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Lomax v. Melvin

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

June 7, 2018

CRAIG RASHAAN LOMAX, Petitioner,
v.
MICHAEL MELVIN, Respondent.

          OPINION AND ORDER

          WILLIAM T. HART, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This case is before the court on Petitioner Craig Rashaan Lomax's (Lomax) pro se petition for writ of habeas corpus (Petition) brought pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254 (Section 2254) and Respondent Michael Melvin's (Respondent) motion to lift stay and dismiss (Motion). For the reasons stated below, the Petition is denied and the Motion is granted.

         BACKGROUND

         Following a jury trial in the Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois, Lomax was convicted of two counts of first-degree murder, two counts of aggravated kidnapping, three counts of armed robbery, and two counts of aggravated battery. People v. Lomax, 2011 IL App (1st) 092186-U, ¶ 1. Lomax was sentenced to two concurrent terms of natural life imprisonment for the murder convictions, a concurrent twenty-year sentence for one of the armed robbery convictions, and two five-year sentences for the aggravated battery convictions to run consecutively to the armed robbery sentence. Lomax, 2011 IL App (1st) 092186-U, ¶ 8. Lomax filed an appeal contending that the trial court had erred in denying Lomax's motion to suppress his pre-trial statements to police, and the trial court's denial of Lomax's motion and its judgment were affirmed on July 22, 2011. Lomax, 2011 IL App (1st) 092186-U, ¶¶ 1, 21. Lomax then filed a petition for leave to appeal (PLA) with the Illinois Supreme Court, which was denied November 30, 2011. People v. Lomax, 962 N.E.2d 486 (table) (Ill. 2011).

         Lomax filed a post-conviction petition raising an alleged Brady violation on October 22, 2012 which was dismissed on December 11, 2012, and the dismissal was affirmed on December 12, 2014.[1] People v. Lomax, 2014 IL App (1st) 130477-U, ¶¶ 1, 4, 30. Lomax subsequently filed a PLA, which was denied March 25, 2015. People v. Lomax, 31 N.E.3d 771 (table) (Ill. 2015).

         Lomax then filed a habeas petition in the Circuit Court of Cook County on July 24, 2015 which was dismissed August 25, 2015. Pet. pp. 144, 162. Lomax filed a motion for leave to file a late notice of appeal in the Illinois Appellate Court on January 12, 2016, which was denied January 22, 2016. Mot. Ex. I.

         Lomax then filed a motion for leave to file a successive post-conviction petition on March 9, 2016 based on the alleged Brady violation. Mot. Ex. K.

         On August 29, 2016, Lomax filed the present Petition. Pet. p. 1.

         On September 28, 2016, the Illinois Supreme Court denied Lomax's PLA from the Appellate Court denial of Lomax's motion for leave to file a late notice of appeal (from the dismissal of Lomax's state habeas petition). Mot. Ex. J.

         On October 7, 2016, this court stayed the proceedings regarding the Petition pending Lomax's ongoing state proceedings. Dkt. #7.

         The Circuit Court of Cook County denied Lomax's motion for leave to file a successive post-conviction petition on September 22, 2017. Mot. Ex. L.

         The Respondent moves to lift the stay and dismiss the Petition on the ground that it is untimely. See 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d).

         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 Lomax's pro se filings. See Parker v. Four Seasons Hotels, Ltd., 845 F.3d 807, 811 (7th Cir. 2017)(stating that a “trial court is obligated to liberally construe a pro se plaintiff's pleadings”)(citing Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007); Kelley v. Zoeller, 800 F.3d 318, 325 (7th Cir. 2015); Nichols v. Mich. City Plant Planning Dep't, 755 F.3d 594, 500 (7th Cir. 2014)); 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”). Lomax asserts in the Petition: that the State committed a Brady violation by failing to disclose that it had paid to relocate one of its witnesses (Claims 1 and 4), that Lomax's ...


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