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Caldwell v. Garnett

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

September 16, 2016

CORVELL CALDWELL, Petitioner,
v.
JASON C. GARNETT, Respondent.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          DAVID R. HERNDON JUDGE.

         In 2010, a jury in McLean County, Illinois, convicted Corvell Caldwell of one count of criminal sexual assault. He was sentenced to 14 years imprisonment. Caldwell filed a petition for habeas relief pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §2254, Doc. 1.[1] As construed on preliminary review, Doc. 6, the petition raises the following grounds:

1. The state's closing and rebuttal arguments improperly shifted the burden of proof from the state to petitioner, thereby denying him a fair trial in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment.
2. The evidence was insufficient to convict petitioner, violating the Fourteenth Amendment's Due Process Clause.

         Respondent argues that both grounds are procedurally defaulted.

         Relevant Facts and Procedural History

         1. Facts

         The state court's factual findings are presumed to be correct unless rebutted by clear and convincing evidence, which petitioner has not done. 28 U.S.C. §2254(e).

         According to the description by the Illinois Appellate Court, Fourth District, in its Rule 23 Order affirming on direct appeal, the victim, Brian S., was a student at Illinois State University. Brian went out drinking with friends in several bars in downtown Bloomington, Illinois, on the evening of the crime. Brian became separated from his friends and began walking home. Petitioner, who did not know Brian, offered him a ride back to campus. Instead of taking him back to campus, petitioner convinced Brian to go to a strip club, where Brian drank a shot of whiskey. The two men got back in the car, and Brian passed out. When he awoke, he was still in the passenger's seat. Petitioner was outside the passenger side door, performing oral sex on Brian. Petitioner also testified. He admitted giving Brian a ride and going to the strip club. He testified that, while he was driving back to Bloomington from the club, the victim placed petitioner's hand on his crotch. Petitioner denied placing his mouth on the victim's penis. See, People v. Caldwell, Order on Direct Appeal, Doc. 15, Ex. 1.[2]

         2. State Court Proceedings

         Petitioner filed a post-trial motion in which he raised, among other points, a claim that the state filed to prove him guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Doc. 15, Ex. 7, p. 69.

         Caldwell raised two claims on direct appeal: (1) the state's closing and rebuttal arguments improperly shifted the burden of proof to petitioner; and (2) a $5.00 State Police OP Assistance fee was improperly imposed. See, Defendant's Brief on Direct Appeal, Doc. 15, Ex. 2.

         Caldwell filed a pro se petition for leave to appeal to the Supreme Court of Illinois asking the Supreme Court “to review all points of the Appellate Court.” Doc. 15, Ex. 6. The Supreme Court denied leave to appeal on May 29, 2013. Doc. 15, Ex. 5.

         Petitioner did not file a state postconviction petition. His federal habeas petition was filed approximately eight months after the Supreme Court of ...


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