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Johnson v. Bazile

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

April 8, 2014

KEVIN JOHNSON, Petitioner,
v.
ANITA BAZILE, Respondent.

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

DAVID R. HERNDON, Chief District Judge.

Petitioner Kevin Johnson was found not guilty by reason of insanity of first degree murder in the Circuit Court of St. Clair County, Illinois. He was then involuntarily committed to the custody of the Illinois Department of Human Services for inpatient mental health services, and confined at the Alton Mental Health Center where he remains today.

This matter is currently before the Court on Johnson's petition for writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. ยง 2254 (Doc. 1). Johnson is challenging the constitutionality of various aspects of his criminal trial and the finding of not guilty by reason of insanity, as well as the post-trial process and his civil commitment. For the reasons state below, Johnson's habeas petition is DENIED and the case is DISMISSED with prejudice.

I. BACKGROUND

A. Relevant Factual History

In December 2002, Kevin Johnson was charged with first degree murder in the Circuit Court of St. Clair County, Illinois for stabbing Henry Coleman, Jr. to death ( See Doc. 26-2). Due to ongoing concerns regarding Johnson's mental fitness, his case did not proceed to trial until June 2006 ( See Doc. 26-2). On June 5, 2006, following a stipulated bench trial, Johnson was found not guilty by reason of insanity ("NGRI") (Doc. 26-3). Pursuant to state law, Johnson was remanded to the Illinois Department of Human Services ("DHS") for an evaluation to determine if he needed mental health services.

On October 6, 2006, after receiving the evaluation from DHS, the court held a hearing and found that Johnson was currently in need of inpatient mental health services (Doc. 26-4). He was involuntarily committed to the custody of DHS and confined at the Alton Mental Health Center. The maximum length of time that Johnson can be involuntarily committed is 60 years ( see Doc. 26-1 p. 38), and he must be released by December 13, 2062 (Doc. 26-15).

B. Procedural History

On October 20, 2006, Johnson filed a pro se notice of appeal indicating only that he was appealing "not guilty by reason of insanity" (Doc. 26-5). There is no indication that Johnson sought to appeal the original commitment order. An attorney was appointed to represent Johnson and moved to voluntarily dismiss the appeal (Doc. 26-6). Johnson's attorney stated that under Illinois law, as interpreted by the Illinois Supreme Court in People v. Harrison, 877 N.E.2d 432 (Ill. 2007), the NGRI finding was equivalent to an acquittal and therefore was not subject to appellate review (Doc. 26-6). On January 31, 2008, the Illinois Appellate Court granted the motion and dismissed Johnson's appeal (Doc. 26-7).

In April 2008, Johnson filed a pro se federal habeas petition alleging that his acquittal violated the Constitution because there was insufficient evidence to establish his guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Johnson v. Shobe, Case No. 08-cv-304-JPG (S.D. Ill.) The petition was dismissed because Johnson had not exhausted his claim in state court. Id. at Doc. 31, Doc. 33.

In May 2009, Johnson filed a pro se postconviction petition in St. Clair County Court (Doc. 26-8). He made several claims regarding the underlying NGRI determination and several claims regarding the post-trial civil commitment process. Before the Court ruled on his postconviction petition, Johnson filed a pro se "petition for judicial review" containing allegations similar to those in his postconviction petition (Doc. 26-12; s ee Doc. 2-3).

On January 20, 2010, the trial court dismissed Johnson's postconviction petition finding that Johnson lacked standing under the Illinois Post-Conviction Act to bring a postconviction petition because he was not convicted and was not in the custody of the Department of Corrections (Doc. 2-2). Johnson's pro se "petition for judicial review" was then denied on March 9, 2010 because the trial court found that he was simply rearguing issues that had already been ruled on (Doc. 2-3; Doc. 26-13).

With the assistance of counsel, Johnson appealed the denial of his postconviction petition (Doc. 26-9). However, his attorney later moved to voluntarily dismiss the appeal (Doc. 26-10). The Illinois Appellate Court granted the motion and dismissed Johnson's appeal on April 6, 2011 (Doc. 26-11).

Johnson has also filed at least two petitions pursuant to 730 ILL. COMP. STAT. 5/5-2-4(e) seeking a review of his treatment plan, a transfer to non-secure setting, discharge, or conditional release. The trial court denied his petitions on March 3, 2010 and April 15, 2011, respectively (Doc. 2-4; Doc. ...


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