United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
Z. LEE, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
2009, Petitioner Michael Turner was convicted of being an
armed habitual criminal and unlawful use of weapons by a
felon in the Circuit Court of Will County. He was sentenced
to concurrent terms of ten years of imprisonment for each
conviction. Currently before the Court is Turner's
pro se habeas corpus petition under 28 U.S.C. §
2254 . For the reasons stated herein, the petition is
police officer stopped Turner for a traffic violation in
December 2007 and discovered that his driver's license
was suspended. Resp't Ex. B, Direct Appeal Br.,
People v. Turner, No. 3-09-0756 ( Ill. App. Ct.),
ECF No. 13-1; Turner, No. 3-09-0756, at 2. According
to the officer's testimony, he also noticed a bulge in
Turner's clothing. Turner, No. 3-09-0756, at
the officer asked Turner to exit his vehicle, Turner fled.
Id. Police officers followed Turner to his apartment
building, where an officer observed him walking from an upper
floor to a lower floor, where his apartment was located.
Id. Officers recovered a handgun from underneath a
doormat on the floor above Turner's. Id.
Following a standoff, Turner was arrested in his apartment.
officers testified that Turner admitted that the gun
recovered from the apartment building was his. Id.
According to the officers, Turner had been a confidential
informant and stated that he had the gun because he feared
retaliation. Id. Turner had previously been
convicted of aggravated unlawful use of weapons by a felon
and unlawful possession of weapons by a felon. Id.
Turner's case proceeded to trial twice; his first trial
ended with a hung jury. See Resp't Ex. H,
Postconviction Finley Br., People v.
Turner, No. 3-12-0374 ( Ill. App. Ct.), at 5, ECF No.
13-2. The jury in Turner's second trial convicted him of
being an armed habitual criminal and unlawful use of a weapon
by a felon. Resp't Ex. A at 2. He was sentenced to two
concurrent terms of ten years of imprisonment. Id.
direct appeal, Turner argued that his conviction for unlawful
use of a weapon by a felon violated Illinois's
“one-act, one-crime” rule; that he was denied a
fair trial because the State attempted to shift the burden of
proof during its closing argument; that trial counsel had
provided ineffective assistance by failing to raise the prior
two arguments; and that trial counsel had provided
ineffective assistance by failing to redact from a State
exhibit information regarding prior charges of which he had
not been convicted. See Id. at 2-3, 6; see
also Resp't Ex. B. The Illinois Appellate Court
vacated Turner's conviction for unlawful use of a weapon
by a felon, but rejected his other claims. Resp't Ex. A
at 2-3, 16.
subsequently filed a pro se petition for leave to
appeal (“PLA”) in the Illinois Supreme Court,
again raising the claims that he was denied a fair trial by
the State's shifting of the burden of proof and that
trial counsel had been ineffective for failing to redact
information about his prior criminal charges. See
Resp't Ex. E, Direct Appeal PLA, People v.
Turner, No. 112575 (Ill.), ECF No. 13-1. The Illinois
Supreme Court denied the PLA in 2011. See Resp't
Ex. F, People v. Turner, 955 N.E.2d 479 (Ill. 2011),
ECF No. 13-2.
then filed a pro se postconviction petition in 2012,
raising various claims. See Resp't Ex. R, Trial
Court Pleadings, at 386-94, ECF No. 13-8. The trial court
dismissed the petition. Id. at 338. Turner appealed
and was appointed counsel; however, counsel moved to withdraw
pursuant to Pennsylvania v. Finley, 481 U.S. 551
(1987), on the basis that his review of the facts and
applicable law revealed Turner's claims to be meritless.
See Resp't Ex. H.
part, Turner filed a pro se brief alleging various
ineffective-assistance and due process claims. See
Resp't Ex. I, Postconviction Finley Response
Br., People v. Turner, No. 3-12-0374 ( Ill. App.
Ct.), ECF No. 13-2. The appellate court concluded that the
appeal was frivolous, permitted counsel to withdraw, and
summarily affirmed the denial of the petition. Resp't Ex.
G, People v. Turner, No. 3-12-0374 (Ill.App.Ct. Aug.
29, 2013), ECF No. 13-2; see also Resp't Ex.
Turner filed a pro se PLA, raising many of the same
claims raised in the appellate court. See Resp't
Ex. J, Postconviction PLA, People v. Turner, No.
116671 (Ill), ECF No. 13-2. The Illinois Supreme Court denied
the PLA in 2013. See Resp't Ex. K, People v.
Turner, 2 N.E.3d 1050 (Ill. 2013), ECF No. 13-3.
then filed a petition for relief from judgment in 2014,
arguing that the State had relied on perjured testimony; that
trial counsel had provided ineffective assistance by not
raising the perjury claim; and that the conviction for
aggravated unlawful use of a weapon was void because the law
was unconstitutional. See Resp't Ex. R at
531-41. The trial court denied the petition. Id. at
appeal, Turner was appointed counsel who again moved to
withdraw under Finley, concluding that an appeal
“would be frivolous” and meritless. See
Resp't Ex. M, Relief from Judgment Finley Br.,
People v. Turner, No. 3-14-0501 ( Ill. App. Ct.), at
1, ECF No. 13-3. Turner responded, asserting the same claims
he had raised in the trial court. See Resp't Ex.
N, Relief from Judgment Finley Response Br.,
People v. Turner, No. 3-14-0501 ( Ill. App. Ct.),
ECF No. 13-3. The Illinois Appellate Court found the appeal
frivolous, granted counsel leave to withdraw, and affirmed
the dismissal of the petition. See Resp't Ex. L,
People v. Turner, No. 3-14-0501 (Ill.App.Ct. Apr.
18, 2016), at 3, ECF No. 13-3.
filed a PLA, raising the perjury claim and a claim that his
conviction was void. See Resp't Ex. O, Petition
for Relief from Judgment PLA, People v. Turner, No.
120994 (Ill.), ECF No. 13-3. The Illinois Supreme Court
denied the PLA in 2016. See Resp't Ex. P,
People v. Turner, 60 N.E.3d 881 (Ill. 2016), ECF No.
then filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus,
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254, in October 2016.
See § 2254 Pet., ECF No. 1.
the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996
(“AEDPA”), a writ of habeas corpus may
issue only if the petitioner demonstrates that he is in
custody in violation of the Constitution, laws, or treaties
of the United States. 28 U.S.C. § 2254(a). The
availability of habeas relief serves as a
“guard against extreme malfunctions in the state
criminal justice systems, not a substitute for ordinary error
correction through appeal.” Harrington v.
Richter, 562 U.S. 86, 102-03 (2011) (internal quotation
marks omitted). A federal court may grant habeas
relief only if it determines that the state court's
decision on the merits “was contrary to, or involved an
unreasonable application of, clearly established Federal law,
as determined by the Supreme Court of the United States,
” or that the state court's decision was
“based on an unreasonable determination of the
facts.” 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d).
purposes of applying the standard, the Supreme Court has
defined “clearly established federal law” as the
“holdings, as opposed to the dicta, of [the Supreme
Court's] decisions as of the time of the relevant
state-court decision.” Carey v. Musladin, 549
U.S. 70, 74 (2006) (quoting Williams v. Taylor, 529
U.S. 362, 412 (2000)). The state court need not cite, or even
be aware of, controlling Supreme Court decisions, as long as
the state court does not contradict precedent. Early v.
Packer, 537 U.S. 3, 8 (2002). Furthermore, federal
courts must presume that state courts know and follow federal
law. Woodford v. Visciotti, 537 U.S. 19, 24 (2002).
This presumption is especially strong when a state court
considers well-established legal principles that have been
routinely applied in criminal cases for many years. Burt
v. Titlow, 571 U.S. 12, 19 (2013).
court's decision is “contrary to” clearly
established federal law under § 2254(d)(1) if the state
court applied a rule different from the governing law under
the Supreme Court's precedents, or if it decided a case
differently than the Supreme Court has done on a set of
materially indistinguishable facts. Premo v. Moore,
562 U.S. 115, 128 (2011). In turn, a state court's
decision involves an “unreasonable application”
of clearly established federal law under § 2254(d)(1) if
the state court identified the correct legal principle from
Supreme Court precedent but unreasonably applied that
principle to the facts of the petitioner's case.
Rompilla v. Beard, 545 U.S. 374, 380 (2005). These
deferential standards are “intentionally difficult to
meet, ” Woods v. Donald, 135 S.Ct. 1372, 1376
(2015) (internal quotation marks omitted), and
habeas relief is available only “where there
is no possibility fairminded jurists could disagree that the
state court's decision conflicts with [the Supreme
Court's] precedents.” Harrington, 562 U.S.
analyzing the state court decision, a federal court must
review the decision of the last state court to rule on the
merits of the habeas petitioner's claims.
McNary v. Lemke, 708 F.3d 905, 913 (7th Cir. 2013).
The state court's factual determinations are presumed
correct, and the petitioner bears the burden of overcoming
this presumption by clear and convincing evidence.
Thompkins v. Pfister, 698 F.3d 976, 983 (7th Cir.
2012) (citing 28 U.S.C. § 2254(e)(1)).
addition, the analysis is “backward looking, ”
meaning that the federal court is limited to reviewing the
record before the state court at the time the state court
made its decision. Cullen v. Pinholster, 563 U.S.
170, 181-82 (2011). The court is also limited to considering
Supreme Court precedent as of the time the state court
rendered its decision. Greene v. Fisher, 565 U.S.
34, 38 (2011).
§ 2254 petition presents the following 15
grounds for relief:
Ground One: Trial counsel was ineffective
for failing to redact from a prosecution exhibit information
concerning prior charges of which Turner was not convicted.
Ground Two: Trial counsel was ineffective
for failing to object when the prosecution attempted to shift
the burden of proof during closing argument by arguing that
cross-examination of the State's witnesses had ...