nov. 23, 2009).)

In October 2004, Mr. Knol filed a pro se post-conviction petition under 725 ILCS 5/122-1, et seq. (Mot., Ex. D, Post-Conv. Pet., People v. Knol, No. 89-CF-2618 (Cir. Ct. Kane Co., Oct. 20, 2004).) The Illinois Circuit Court of Kane County dismissed this petition as untimely in May 2008, and the Illinois Appellate Division affirmed in April 2010. (Mot. Ex. A, People v. Knol, No. 02-08-0491 (Ill.App.2d Dist., Apr. 29, 2010).) The Illinois Supreme Court later denied petitioner's ensuing petition for leave to appeal on September 29, 2010. People v. Knol, 938 N.E.2d 526 (Table) (Ill. 2010).

Over ten years from the final disposition of the appeal of Mr. Knol's original conviction, and nearly three years from the final disposition of Mr. Knol's post-conviction petition, Mr. Knol placed his current 28 U.S.C. § 2254 habeas petition in the mail on July 3, 2013. (Mot. at 2.)

Respondent correctly notes that the statute of limitations for federal habeas corpus petitions may run one year from a judgment becoming "final by the conclusion of direct review or the expiration of the time for seeking such review." ( Id. at 2-3 (citing 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d)(1)(A); Gonzalez v. Thaler, 132 S.Ct. 641, 653-54 (2012)).) According to Respondent, Mr. Knol does not allege any of the intervening events that would extend this one year limit, such as state-created impediments to filing, newly-recognized constitutional rights, or newly-discovered evidence. ( Id. ) Respondent therefore argues the judgment against Mr. Knol became "final" on June 14, 2002, his petition to the Illinois Supreme Court was due 21 days later in July 2002, and thus Mr. Knol's federal § 2254 habeas petition was due one year later in July 2003. (Mot. at 3.)

Respondent then argues that tolling the one year limitations period is inappropriate under 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d)(2). Respondent admits that provision requires the "time during which a properly filed application for State post-conviction... is pending shall not be counted toward any period of limitation". ( Id. ) However, Respondent cites United States Supreme Court precedent for the proposition that Mr. Knol's post-conviction proceedings did not toll the usual one year § 2244(d) limitations period, because these state proceedings were themselves dismissed as untimely. (Mot. at 3-4 (citing Pace v. DiGuglielmo, 544 U.S. 408, 417 (2005).)

Respondent then proceeds to argue that Mr. Knol is not entitled to equitable tolling of the limitations period. According to Respondent, equitable tolling in the case of mental illness is appropriate only if the illness actually prevents a timely filing during the relevant period. (Mot. at 5 (citing United States ex rel. Kennedy v. Page, No. 99-6067, 1999 WL 1044829, at *2 (N.D. Ill. 1999).) Because none of the proffered evidence speaks to Mr. Knol's mental condition the year before July 2003, Respondent argues Mr. Knol has failed to carry this burden. (Mot. at 6-8.) Additionally, Respondent contends Mr. Knol is not entitled to equitable tolling, because he has offered no new, powerful evidence to establish actual innocence. (Mot. at 9 (citing McQuiggin v. Perkins, 133 S.Ct. 1924, 1928, 1931-32 (2013) (actual innocence can serve as gateway to untimely habeas claims).)

In Mr. Knol's "Response and Motion to Deny Respondents Motion to Dismiss" (Dkt. No. 20, at 1, "Response" or "Knol Resp."), Mr. Knol points to several pieces of evidence allegedly speaking to his mental condition: (1) various allegations in the Petition tending to show Mr. Knol's disorientation at the time of his arrest, trial, and currently, (Knol Pet. at 5, ¶¶ 1-3); (2) the allegation in the Petition that a doctor at Mr. Knol's trial testified he had substance persistent amnesia, when Mr. Knol allegedly suffered from Alzheimer's Disease and dementia, ( id. at 5, ¶¶ 4-5); (3) an affidavit from an inmate Daniel Franklin ("Franklin") discussing Mr. Knol's current mental state and relaying hearsay from former (unnamed) cellmates of Mr. ...

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