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Martinez v. Pfister

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

January 19, 2017

JESSE B. MARTINEZ, Plaintiff,
v.
RANDY PFISTER, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          SAMUEL DER-YEGHIAYAN UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT JUDGE.

         This matter is before the court on Petitioner Jesse Martinez's (Martinez) pro se petition for write of habeas corpus (Petition) brought pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254 and pro se motion to stay the habeas corpus proceedings. For the reasons stated below, the Petition is denied and the motion to stay is denied.

         BACKGROUND

         On December 17, 2001, Martinez was convicted in a jury trial for first degree murder, attempted first degree murder, aggravated battery with a firearm, armed violence, and home invasion. On December 15, 2005, Martinez's conviction was affirmed by the Illinois Appellate Court (Appellate Court). Martinez then filed a petition for leave to appeal (PLA) with the Illinois Supreme Court, and the PLA was denied on May 24, 2006. The record does not reflect that Martinez appealed the denial of that petition. On December 1, 2006, Martinez filed a post-conviction petition. On March 3, 2010, Martinez filed an amended petition and on May 18, 2012, Martinez filed a supplemental addendum. On December 19, 2012, the trial court granted a motion to dismiss Martinez's post-conviction petition. On April 27, 2015, the Illinois Appellate Court affirmed the trial court decision. On September 30, 2015, the Illinois Supreme Court affirmed the Appellate Court's decision and denied Martinez's PLA. On March 4, 2016, Martinez filed the instant Petition. Respondent has filed an answer and opposes the Petition. On November 28, 2016, Martinez filed a motion to stay the habeas corpus proceedings and Respondent opposed Martinez's motion.

         LEGAL STANDARD

         An individual in custody pursuant to state court judgment may seek a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to Section 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).

         DISCUSSION

         This court has liberally construed Martinez's 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”). Martinez asserts in the Petition: (1) that the Appellate Court erred in finding that Martinez's right to due process was not violated where Martinez claims that the State concealed incentives given to key witnesses (Claim 1), (2) that the Appellate Court erred in denying Martinez's claim for ineffective assistance of counsel (Claim 2), (3) that the Appellate Court erred in holding that Martinez's right to due process and fair trial was not violated when the court permitted a State witness to attribute a statement to Martinez which was never disclosed (Claim 3), (4) that the Appellate Court erred by making an unreasonable determination of facts as presented in State court (Claim 4), and (5) that the Appellate Court erred by denying Martinez leave to file his supplemental brief (Claim 5).

         I. Claim 1

         As indicated above, Martinez argues in Claim 1 that his right to due process was violated where the State allegedly concealed financial incentives given to key witnesses. Martinez alleges that the State withheld information from his counsel, which violated Martinez's due process rights under Brady v. Maryland, 373 U.S. 83 (1963). For a Brady claim, a petitioner must show: (1) “that the government failed to give him evidence favorable to his defense, that would tend to show his innocence, or that could be used to impeach witnesses at trial, ” and (2) “that the evidence suppressed was material; that ‘there is a reasonable probability that, had the evidence been disclosed to the defense, the result of the proceeding would have been different.'” Morgan v. Hardy, 662 F.3d 790, 800 (7th Cir. 2011)(quoting in part Strickler v. Greene, 527 U.S. 263, 281 (1999)).

         In the instant action, the record reflects that Martinez argued on appeal that the State failed to produce information regarding Melissa Sandoval's (Sandoval) financial incentives for providing her testimony. The record reflects that the prosecution offered to Sandoval's mother that they would provide financial assistance to relocate Sandoval. (R. Ex. A:33-34). The financial assistance included moving expenses, first month of rent, and security deposit. The record reflects that the prosecution tendered a note to Martinez's counsel prior to Sandoval's testimony. (Pet. 58). The record further reflects that the note outlined the financial arrangement between the government and Sandoval. (Pet. 58). Sandoval testified as a witness to the Martinez's alleged crimes, and Sandoval provided adverse testimony against Martinez. (Pet. 58-60). The Appellate Court found that Martinez's attorney was properly notified of the arrangement between the prosecution and Sandoval. (R. Ex. A:34-37). In addressing the merits of the claims in a Section 2254 habeas petition, the federal court “presume[s] state factual findings to be correct, unless the petitioner rebuts the presumption by clear and convincing evidence.” Morgan v. Hardy, 662 F.3d 790, 797-98 (7th Cir.2011) (stating that “[t]he presumption of correctness also applies to factual findings made by a state court of review based on the trial record”). The Appellate Court found that the prosecution properly disclosed information to Martinez's counsel prior to Sandoval's testimony and did not commit a discovery violation. The Appellate Court also found that even if the prosecution did not disclose this information, the result of the proceeding would have been the same. Martinez fails to rebut the presumption by clear and convincing evidence that the prosecution failed to provide favorable evidence to Martinez. Even absent such an evidentiary burden, it is clear that the prosecution did not commit a Brady violation. Therefore, Claim 1 lacks any merit.

         II. ...


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