United States District Court, S.D. Illinois
KEVIN A JOHNSON, No. Y-26289, Petitioner,
STATE OF ILLINOIS, Respondent.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
J. ROSENSTENGEL Chief U.S. District Judge
Kevin A. Johnson, an inmate of the Illinois Department of
Corrections (“IDOC”) who is currently
incarcerated at Pinckneyville Correctional Center, filed this
Petition pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. Johnson seeks to
challenge his 2017 Illinois conviction (Saline County Circuit
Court No. 2016-CF-55) on multiple grounds, including but not
limited to: (1) ineffective assistance of counsel; (2)
Brady violations; (3) insufficient evidence; (4)
mental illness; and (5) due process violations.
case is now before the Court for a preliminary review of the
Petition pursuant to Rule 4 of the Rules Governing Section
2254 Cases in United States District Courts. After carefully
reviewing the Petition, the Court concludes that it must be
October 2, 2017, after a bench trial, Johnson was found
guilty of three counts of criminal sexual assault of a family
member under the age of 18 and two counts of aggravated
criminal sexual abuse of a family member under the age of 18.
On November 14, 2017, Johnson was sentenced to 34 years'
imprisonment. In his Petition, Johnson admits that he is
presently pursuing an appeal and that his appeal is still
pending. (Doc. 1, p. 3). In addition, Saline County court
records indicate that a status hearing on Johnson's
“Motion for Post Conviction Relief” is set on
June 26, 2019.
is presently pursuing an appeal and/or has a post-conviction
motion pending in Saline County Circuit Court pertaining to
the same conviction he seeks to challenge in this case.
Because Johnson's criminal matter is clearly ongoing, his
Petition must be dismissed pursuant to the abstention
doctrine outlined in Younger v. Harris, 401 U.S. 37
(1971). Under Younger, federal courts are required
to abstain from interference in ongoing state proceedings
when they are “(1) judicial in nature, (2) implicate
important state interests, and (3) offer an adequate
opportunity for review of constitutional claims, (4) so long
as no extraordinary circumstances exist which would make
abstention inappropriate.” Green v. Benden,
281 F.3d 661, 666 (7th Cir. 2002) (citing Middlesex Cnty.
Ethics Comm. v. Garden State Bar Ass'n, 457 U.S.
423, 432, 436-37 (1982) and Majors v. Engelbrecht,
149 F.3d 709, 711 (7th Cir. 1998)).
Younger abstention doctrine is implicated here
because the ongoing proceeding is judicial in nature and
involves the important state interest of adjudicating whether
Johnson's conviction should be set aside. Further, there
is no indication that the state proceedings would not provide
Johnson with an adequate opportunity for review of any
constitutional claims. Finally, no extraordinary
circumstances are apparent which require federal intervention
at this stage.
Petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus (Doc. 1) is
DISMISSED without prejudice pursuant to Rule
4 of the Rules Governing Section 2254 Cases. The ongoing
adjudication of Johnson's criminal case leads the Court
to conclude that it should abstain from intervening in this
pending matter. All pending motions are DENIED as
Johnson desire to appeal this Court's ruling, he must
first secure a certificate of appealability, either from this
Court or from the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals.
See Fed. R. App. P. 22(b); see also 28
U.S.C. § 2253(c)(1). Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2253,
a certificate of appealability may issue “only if the
applicant has made a substantial showing of the denial of a
requirement has been interpreted by the Supreme Court to mean
that an applicant must show that “reasonable jurists
would find the district court's assessment of the
constitutional claims debatable or wrong.” Slack v.
McDaniel, 529 U.S. 473, 484 (2000). While a petitioner
need not show that his appeal will succeed, Miller-El v.
Cockrell, 537 U.S. 322, 337 (2003), he must show
“something more than the absence of frivolity” or
the existence of mere “good faith” on his part.
Id. at 338 (citation omitted). If the district court
denies the request, a petitioner may request that a circuit
judge issue the certificate. See Fed. R. App. P.
reasons set forth above, Johnson is not entitled to relief at
this time, and the Court finds no basis for a determination
that its decision is debatable or incorrect. Thus, Johnson
has not made “a substantial showing of the denial of a
constitutional right, ” and a certificate of
appealability shall not issue. The Clerk of Court is
DIRECTED to enter judgment accordingly and
close this case.
the Court notes that the Petition contains information that
could potentially identify the alleged minor victim.
Accordingly, out of an abundance of caution, the Court
DIRECTS the Clerk of Court to seal the ...