United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division
SAMUEL DER-YEGHIAYAN, District Judge.
This matter is before the court on Petitioner Paul McLennan's (McLennan) pro se petition for writ of habeas corpus (Petition) brought pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. For the reasons stated below, the Petition is denied.
After a bench trial in Illinois state court, McLennan was convicted of cannabis trafficking and sentenced to 14 years after police found over 5, 000 grams of cannabis hidden in McLennan's motor home (Motor Home). McLennan filed an appeal, and the sentence and conviction were affirmed by the Illinois Appellate Court. McLennan filed a petition for leave to appeal (PLA) with the Illinois Supreme Court, and the PLA was denied on January 26, 2011. On February 18, 2011, McLennan filed a post-conviction petition, which was dismissed. McLennan appealed the post-conviction petition ruling, and the trial court's dismissal was affirmed. The record does not reflect that McLennan filed a PLA on his post-conviction. On August 19, 2013, McLennan filed a state habeas corpus petition, which was denied by the state court. McLennan appealed that ruling and that appeal remains pending. On February 18, 2014, McLennan filed the Petition in the instant action.
An individual in custody pursuant to state court judgment may seek a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254, which provides the following:
An application for a writ of habeas corpus on behalf of a person in custody pursuant to the judgment of a State court shall not be granted with respect to any claim that was adjudicated on the merits in State court proceedings unless the adjudication of the claim-(1) resulted in a decision that was contrary to, or involved an unreasonable application of, clearly established Federal law, as determined by the Supreme Court of the United States; or (2) resulted in a decision that was based on an unreasonable determination of the facts in light of the evidence presented in the State court proceeding.
28 U.S.C. § 2254(d). The decision made by a state court is deemed to be contrary to clearly established federal law "if the state court applies a rule different from the governing law set forth in [Supreme Court] cases, or if it decides a case differently than [the Supreme Court has] done on a set of materially indistinguishable facts.'" Emerson v. Shaw, 575 F.3d 680, 684 (7th Cir. 2009)(quoting Bell v. Cone, 535 U.S. 685, 694 (2002)). The decision by a state court is deemed to involve an unreasonable application of clearly established federal law "if the state court correctly identifies the governing legal principle from [Supreme Court] decisions but unreasonably applies it to the facts of the particular case.'" Emerson, 575 F.3d at 684 (quoting Bell, 535 U.S. at 694).
This court has liberally construed McLennan's pro se filings. See Perruquet v. Briley, 390 F.3d 505, 512 (7th Cir. 2004)(stating that "[a]s [the plaintiff] was without counsel in the district court, his habeas petition [wa]s entitled to a liberal construction"); Greer v. Board of Educ. of City of Chicago, Ill., 267 F.3d 723, 727 (7th Cir. 2001)(indicating that a court should "liberally construe the pleadings of individuals who proceed pro se "). McLennan asserts in the Petition: (1) that the State did not prove McLennan guilty beyond a reasonable doubt (Claim 1), (2) that the traffic stop of the Motor Home violated McLennan's Fourth Amendment rights (Claim 2), that the search stop of the Motor Home violated McLennan's Fourth Amendment rights (Claim 3), that the detention of McLennan after the traffic stop violated McLennan's Fourth Amendment rights (Claim 4), and that McLennan's trial counsel was ineffective because he did not challenge certain inconsistencies or call Ms. Nikanni Andrews (Andrews) as a witness (Claim 5).
I. Fourth Amendment Claims
Respondent argues that McLennan's claims which allege violations of McLennan's Fourth Amendment rights (Claims 2, 3, and 4) are barred. When a state court system has "provided an opportunity for a full and fair litigation of a Fourth Amendment claim, a state prisoner cannot be granted habeas relief on the ground that evidence obtained through an unconstitutional search and seizure was introduced at his trial." Rann v. Atchison, 689 F.3d 832, 836 n.1 (7th Cir. 2012)(citing Stone v. Powell, 428 U.S. 465 (1976)); see also Cabrera v. Hinsley, 324 F.3d 527, 532 (7th Cir. 2003)(stating that "[i]n short, full and fair' guarantees the right to present one's case, but it does not guarantee a correct result"); Ben-Yisrayl v. Buss, 540 F.3d 542, 552 (7th Cir. 2008)(stating that on federal habeas review "[a]s a general principle, absent a subversion of the hearing process, [the Court] will not examine whether the state courts made the right decision"); Watson v. Hulick, 481 F.3d 537, 541-42 (7th Cir. 2007)(stating that "a petitioner cannot obtain collateral relief on a Fourth Amendment claim unless the state courts deprived him of a full and fair opportunity to litigate the claim").
In the instant action, the record shows that McLennan was able to file a motion to suppress the evidence obtained from the Motor Home before the trial in his case. McLennan was afforded an evidentiary hearing, and allowed to present evidence and his Fourth Amendment arguments. (R Ex. A 5). The record also shows that after McLennan became dissatisfied with his appointed counsel, McLennan was allowed to directly present arguments at the suppression hearing pro se with standby counsel. (R Ex. A 7). The record also shows that after the denial of the motion to suppress, McLennan retained counsel and that such counsel filed a motion to reconsider the denial of the motion to suppress. (R Ex. A 7). After the denial of the motion to reconsider, McLennan then retained new counsel and McLennan filed yet another motion to reconsider, which was also denied. (R Ex. A 8). The record shows that McLennan was then able to seek a review of his Fourth Amendment arguments on direct appeal in the state system and that such arguments were rejected by the Illinois Appellate Court. (R Ex. A); (R Ex. G). The record reflects that McLennan informed the state courts of the factual basis for his Fourth Amendment claims and did so during the pretrial, trial, and post-trial stages ...