United States District Court, S.D. Illinois
CHRISTOPHER J. HOWARD,
JACQUELINE LASHBROOK Defendant.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
R. HERNDON, U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE.
Christopher J. Howard, an inmate in the custody of the
Illinois Department of Corrections and currently housed at
Menard Correctional Center, brings this action for a writ of
habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. Petitioner
is challenging his October 2008 conviction in St. Clair
County, Illinois (Case No. 08-cf-881) for first degree
murder. Plaintiff is serving a 41-year sentence in connection
with this conviction.
matter is now before the Court for a preliminary review of
the § 2254 Petition pursuant to Rule 4 of the Rules
Governing § 2254 Cases in United States District Courts.
Rule 4 provides that upon preliminary consideration by the
district court judge, “[i]f it plainly appears from the
petition and any attached exhibits that the petitioner is not
entitled to relief in the district court, the judge must
dismiss the petition and direct the clerk to notify the
seeks to overturn his conviction on two grounds: (1)
violation of his Miranda rights and (2) failure to suppress
evidence allegedly obtained in violation of his Miranda
admits that he has not exhausted his state court remedies
with respect to these claims. Petitioner claims exhaustion is
not presently possible because a federal court must first
decide the Miranda rights issue. Petitioner also indicates
that neither claim has been exhausted because “both
grounds are pending.” (Doc. 1, p. 16). In connection
with this statement, Petitioner references a civil action in
St. Clair County, Illinois, Howard v. Butler, No.
16-MR-195 (dismissed with prejudice on September 6, 2016).
According to Petitioner, “grounds one and two are
currently pending in a motion for status with the Circuit
Court of St. Clair County.” (Doc. 1, p. 7).
Trial, Post-Conviction Motions, and Direct
a jury trial in the Circuit Court of St. Clair County,
Petitioner was found guilty of first degree murder and was
sentenced on December 18, 2008, to 41-years of imprisonment.
On January 6, 2009, Petitioner filed a pro se notice
of appeal and, on April 6, 2009, the Illinois Court of
Appeals dismissed the appeal for lack of jurisdiction.
April 6, 2009, the trial court denied Petitioner's motion
to reconsider and Petitioner's remaining pending pro
se motions. Petitioner, again pro se, filed a
notice of appeal regarding these judgments. Petitioner
subsequently obtained counsel and directed his attorney to
file a motion to dismiss the appeal, which was granted by the
appellate court. The case was dismissed in November 2010.
January 12, 2011, Petitioner filed a pro se document
with the trial court, later construed to be an amended
post-conviction petition. In that petition, Petitioner argued
a single ground for relief, that the circuit court violated
the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment when he
was not given notice nor present in court for a September 8,
2008 motion hearing. The State filed a motion to dismiss the
case and the Court granted the State's request on May 16,
2011. Petitioner did not appeal.
§ 2254 Petition
December 10, 2009, Petitioner filed a federal habeas petition
challenging his conviction for failure to comply with his
speedy trial rights. See Howard v. Hulick, No.
09-cv-1026-DRH. The undersigned dismissed the claim without
prejudice on June 15, 2010 because Petitioner's
post-conviction claim was still pending in state court.