United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division
SAMUEL DER-YEGHIAYAN, District Judge.
This matter is before the court on Petitioner Alfredo Ramos' (Ramos) 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 jury trial in Illinois state court, Ramos was convicted on two counts of first degree murder, for the murder of two individuals during an armed robbery. Ramos was sentenced to life imprisonment. Ramos appealed his conviction and on December 4, 2009, the Illinois Appellate Court affirmed his conviction. Ramos then filed a petition for leave to appeal (PLA) with the Illinois Supreme Court, which was denied on May 26, 2010. Ramos subsequently filed a petition for certiorari with the United States Supreme Court, which was denied on January 10, 2011. Ramos then filed a petition for post-conviction relief, which was dismissed by the trial court. Ramos filed an appeal, which was affirmed on December 10, 2013. Ramos then filed a PLA, which was denied on March 26, 2014. On May 29, 2014, Ramos filed the instant Petition. Respondent has answered the Petition.
An individual in custody pursuant to a 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 Ramos' 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 "). Ramos asserts in the Petition: (1) that Ramos was denied a fair trial due to statements made by the prosecutor during closing arguments (Claim 1), (2) that Ramos was denied a fair trial due to certain remarks made by the judge to the jurors (Claim 2), (3) that the trial court erred in dismissing his post-conviction petition because Ramos' trial counsel was ineffective relating to the failure of Ramos in exercising his right to have a bench trial (Claim 3), and (4) that the trial court erred in dismissing his post-conviction petition because Ramos' trial counsel was ineffective relating to the failure to call a witness during a hearing on a suppression motion (Claim 4).
I. Procedurally Defaulted Claims
Respondent argues that Claims 1, 2, and 4 are procedurally defaulted and that there is no justification to excuse the default.
A. Procedural Default
Respondent contends that Ramos failed to raise Claims 1, 2, and 4 through one complete round of the state court appellate review process. A district court "cannot review a habeas petitioner's constitutional issue unless he has provided the state courts with an opportunity to resolve it by invoking one complete round of the state's established appellate review process.'" Byers v. Basinger, 610 F.3d 980, 985 (7th Cir. 2010)(quoting O'Sullivan v. Boerckel, 526 U.S. 838, 845 (1999)). If a habeas petitioner failed to "properly assert his federal claim at each level of state court review, " the petitioner is deemed to have "procedurally defaulted that claim." Malone v. Walls, 538 F.3d 744, 753 (7th Cir. 2008)(quoting Lewis v. Sternes, 390 F.3d 1019, 1025 (7th Cir. 2004)); see also Johnson v. Hulett, 574 F.3d 428, 431 (7th Cir. 2009)(stating that "[t]o obtain federal habeas review, a state prisoner must first submit his claims through one full round of state-court review, " and that "[t]he penalty for failing to fully and fairly present  arguments to the state court is procedural default"). A petitioner, in exhausting his state court remedies, has "the duty to fairly present his federal ...