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Santos v. Williams

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

May 18, 2017

CARLOS SANTOS, Petitioner,
v.
TARRY WILLIAMS, Warden, Stateville Correctional Center, Respondent.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          MARVIN E. ASPEN, District Judge:

         Presently before us is Respondent's motion for reconsideration of our December 2, 2016 Order requiring an evidentiary hearing on Petitioner Carlos Santos' petition for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. (Dkt. No. 42.) For the reasons set forth below, we grant in part and deny in part the motion for reconsideration.

         BACKGROUND

         We assume familiarity with the relevant facts as detailed in our December 2, 2016 Order and thus do not fully recount them here. Santos v. Williams, No. 15 C 5325, 2016 WL 7077104 (N.D. Ill.Dec. 2, 2016). Santos filed his § 2254 petition on June 16, 2015 challenging his felony first degree murder and discharge of a firearm convictions in Illinois state court. He asserted two claims: (1) the state violated his Fifth, Sixth, and Fourteenth Amendment rights when the trial judge communicated ex parte with the deliberating jury, provided them a dictionary, and failed to ascertain what the jury used it for after it was removed; and (2) the state violated his right to due process by failing to disclose material evidence in violation of Brady v. Maryland, 373 U.S. 83, 83 S.Ct. 1194 (1963). Id. at *2. We denied Santos' second claim, but determined he was entitled to an evidentiary hearing on his first claim to determine whether and to what extent the ex parte communication and jury use of the dictionary caused prejudice to Santos. Id. at *10. We appointed counsel to represent Santos at the hearing and referred the matter to the Magistrate Judge to conduct the evidentiary hearing and file a Report and Recommendation. Id. On February 10, 2017, Respondent filed the instant motion for reconsideration to which Santos, now represented by counsel, responded.

         LEGAL STANDARD

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 54(b) provides that a court may alter or amend an interlocutory order any time before entry of judgment. Moses H. Cone Mem'l Hosp. v. Mercury Constr. Corp., 460 U.S. 1, 12, 103 S.Ct. 927, 935 (1983). (“[E]very order short of a final decree is subject to reopening at the discretion of the district judge.”); Mintz v. Caterpillar Inc., 788 F.3d 673, 679 (7th Cir. 2015) (courts have discretion to reconsider an interlocutory order at any time prior to final judgment). Motions to reconsider interlocutory orders “serve a limited function: to correct manifest errors of law or fact or to present newly discovered evidence.” Caisse Nationale de Credit Agricole v. CBI Indus., Inc., 90 F.3d 1264, 1269 (7th Cir. 1996) (quoting Keene Corp. v. Int'l Fidelity Ins. Co., 561 F.Supp. 656, 665 (N.D. Ill. 1982)). “A manifest error is not demonstrated by the disappointment of the losing party. It is the wholesale disregard, misapplication, or failure to recognize controlling precedent.” Oto v. Metro. Life Ins. Co., 224 F.3d 601, 606 (7th Cir. 2000) (internal citations omitted). We may also “reconsider a prior decision when there has been a significant change in the law or facts since the parties presented the issue to the court, when the court misunderstands a party's arguments, or when the court overreaches by deciding an issue not properly before it.” United States v. Ligas, 549 F.3d 497, 501 (7th Cir. 2008). While motions to reconsider are permitted, “they are disfavored.” Patrick v. City of Chi., 103 F.Supp.3d 907, 911 (N.D. Ill. 2015) (finding the party bringing a motion for reconsideration “bears a heavy burden, and motions for reconsideration are not at the disposal of parties who want to rehash old arguments”); see also Bank of Waunakee v. Rochester Cheese Sales, Inc., 906 F.2d 1185, 1191 (7th Cir. 1990) (observing motions to reconsider should be rare as the circumstances permitting relief rarely arise).

         ANALYSIS

         Respondent's motion for reconsideration raises several issues. First, Respondent argues that to the extent our December 2, 2016 Order relied on Remmer v. United States, 347 U.S. 227, 74 S.Ct. 450 (1954) in determining Santos was entitled to an evidentiary hearing, Respondent justifiably “had not discerned a Remmer claim in the habeas petition” and consequently did not discuss the issue in answering the petition. (Mot. for Reconsideration (“Mot.”) (Dkt. No. 42) at 6). Second, Respondent argues that Santos procedurally defaulted a Remmer claim by failing to seek a hearing in state court. (Id. at 7-10.) Third, default aside, Respondent contends that Santos' claim is barred and he is not entitled to an evidentiary hearing under 28 U.S.C. § 2254(e) because he failed to adequately build a record in state court. (Id. at 10-11.) Fourth, Respondent asserts that to the extent the December 2, 2016 Order establishes a new retroactive rule of procedure on collateral appeal, it is improper under Teague v. Lane, 489 U.S. 288, 109 S.Ct. 1060 (1989). (Id. at 11-12.) Finally, in the alternative, Respondent contends that to the extent an evidentiary hearing is required, we should clarify the burden of proof to be applied. (Id. at 12-13.)

         I. PROCEDURAL DEFAULT

         Respondent first argues that reconsideration is appropriate here because our liberal interpretation of Santos' petition “brought to the parties' attention an important issue that was not previously apparent to them, ” namely, a “potential claim under Remmer v. United States, 347 U.S. 227 (1954), that respondent understandably did not see in the petition.” (Reply Br. (Dkt. No. 55) at 3.) Respondent's answer did not discuss Remmer, but he argues we should excuse this potential waiver and now consider an argument that Santos procedurally defaulted “any claim that the state courts failed to afford petitioner a Remmer hearing (or apply a Remmer presumption at such a hearing).” (Mot. at 7.)

         Our December 2, 2016 Order set forth three issues raised by Santos' petition:

(1) whether the ex parte communication between the judge and jury violated Santos' constitutional rights to counsel and to be present at all critical stages of the proceedings; (2) whether his constitutional rights were violated by allowing the jury to consider information outside the evidence presented at trial and apart from their own beliefs and experiences; and (3) whether the alleged errors caused actual prejudice.

Santos, 2016 WL 7077104, at *4. Respondent's motion does not appear to take issue with our decision on either of the first two issues. Rather, he contends we erred in finding an evidentiary hearing was necessary to determine whether the violation of Santos' constitutional rights caused prejudice.

         The Confrontation Clause of the Sixth Amendment and the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment provide defendants the right to be present at all critical stages of criminal proceedings. Illinois v. Allen, 397 U.S. 337, 338, 90 S.Ct. 1057, 1058 (1970); United States v. Gagnon, 470 U.S. 522, 526, 105 S.Ct. 1482, 1484 (1985); Moore v. Knight, 368 F.3d 936, 940 (7th Cir. 2004). Likewise, the Sixth and Fourteenth Amendments protect a defendant's right to an impartial jury, one free of external influences affecting the jury's deliberations. Parker v. Gladden, 385 U.S. 363, 364-65, 87 S.Ct. 468, 470-71 (1966); Turner v. Louisiana, 379 U.S. 466, 472, 85 S.Ct. 546, 549 (1965); Oswald v. Bertrand, 374 F.3d 475, 477 (7th Cir. 2004). The Supreme Court “has long held that the remedy for allegations of juror partiality is a hearing in which the defendant has the opportunity to prove actual bias.” Smith v. Phillips, 455 U.S. 209, 215, 102 S.Ct. 940, 945 (1982). However, ex parte communications or extraneous influences on a jury's deliberations will only violate a defendant's rights where such intrusions caused prejudice to the defendant, meaning the intrusion affected the jury's deliberations and thereby its verdict. See United States v. Olano, 507 U.S. 725, 739, 113 S.Ct. 1770, 1780 (1993); Phillips, 455 U.S. at 217, 102 S.Ct. at 946; Gagnon, 470 U.S. at 526, 105 S.Ct. at 1484. Thus, due process requires the trial judge “to determine the circumstances, the impact thereof upon the juror, and whether or not it was prejudicial.” Remmer, 347 U.S. ...


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