United States District Court, S.D. Illinois
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
Stokes (Petitioner), proceeding pro se, filed a
petition for writ of habeas corpus under 28 U.S.C. §
2254 in this Court. (Doc. 1). He challenges his 1998
conviction in Cook County, Illinois for first-degree murder
and attempted armed robbery. Id. at 1. Petitioner
contends he is entitled to habeas relief because the trial
judge did not properly conduct a Batson hearing on
remand; the jury should have been instructed to consider a
lesser-included offense; and his post-conviction counsel was
ineffective. Id. at p. 6. For the following reasons,
Petitioner's writ of habeas corpus under § 2254 is
State of Illinois (the State) indicted and charged Petitioner
with first-degree murder and attempted armed robbery in
connection with a fatal shooting in September 1998. (Doc. 12,
Ex. 1, p. 2).
proceeded to a jury trial in March 2004. Id. During
voir dire, the State used its peremptory challenges
to strike the only two African American members of the
venire. (Doc. 12, Ex. 2, p. 41). Petitioner orally objected,
arguing the strikes violated Batson v. Kentucky, 476
U.S. 79, 90 (1986). Id. The trial court denied the
motion, finding Petitioner failed to make a prima
facie showing of a Batson violation.
court later questioned potential juror Katherine Minogue,
whose father was a police officer. Id. Ms. Minogue
admitted she would give more weight to a police officer's
testimony than to an ordinary citizen's testimony.
Id. She further admitted “deep down inside
[she would] be a little biased” in favor of law
enforcement. Id. Another potential juror, David
Street, stated his cousins were police officers and he would
give more weight to an officer's testimony. Id.
Mr. Street, however, said he would try to follow the law and
judge the testimony equally. Id. Defense counsel
attempted to ask Mr. Street follow-up questions but the
prosecution objected to the questioning and the court
sustained the objections. Id. at pp. 41-42.
Petitioner's counsel motioned to strike Ms. Minogue and
Mr. Street for cause, but the court denied the motions.
Id. at p. 42. Counsel exercised his final peremptory
challenge to exclude Ms. Minogue, and Mr. Street served on
the jury. Id. The jury ultimately convicted
Petitioner and the court sentenced him to thirty-five
years' imprisonment. Id. at p. 44.
filed a direct appeal in the Appellate Court of Illinois,
arguing the State violated Batson; trial counsel was
ineffective during jury-selection for failing to request an
extra peremptory challenge and permitting Mr. Street to sit
on the jury; and the prosecutor's closing argument denied
Petitioner a fair and impartial trial under the Sixth
Amendment. (Doc. 12, Ex. 1, p. 1). The appellate court found
Petitioner established a prima facie case under
Batson and remanded the case for further proceedings
consistent with its ruling. Id. at p. 21. The court
declined to address Petitioner's remaining arguments.
remand, the trial court conducted a colloquy prior to the
Batson hearing. (Doc. 12, Ex. 2, p. 44). Petitioner
requested the court appoint him a different attorney, but the
court refused. Id. at pp. 44-46. Petitioner told the
judge, “That ain't my motherfucking attorney. Look,
you going to give me a motherfucking attorney. You ain't
about to make me go through no motherfucking attorney like
that.” Id. at p. 46. As the sheriff escorted
Petitioner from the courtroom, Petitioner said,
“Yo' bitch ass - fuck you, bitch. Yo' momma a
ho. I should bite your punk ass. You stupid bitch.”
returned to the courtroom later that day and apologized to
the court. He stated he did not take his bipolar medication
and was “really cranky.” Id.
Petitioner's counsel told the judge Petitioner seemed
“to know what he [was] talking about.” Petitioner
cited Batson, so counselor believed he was
“alert and all of that.” Id. Counsel
also opined Petitioner understood what was “going
on.” Id. at p. 47. The court proceeded to
conduct the hearing and found no Batson violation.
appealed, arguing the trial court should have held a fitness
hearing prior to the Batson hearing; trial counsel
was ineffective for permitting Mr. Street to serve on the
jury; the trial court erred when it limited defense
counsel's examination of Mr. Street; the trial court
improperly refused an instruction on the credibility of
police officers; and the prosecutor's closing argument
violated Petitioner's Sixth Amendment right to a fair and
impartial trial. Id. at pp. 40-41.
appellate court held the trial court did not abuse its
discretion when it failed to conduct a fitness hearing
sua sponte prior to the Batson hearing,
id. at p. 49; trial counsel was not ineffective for
permitting Mr. Street to serve on the jury, id. at
p. 50; and the trial court did not err in refusing a
proffered jury instruction, id. at p. 52. The
appellate court found the trial court did err when it denied
counsel the opportunity to question Mr. Street regarding his
potential bias. Id. at p. 51. However, the
“overwhelming evidence against defendant”
rendered the error harmless. Id. Similarly, the
appellate court determined that the prosecution's remarks
during closing arguments “could be considered improper,
” but, “given the evidence, ” the remark
did not affect the verdict. Id. at p. 54. The
appellate court affirmed Petitioner's conviction.
Id. at p. 55.
filed a petition for leave to appeal (PLA) to the Supreme
Court of Illinois, arguing his trial counsel was ineffective
for permitting Mr. Street to serve on the jury and the trial
court erred by limiting counsel's questions to Mr.
Street. (Doc. 12, Ex. 3, pp. 23-43). The Supreme Court of
Illinois denied the petition. Id. at p. 63.
then filed a State post-conviction petition, arguing the
(1) The trial court erred in giving a certain jury
instruction; (2) he was not advised of his Miranda
rights; (3) he was not given a prompt probable cause hearing
before he was transferred to adult court; (4) failure to
prove guilty beyond a reasonable ...