945 F.2d 926 (7th Cir. 1991), 90-2707, Williams v. Chrans

Docket Nº:90-2707.
Citation:945 F.2d 926
Party Name:Hernando WILLIAMS, Petitioner-Appellant, v. James CHRANS and Neil F. Hartigan, Respondents-Appellees.
Case Date:October 01, 1991
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit
 
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945 F.2d 926 (7th Cir. 1991)

Hernando WILLIAMS, Petitioner-Appellant,

v.

James CHRANS and Neil F. Hartigan, Respondents-Appellees.

No. 90-2707.

United States Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit

October 1, 1991

Argued Jan. 17, 1991.

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Barry Levenstam (argued), Michael T. Brody, Jerold S. Solovy, Jenner & Block, Chicago, Ill., Donald B. Verrilli, Jr., Jenner & Block, Washington, D.C., for petitioner-appellant.

Marie Czech, Asst. Atty. Gen. (argued), Terence M. Madsen, Asst. Atty. Gen., Steven J. Zick, Crim. Appeals Div., Kathleen F. Howlett, Cook County State's Atty's. Office, Chicago, Ill., for respondents-appellees.

Before CUDAHY, RIPPLE and MANION, Circuit Judges.

RIPPLE, Circuit Judge.

Hernando Williams pled guilty to state charges of armed robbery, aggravated kidnapping, rape, and murder. A jury sentenced Mr. Williams to death. The conviction and sentence were affirmed on direct appeal to the Illinois state courts. A petition for collateral review likewise resulted in no relief. Mr. Williams then petitioned the district court for habeas relief under 28 U.S.C. § 2254. The district court denied his petition, 742 F.Supp. 472. Mr. Williams appealed. For the following reasons, we affirm the judgment of the district court.

I

BACKGROUND

A. Facts

In denying the petition for a writ of habeas corpus, the district court relied on the account of the underlying facts 1 set forth by the Illinois Supreme Court in Mr. Williams' direct appeal of his conviction. 2 We shall do the same. See Sumner v. Mata, 449 U.S. 539, 101 S.Ct. 764, 66 L.Ed.2d 722 (1981).

[T]he victim, Mrs. Linda Goldstone, on March 30, 1978, was employed at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago as an instructor in the Lamaze method of childbirth. On that evening, as she was alighting from her car in the victinity [sic] of the hospital, she was approached by the defendant and robbed at gunpoint. He made her undress from the waist down. He then forced her into his car and, it appears, took her to a shop owned by his father. There he bound her hands and feet.

He then forced her into the trunk of his car. With Mrs. Goldstone in the trunk, the defendant picked up his sister at work and drove her home. He then drove the victim to a motel, forced her inside and raped her.

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On the next day, with Mrs. Goldstone bound and locked in the trunk of the car, the defendant appeared at a suburban court where charges of aggravated kidnaping, rape and armed robbery were pending against him. The case was continued, and the defendant then drove to visit a friend, Nettie Jones, at her apartment. While he was there, people of the area heard cries for help coming from the trunk of his auto. Someone notified the police of the incident. The defendant drove away from a crowd that had gathered and proceeded to a tavern, where he visited other friends.

Early that evening, the defendant checked into another motel. He forced Mrs. Goldstone into the motel and again raped her. Later, he forced her back into the trunk and picked up his niece at a friend's house and drove the niece home. As he had done the day before, he drove his sister home from work and spent the evening visiting various taverns with friends.

In the meantime, police were searching for the defendant's car. The victim's husband, Dr. James Goldstone, a physician, after learning that his wife had not appeared for class that evening, notified the police of her absence. The victim's car was found by Northwestern University security officers. Early the following morning, Dr. Goldstone received a phone call from his wife in which she told him that she would be home soon. He heard a voice in the background say, "Shut up bitch, tell him you'll be home in about an hour." The victim asked Dr. Goldstone if he had called the police, and he told her to tell the man whose voice he had heard that he had not informed the police.

Officers investigating the incident at Jones' apartment obtained the license number of the car and learned that the defendant had visited Jones. The police searched the area for the auto without success and periodically watched the defendant's home, but the car was not located.

On April 1, at 6 a.m., the defendant released the victim from the trunk of the auto. He gave her $1.25 and instructed her to take a bus home and not to call the police. He then drove off. The victim, ignoring his instructions, ran to the porch of a nearby house for help. The person who came to the door refused to allow her to enter, but he did call the police. The defendant, who had only driven around the block to see whether his instructions would be obeyed, returned and ordered the victim off the porch. He then took her to an abandoned garage and killed her, shooting her in the chest and head. There was medical evidence that the victim had been beaten once or more during her captivity.

The defendant was arrested at his home that afternoon while he was washing the trunk of his car.

73 Ill.Dec. at 364-65, 454 N.E.2d at 224-25.

B. Procedural History

On April 1, 1978, Williams was arrested for the murder, aggravated kidnapping, rape, and armed robbery of Linda Goldstone. He first pled not guilty. After the state trial court denied several pretrial motions, including a motion to suppress the confession, Mr. Williams changed his plea to guilty to one count each of murder, aggravated kidnapping, rape, and armed robbery. The state then formally requested a capital sentencing hearing, and Mr. Williams submitted his jury request.

The Illinois death penalty statute 3 provides for a bifurcated sentencing hearing. In the first phase--the eligibility phase--the state must prove beyond a reasonable doubt at least one of seven aggravating factors. In the second phase--the aggravation/mitigation phase--the state presents evidence of any aggravating factors. The defense argues any mitigating factors.

In the first phase, the jury determined that the state had established beyond a reasonable doubt the existence of two statutory aggravating factors: Mr. Williams had murdered Linda Goldstone in the

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course of three other felonies and had murdered an eyewitness to the crimes. In the second phase, during which Mr. Williams testified on his own behalf, the jury unanimously found that there were no mitigating factors sufficient to preclude the imposition of the death sentence. The court therefore sentenced Mr. Williams to death.

As provided by Illinois law, 4 Mr. Williams then appealed directly to the Illinois Supreme Court. The conviction and sentence were affirmed. See People v. Williams, 97 Ill.2d 252, 73 Ill.Dec. 360, 454 N.E.2d 220 (1983), cert. denied, 466 U.S. 981, 104 S.Ct. 2364, 80 L.Ed.2d 836 (1984). A post-conviction petition was then filed in the Circuit Court of Cook County. 5 The trial court denied the petition without a hearing. The Illinois Supreme Court affirmed. People v. Williams, 109 Ill.2d 391, 94 Ill.Dec. 429, 488 N.E.2d 255 (1985), cert. denied, 478 U.S. 1022, 106 S.Ct. 3340, 92 L.Ed.2d 744 (1986). Mr. Williams then filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus in the district court. After full briefing and argument, the district court, in a lengthy and comprehensive opinion, denied the petition. This appeal followed.

II

ANALYSIS

The people of Illinois, through their elected representatives, have decided that, under certain circumstances, the crime of murder ought to be punished by death. In this case, the state, acting through an elected prosecutor, asked that such a penalty be imposed. An Illinois jury agreed and the courts of Illinois have determined that the jury's decision is lawful as a matter of state law. The state courts also have determined that the imposition of death by the state in this case does not offend federal constitutional standards. It is, of course, only this last decision that is reviewable on petition for a writ of habeas corpus in the district court and, on appeal, in this court. With this perspective in mind, we shall address each of Mr. Williams' contentions. In each instance, we set out, when appropriate, the analysis of the district court. We also note that we have had the benefit of excellent briefs and oral presentations by both counsel for the state and counsel for Mr. Williams, who, we gratefully note, served by appointment of the court.

A. Coercion of Guilty Plea

We begin with the only matter raised by Mr. Williams that implicates directly the proceedings prior to the capital sentencing proceeding. The district court set forth the matter succinctly, and we rely heavily on its description of this submission by Mr. Williams. 6

The Cook County Public Defender's Office assigned four attorneys to represent Mr. Williams. According to their affidavits, which the district court took as true for purposes of this claim, they initially agreed that Mr. Williams should continue to plead not guilty and proceed to trial. A psychologist and psychiatrist were hired to assist in jury selection, to assess Mr. Williams' competency to stand trial, and to advise on the merits of an insanity defense. The trial court denied key defense motions, including the motion to suppress the confession. Defense counsel then determined that the chance of acquittal was slim and that Mr. Williams would best be served by a guilty plea and a strong defense at the capital sentencing hearing. They accordingly persuaded Mr. Williams to enter a guilty plea. In his affidavit, Mr. Williams describes the day before trial:

[One of my attorneys] came to visit me. He continued to press me to enter a guilty plea. I did not want to do that. He repeatedly told me that I was hurting my...

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