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Jefferson v. Duncan

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

January 16, 2015

WALTER JEFFERSON, B31401, Petitioner,
v.
STEPHEN DUNCAN, Warden, Lawrence Correctional Center, [1] Respondent.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

REBECCA R. PALLMEYER, District Judge.

Petitioner Walter Jefferson is serving a 60-year sentence for first-degree murder and armed robbery after pleading guilty on February 28, 1992. On February 26, 2014, Petitioner filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254 on three grounds: (1) the confession he signed was the product of coercion, as Petitioner was held in custody for more than 48 hours and was subjected to sleep deprivation; (2) Petitioner's trial counsel was ineffective in (a) threatening and intimidating Petitioner to force him to plead guilty, (b) failing to notify Petitioner of the three-year mandatory supervised relief portion of his sentence, and (c) failing to present mitigating evidence during sentencing; and (3) the trial court improperly rejected Petitioner's request that new counsel be appointed. Respondent Stephen Duncan, the Warden of Lawrence Correctional Center where Petitioner is being held, moves to dismiss Jefferson's petition as untimely. As explained below, the court agrees that the petition is untimely. Respondent's motion to dismiss the petition [6] is granted, and the court declines to grant a certificate of appealability.

BACKGROUND AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

I. Conviction and Direct Appeal

On habeas review, federal courts presume the factual findings made by state courts are correct. See 28 U.S.C. § 2254(e)(1); Coleman v. Hardy, 690 F.3d 811, 815 (7th Cir. 2012). This presumption can only be rebutted by clear and convincing evidence. 28 U.S.C. § 2254(e)(1). The following facts are drawn from the Illinois Appellate Court's decision affirming the dismissal of Mr. Jefferson's petition for post-conviction relief. ( People v. Jefferson, No. 1-11-2453, 2013 WL 598116 (Ill.App.Ct. Feb. 15, 2013), Ex. A to Mot. to Dismiss [6-1].) On February 28, 1992, Petitioner pleaded guilty to first degree murder and armed robbery in the Circuit Court of Cook County. ( Id. ¶ 3.) Judge Michael P. Toomin sentenced Petitioner to sixty years in prison for murder and thirty years for armed robbery, to be served concurrently. ( Id. ) Petitioner later moved to withdraw his guilty plea, asserting that the plea was involuntary.[2] ( Id. ¶ 4.) The Circuit Court denied Petitioner's motion and the Illinois Appellate Court affirmed Petitioner's convictions and sentence on direct appeal, rejecting challenges to the voluntariness of the plea. ( Id. ) The Illinois Supreme Court denied Jefferson's petition for leave to appeal ("PLA") on December 1, 1993. People v. Jefferson, 153 Ill.2d 565, 624 N.E.2d 812 (Ill. 1993) (Table). Petitioner did not seek a writ of certiorari from the United States Supreme Court following the denial of his PLA. (Respondent's Mot. to Dismiss Pet. for a Writ of Habeas Corpus as Untimely [6], hereinafter "Mot. to Dismiss, " 2.)

II. Post-Conviction Proceedings

Nearly six years later, on July 23, 2009, Petitioner filed a pro se post-conviction petition in the Circuit Court of Cook County, alleging that he had recently learned from a prison law clerk that he would be required to serve a three-year mandatory supervised release ("MSR") period following his sentence. ( People v. Jefferson, No. 1-11-2453, 2013 WL 598116 (Ill.App.Ct. 1st Dist. Feb. 15, 2013), Ex. A to Mot. to Dismiss ¶ 5.) Petitioner's only argument in his post-conviction petition was that the state court violated his due process rights when it failed to notify him of the MSR at the time of his plea hearing. ( Id. ) The Circuit Court denied the petition, reasoning that although People v. Whitfield, 217 Ill.2d 177, 840 N.E.2d 658 (Ill. 2005) requires modifying a defendant's sentence if he or she was not advised of the MSR before entering a plea, that rule is not retroactive. ( People v. Jefferson, No. 1-11-2453, 2013 WL 598116 (Ill.App.Ct. Feb. 15, 2013), Ex. A to Mot. to Dismiss ¶¶ 5-6) (citing People v. Morris, 236 Ill.2d 345, 925 N.E.2d 1069 (2010).) Petitioner's plea was entered in 1993, well before Whitfield was decided in 2005, and the Circuit Court concluded that Petitioner had not presented a substantial showing of a constitutional violation. ( Id. at ¶ 6.) Petitioner appealed, but on February 15, 2013, the Illinois Appellate Court affirmed, relying on the same reasoning as the Circuit Court. ( Id. at ¶ 12.) Petitioner did not file a PLA with the Illinois Supreme Court. (Mot. to Dismiss ¶ 4.) Instead, Petitioner sought a writ of certiorari to the United States Supreme Court, which the Court denied on November 18, 2013. Jefferson v. Illinois, No. 13-6337, 134 S.Ct. 674 (2013).

III. Federal Habeas Petition

On February 26, 2014, [3] Petitioner filed this pro se petition for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. (Pet. for Writ of Habeas Corpus [1], hereinafter "Pet.") Petitioner presents three grounds for relief: (1) the confession he signed was coerced (Pet. at 5); (2) his trial counsel was ineffective because counsel threatened and intimidated him, failed to notify him of the mandatory supervised relief portion of his sentence, and failed to present mitigating evidence at sentencing ( id. ); and (3) the trial court denied Petitioner's right to counsel by denying his request for appointment of a new attorneyl. ( Id. at 6.)

DISCUSSION

The Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act ("AEDPA") governs the standards for federal habeas relief from a state-court conviction and sentence. 28 U.S.C. § 2254. Respondent argues that Petitioner's claims are barred by the statute of limitations. (Mot. to Dismiss at 4-5.)

I. Timeliness

Under AEDPA, a state prisoner ordinarily has one year to file a federal habeas petition, starting from the date on which the state criminal judgment became final, either by the conclusion of direct review, or the expiration of the time for seeking such review. 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d)(1). There are three circumstances under which courts may use a later start date for the one-year clock: (1) where the state creates an unconstitutional impediment to the filing of a petition; (2) where the Supreme Court recognizes a new, retroactive constitutional right; and (3) where newly discovered evidence forms the factual predicate of a claim. 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d)(1)(B)-(D). Additionally, that one-year clock ...


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