United States District Court, S.D. Illinois
CHARLIE EASTLAND, No. a01258 Petitioner,
WARDEN SPILLER, Respondent.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
DAVID R. HERNDON, District Judge.
Petitioner Charlie Eastland is currently incarcerated in Pinckneyville Correctional Center. Eastland has filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254, seeking to upset his 1988 Cook County, Illinois, convictions for rape, deviate sexual conduct and aggravated kidnapping, and the resulting 75-year term of imprisonment. See People v. Eastland, 628 N.E.2d 1006 (Ill.App. 1st Dist. 1993).
Eastland argues that: (1) the Circuit Court lacked lawful jurisdiction over his criminal case because he was not charged by complaint or indictment, but instead by information, and the charges have never been explained to him; and (2) he was denied due process because his conviction was based upon false testimony.
Eastland acknowledges that he previously filed a habeas petition that was dismissed, but he takes issue with the fact that it was not evaluated on its merits. Citing Ex parte Royall, 117 U.S. 241 (1886), and Harris v. Nelson, 394 U.S. 286 (1969), Eastland asserts that he only learned on September 1, 2014, that he could pursue a jurisdictional challenge and assert his actual innocence in a habeas petition.
Rule 4 of the Rules Governing Section 2254 Cases in United States District Courts provides that upon preliminary consideration by the district court judge, " [i]f it plainly appears from the petition and any attached exhibits that the petitioner is not entitled to relief in the district court, the judge must dismiss the petition and direct the clerk to notify the petitioner." After carefully reviewing the petition in the present case and Eastland's litigation history, the Court concludes that this is an unauthorized successive petition which must be dismissed for lack of jurisdiction.
Title 28 U.S.C. § 2254 provides that the Court shall "entertain an application for a writ of habeas corpus on behalf of a person in custody pursuant to the judgment of the State court only on the ground that he is in custody in violation of the Constitution or laws or treaties of the United States." Accordingly, "[f]ederal courts can grant habeas relief only when there is a violation of federal statutory or constitutional law." United States ex rel. Lee v. Flannigan, 884 F.2d 945, 952 (7th Cir.1989). A petitioner is entitled to one clean shot at establishing entitlement to relief in a federal habeas corpus proceeding. Paulousky v. VanNatta, 431 F.3d 1063, 1064 (7th Cir.2005). Thus, "[a] claim presented in a second or successive habeas corpus application under section 2254 that was presented in a prior application shall be dismissed." 28 U.S.C. § 2244(b)(1).
Under 28 U.S.C. § 2244(b)(3), this Court has no jurisdiction to hear a second or successive habeas petition without authorization from the Seventh Circuit. Not all subsequent petitions, however, are considered to be "second or successive." See Panetti v. Quarterman, 551 U.S. 930, 944 (2007) ("The Court has declined to interpret second or successive' as referring to all § 2254 applications filed second or successively in time, even when the later filings address a state-court judgment already challenged in a prior § 2254 application."). Rather, "in order for a habeas petition to be considered successive, the previous motion must have been denied on the merits." Garrett v. United States, 178 F.3d 940, 942 (7th Cir.1999). Previous petitions that were dismissed for technical or procedural deficiencies, such as filing in the wrong district, failing to pay a filing fee, or failing to exhaust state-court remedies, do not trigger the successive-petition bar. Altman v. Benik, 337 F.3d 764, 766 (7th Cir.2003). A previous petition dismissed as untimely, however, does count as a prior petition for the purposes of section 2244(b) "because a statute of limitations bar is not a curable technical or procedural deficiency but rather operates as an irremediable defect barring consideration of the petitioner's substantive claims." Id .; see also Pavlovsky v. VanNatta, 431 F.3d 1063 (7th Cir.2005) ("[t]he dismissal of a suit as untimely is a dismissal on the merits"). That, essentially, is Eastland's problem.
As recently as 2011, the Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit twice declined to authorize Eastland to bring a successive Section 2254 petition regarding the same issues he is asserting in the present Section 2254 petition. In January of 2011, the appellate court stated:
Eastland's application proposes to argue that he is "wholly innocent" of any offense' that Illinois lacked jurisdiction over him; and the prosecutors willfully used lies to convict him. But none of the proposed claims relies on a new, retroactive rule of constitutional law. See 28 U.S.C. § 2244(b)(2)(A). Nor are they based on new facts. See id. § 2244(b)(2)(B).
Eastland v. Davis, Case No. 10-3938 (7th Cir. Jan. 5, 2011). In March 2011, the appellate court stated more explicitly:
[Eastland] proposes the same claims he has been litigating for the past ten years. As we have informed him before-twice-§ 2244(b)(1) bars authorization of claims previously presented to a court.
Additionally, we caution Eastland that submitting frivolous papers to a court will result in sanctions. Alexander v. United ...