United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division
MARTIN E. GOMEZ, Petitioner,
TERI KENNEDY, Warden, Respondent.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
Honorable Marvin E. Aspen United States District Judge.
us is Petitioner Martin E. Gomez's (“Gomez”
or “Petitioner”) motion to vacate, set aside, or
correct a sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. (Pet.
(Dkt. No. 1).) The State of Illinois filed a response on
behalf of Warden Teri Kennedy (collectively
“Respondent”). (Resp. to Pet. for Relief
(“Resp.”) (Dkt. No. 6).) For the foregoing
reasons, we deny petitioner's request
for relief and deny a certificate of
was indicted for solicitation of murder in 2014. (Resp. at
1); People v. Gomez, 2014 IL App (3d) 12023-U,
¶ 2. In that 2014 proceeding, Gomez moved to dismiss the
indictment as based on false or misleading testimony to the
grand jury. Gomez, 2014 IL App (3d) at ¶ 2.
Gomez argued Respondent's indictment was based on false
or misleading testimony of Detective Denise Powers that
defendant solicited fellow inmate Miguel Hurtado to murder
his girlfriend. Id. at ¶ 5. Detective
Powers' testimony was partially based on a surreptitious
recording that Hurtado collected during a conversation with
Gomez. Id. at ¶ 6. Petitioner's claim
centers on whether Powers misled the grand jury in
interpreting Gomez's request that Hurtado “get rid
of” his girlfriend as a request to kill Gomez's
girlfriend. Id. at ¶¶ 5-6. The trial judge
denied Petitioner's motion to dismiss the indictment, and
the parties proceeded to a bench trial. Id. at
trial, Gomez presented his interpretation of the recording.
Id. at ¶¶ 9-10. Gomez claimed he was
coerced into making the recording and that he actually only
wanted Hurtado to hide his girlfriend since she was being
pressured to testify against him. Id. at
¶¶ 10-11. The trial court judge listened to the
tape and credited Hurtado's account of the contents of
the tape. Id. The Illinois Court of Appeals affirmed
the trial court's determinations on both the indictment
and the sufficiency of the evidence to convict Gomez.
Id. at ¶¶ 16-17, 20, and 22. Gomez
appealed to the Illinois Supreme Court, but his appeal was
denied. People v. Gomez, 8 N.E.3d 1050, 1050 (Ill.
2014) (table op.). Gomez subsequently filed for collateral
relief in state court through a postconviction relief
petition that he dismissed voluntarily on April 13, 2019.
(Resp. at 3.)
petitioned this court for a writ of habeas corpus on April
26, 2019 under 28 U.S.C. § 2254, seeking relief under
the Due Process Clause based entirely upon the State's
introduction of false or misleading testimony before the
grand jury. (Pet. at 5.) In other words, the sole question
before this court is whether the trial court's denial of
Gomez's motion to dismiss the original indictment was
contrary to well-established law.
empowered to grant a writ of habeas corpus only if Petitioner
is imprisoned “in violation of the Constitution or laws
or treaties of the United States.” 28 U.S.C. §
2254(a); Estelle v. McGuire, 502 U.S. 62, 68, 112
S.Ct. 475, 480 (1991). Federal habeas relief may be granted
to a petitioner who can establish that the state court's
adjudication of his claim was “contrary to, or involved
an unreasonable application of, clearly established Federal
law, as determined by the Supreme Court of the United States,
” 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d)(1), or where the state
court's decision was “based on an unreasonable
determination of the facts in light of the evidence presented
in the State court proceeding.” Id. at §
§ 2254(d)(1), the “contrary to” and
“unreasonable application” clauses are given
independent meaning. Williams v. Taylor, 529 U.S.
362, 405, 120 S.Ct. 1495, 1519 (2000). A state court decision
is “contrary to” established Supreme Court
precedent if the state court “arrives at a conclusion
opposite to that reached by [the Supreme] Court on a question
of law” or if the state court “confronts facts
that are materially indistinguishable from a relevant Supreme
Court precedent and arrives at [an opposite result].”
court decision is “an unreasonable application”
of Supreme Court precedent if the state court
“identifies the correct governing legal rule from [the
Supreme] Court's cases but unreasonably applies it to the
facts of the particular state prisoner's case” or
if the state court “either unreasonably extends a legal
principle from [Supreme Court] precedent to a new context
where it should not apply or unreasonably refuses to extend
that principle to a new context where it should apply.”
Id. at 407. The reasonableness inquiry “is
quite deferential, such that a state decision may stand so
long as it is objectively reasonable, even if the reviewing
court determines it to be substantively incorrect.”
Barrow v. Uchtman, 398 F.3d 597, 602 (7th Cir.
2005). “Under § 2254(d)(2), a decision involves an
unreasonable determination of the facts if it rests upon
fact-finding that ignores the clear and convincing weight of
the evidence.” Goudy v. Basinger, 604 F.3d
394, 399 (7th Cir. 2010) (citing Ward v. Sternes,
334 F.3d 696, 704 (7th Cir. 2003)). A state court's
factual determinations are presumed correct, and the burden
rests upon the petitioner to rebut that presumption by clear
and convincing evidence. 28 U.S.C. §
construe Petitioner's pro se petition liberally.
Parker v. Four Seasons Hotels, Ltd., 845 F.3d 807,
811 (7th Cir. 2017) (“A trial court is obligated to
liberally construe a pro se plaintiff's
pleadings.” (citing Erickson v. Pardus, 551
U.S. 89, 94, 127 S.Ct. 2197, 2200 (2007); Kelley v.
Zoeller, 800 F.3d 318, 325 (7th Cir. 2015); Nichols
v. Mich. City Plant Planning Dept., 755 F.3d 594, 600
(7th Cir. 2014)).
THE STATE TRIAL COURT DID NOT ERR IN DENYING PETITIONER'S
MOTION TO DISMISS THE INDICTMENT.
claims the Illinois trial court denied him his right to due
process of law under the Fourteenth Amendment to the Federal
Constitution when it allowed misleading testimony before the
grand jury to serve as the basis for the State's
indictment. (Pet. at 5.) Respondent argues Detective
Powers' testimony represented a reasonable interpretation
of the information presented before the grand jury,
particularly when placed into the full context of the
evidence available to Powers. (Resp. at 4.) Gomez argues he
should have been allowed to present a letter from his
girlfriend to contradict this characterization of testimony
and asks this court to expand the record to consider the
contents of this letter. (Pet. Reply ...