United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
MATTHEW F. KENNELLY, District Judge.
In 2010, following a bench trial, an Illinois judge convicted Detertoring Sanders on a charge under Illinois's armed habitual criminal statute and sentenced him to ten years in prison. Sanders appealed, arguing that the evidence used against him at trial was obtained as the result of an illegal traffic stop. The Illinois Appellate Court affirmed the conviction and sentence, and the Illinois Supreme Court denied Sanders's petition for leave to appeal. Sanders then filed a pro se petition for post-conviction relief in state court, alleging among other things that the state had destroyed evidence favorable to him in violation of his due process rights. The circuit court summarily dismissed the petition; the appellate court affirmed; and the Illinois Supreme Court denied Sanders's petition for leave to appeal.
On February 27, 2014, Sanders filed a pro se petition for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. In the petition, Sanders alleges that the state violated his due process right to a fair trial by destroying evidence that would have been favorable to him. For the following reasons, the Court denies Sanders's petition.
A. State court proceedings
Sanders was arrested on the evening October 5, 2008 and was charged under the armed habitual criminal statute, which imposes enhanced penalties for possession of a firearm by persons who have committed certain types of felonies. See 720 ILCS 5/24-1.7. Sanders filed a motion to quash arrest and suppress evidence, arguing that the traffic stop was unjustified. As indicated earlier, the trial court denied the motion.
The Court summarizes the evidence introduced at the hearing on Sanders's motion to quash arrest and suppress evidence in order to provide background for consideration of Sanders's habeas corpus petition. Officer John Dolan testified that a woman flagged him down while he was on patrol in the vicinity of Normal Avenue and 79th Street in Chicago. He had never met the woman before, and described her as black, about five feet five inches tall, wearing black clothes and "heavy set." Officer Dolan spoke with the unidentified woman for approximately fifteen seconds and the woman remains unidentified. The woman told Officer Dolan that she had seen a short black man, aged 30 to 35 years old, wearing a red coat and blue pants, put a machine gun into the backseat of a gold or brown Chrysler. She said that the Chrysler had license plate number 1739050 and that it had traveled north on Halsted Street.
Officer Dolan radioed the information from the tip to Officers John Wagner and Triantafillo, who were nearby. Two or three minutes later, Officer Dolan saw a Chrysler, driven by Sanders, stopped at a light at the intersection of 74th and Halsted. Officers Dolan and Wagner placed their vehicles in the front and back of the Chrysler and directed Sanders to exit the car. As Sanders exited the car, Officer Wagner yelled "gun, " and Officer Triantafillo recovered a machine gun from the car. A large black "AR150-type" machine gun with a scope, an infrared laser, and a magazine containing ten rounds was recovered from a car. A bag recovered from the car contained two additional magazines.
Sanders was taken into custody and, during a subsequent conversation, told Officer Wagner that Clifton "Flex" Hall had paid him fifteen dollars to drive the Chrysler from one location to another. The Chrysler was registered to Hall.
As indicated earlier, the trial court denied the motion to quash arrest and suppress evidence. After a bench trial, the judge found Sanders guilty as charged under the armed habitual criminal statute. The judge imposed a ten year prison term.
On appeal, Sanders argued that the trial court erred in denying his motion to quash arrest and suppress evidence. He argued that the tip of an anonymous woman was not sufficient to give rise to the reasonable suspicion needed to justify the traffic stop. The Illinois Appellate Court rejected this contention and affirmed the conviction.
Sanders filed a pro se petition for post-conviction relief. He asserted seven claims, only one of which is repeated in his federal habeas corpus petition. In that claim, Sanders alleged that the state had violated his due process rights by allowing the destruction of video surveillance recordings taken in the area of 79th and Halsted and 79th and Vincennes on October 5, 2008, the date of his arrest. Sanders contends that when he tried to obtain the video footage on September 9, 2009, he was informed that it no longer existed. Attached to Sanders's petition is a letter from the Chicago Police Department's Office of Legal Affairs, stating that under Chicago Police Department Special Order 05-12, surveillance footage from Police Observation Devices (PODs) is retained for no more than fifteen days in the absence of a subpoena or court order for the footage. Sanders was indicted twenty-one days after his arrest, so this video footage had already been destroyed by the time of his indictment.
The circuit court summarily dismissed Sanders's petition for post-conviction relief, ruling that Sanders had not shown that the destruction of the video footage was done in bad faith. Sanders filed a notice of appeal, and the Office of the State Appellate Defender was appointed to represent him on appeal. The State Appellate Defender filed a motion for leave to withdraw, asserting that an appeal would be without arguable merit. The Illinois Appellate Court granted the motion to withdraw and affirmed the circuit court's dismissal of the petition.
Sanders also filed a pro se petition for relief from judgment pursuant to 735 ILCS 5/2-1401. This petition did not raise any claims that are repeated in Sanders's federal habeas corpus petition. The state trial court denied the petition on February 5, 2013, ...