Mahaffey v. Page, 97-4137

CourtUnited States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (7th Circuit)
Citation151 F.3d 671
Docket NumberNo. 97-4137,97-4137
PartiesJerry MAHAFFEY, Petitioner-Appellant, v. Thomas PAGE, Warden, Respondent-Appellee.
Decision Date06 August 1998

Page 671

151 F.3d 671
Jerry MAHAFFEY, Petitioner-Appellant,
Thomas PAGE, Warden, Respondent-Appellee.
No. 97-4137.
United States Court of Appeals,
Seventh Circuit.
Argued May 5, 1998.
Decided Aug. 6, 1998.

Page 674

Alan M. Freedman, Gary Prichard (argued), Midwest Center for Justice, Ltd., Chicago, IL, for Petitioner-Appellant.

Deborah L. Ahlstrand, Office of Attorney General, Civil Appeals Division, Chicago, IL, Renee G. Goldfarb (argued), Office of State's Attorney of Cook County, Criminal Appeals Division, Chicago, IL, for Respondent-Appellee.

Before CUMMINGS, FLAUM, and ROVNER, Circuit Judges.

FLAUM, Circuit Judge.

Jerry Mahaffey was convicted by an Illinois jury in 1985 of two counts of murder, along with one count each of attempted murder, aggravated battery, home invasion, rape, armed robbery, residential burglary, and theft. For these crimes, he was sentenced to death. On direct review, the Illinois Supreme Court affirmed his conviction and sentence, 128 Ill.2d 388, 132 Ill.Dec. 366, 539 N.E.2d 1172 (1989), and the United States Supreme Court denied his petition for certiorari, 497 U.S. 1031, 110 S.Ct. 3291, 111 L.Ed.2d 799 (1990). Mahaffey's state petition for post-conviction relief was similarly unsuccessful. See 165 Ill.2d 445, 209 Ill.Dec. 246, 651 N.E.2d 174 (1995), cert. denied, 516 U.S. 977, 116 S.Ct. 480, 133 L.Ed.2d 408 (1995). He then filed this petition for federal habeas corpus relief, 1 which the district court denied. See United States ex rel. Mahaffey v. Peters, 978 F.Supp. 762 (N.D.Ill.1997). Mahaffey now appeals the denial of the writ on a number of grounds rejected by the district court, and we affirm.


Jerry Mahaffey, along with his brother Reginald, drove to Chicago's North Side on the night of August 29, 1983 to burglarize a clothing store. The Mahaffey brothers aborted that plan at some point, and they instead chose to climb through an open window and into the apartment of Jo Ellen and Dean Pueschel. The Pueschels, along with their then-eleven-year old son Richard, were asleep at the time. After Reginald picked up a knife from the kitchen, the brothers first entered Richard's bedroom and proceeded to stab him with the knife and hit him over the head with a baseball bat that was in the bedroom. Reginald picked up a bat as well, and the brothers next proceeded into the Pueschels' bedroom, where they began to hit Dean Pueschel on the head with their bats.

Page 675

Jo Ellen was taken to another room, where she was raped and sodomized; at some point Jerry saw Dean Pueschel attempt to draw a gun in self-defense, so Jerry hit Dean over the head again with his bat. When both brothers went back into the Pueschels' bedroom to retrieve firearms that they had discovered, they saw Dean begin to move and stabbed him to death. Jo Ellen was taken out to the Pueschels' car, where she was forced to disarm the car's alarm system; she was then taken back into the apartment and beaten in the head with the butt of a pistol, which caused her death. This last beating occurred in Richard's presence, who had regained consciousness by this point. Jerry wiped down the fingerprints on everything that he and Reginald had touched in the apartment. Leaving Richard for dead, the brothers fled in the Pueschels' car, taking with them jewelry, guns, and video equipment that they had stolen. Richard survived the attack and was discovered by his grandfather the next day, dazedly wandering in the alley near his parents' home. 2

After receiving information from the Mahaffeys' brother, Cedric, police arrested both Jerry and Reginald. They confessed to authorities, and following a joint trial at which only Reginald testified, both Jerry and Reginald were convicted and sentenced to death. 3 Jerry Mahaffey's conviction and sentence were affirmed on appeal and state post-conviction review, and he now raises four arguments on appeal of the district court's denial of habeas corpus relief. First, he argues that the prosecution's exercise of its peremptory challenges at trial violated his Fourteenth Amendment rights. See Batson v. Kentucky, 476 U.S. 79, 106 S.Ct. 1712, 90 L.Ed.2d 69 (1986). Next, Mahaffey argues that the prosecutor's closing argument at the sentencing hearing falsely implied that Mahaffey could receive a sentence less than natural life imprisonment if the jury refused to impose the death penalty. Mahaffey asserts that this misrepresentation violated his rights under the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments. His third and fourth arguments assert that he received ineffective assistance from his trial counsel both at the sentencing hearing and in arguing a motion to suppress his confession. We will relate additional facts relevant to these arguments in the context of our discussion.


A. Batson Challenge

While Mahaffey's case was pending in the Illinois courts on direct review, the Supreme Court held in Batson v. Kentucky, 476 U.S. 79, 96-98, 106 S.Ct. 1712, 90 L.Ed.2d 69 (1986), that a prosecutor's discriminatory use of peremptory challenges on the basis of race could violate a defendant's right to equal protection under the Fourteenth Amendment. Evaluation of a Batson claim entails a three-step process. See id. at 96, 106 S.Ct. 1712. First, the defendant must make a prima facie showing that the prosecution has exercised peremptory challenges on the basis of race. If the defendant satisfies this threshold, the burden then shifts to the prosecution to articulate a race-neutral justification for the disputed challenges. If a race-neutral explanation is tendered, the court then must determine whether, in light of the proffered justification, the defendant has satisfied his burden of proving purposeful discrimination. See id. at 96-98, 106 S.Ct. 1712; see also Purkett v. Elem, 514 U.S. 765, 767, 115 S.Ct. 1769, 131 L.Ed.2d 834 (1995) (per curiam); McCain v. Gramley, 96 F.3d 288, 290 (7th Cir.1996), cert. denied, --- U.S. ----, 117 S.Ct. 1320, 137 L.Ed.2d 482 (1997).

Griffith v. Kentucky, 479 U.S. 314, 328, 107 S.Ct. 708, 93 L.Ed.2d 649 (1987), subsequently held that Batson applied retroactively, and the Illinois Supreme Court therefore directed the trial court in Mahaffey's case to conduct

Page 676

a hearing to determine whether the prosecution had violated the Fourteenth Amendment in employing its peremptory challenges. Mahaffey, who is black, argued that the prosecution violated Batson when it exercised peremptories on all seven of the black veniremen who were considered for Mahaffey's petit jury. See 132 Ill.Dec. 366, 539 N.E.2d at 1175. The trial judge found that Mahaffey could not establish a prima facie case of discrimination under Batson. The Illinois Supreme Court affirmed this finding, see 132 Ill.Dec. 366, 539 N.E.2d at 1185, as did the district court below, see 978 F.Supp. at 781-82. Mahaffey argues that the district court erred in holding that he failed to establish a prima facie case, and he further argues that he has established a case of purposeful discrimination under Batson that entitles him to a writ of habeas corpus. We reject this argument and affirm the district court's holding, though we employ a different analysis than the courts that previously have addressed Mahaffey's Batson claim.

1. Facts Relating to the Batson Claim

At the selection of Mahaffey's jury, seven black veniremen were presented for non-alternate seats following challenges for cause. The State, which was given a total of 24 peremptory challenges (Jerry and Reginald Mahaffey were given 12 each), exercised a peremptory on each of the seven black veniremen presented for the jury, and also on six white veniremen. Mahaffey's trial counsel moved to dismiss the venire each time the prosecution struck a black venireman, arguing that the prosecution was improperly excluding blacks from the jury. This motion was renewed at the conclusion of voir dire, which had produced a jury composed of eleven white jurors and one Asian juror. 4 The trial judge, who had posed all of the questions to the potential jurors during the voir dire, expressed concern regarding the prosecution's use of its peremptories and invited the prosecution to come forward with race-neutral justifications for its exercise of peremptories. The prosecution declined to do so, as it was entitled to do prior to Batson, and the court denied Mahaffey's motion to dismiss the venire.

While Mahaffey's appeal was pending in the Illinois Supreme Court, that court ordered the trial judge, Thomas Hett, to conduct a Batson hearing to address Mahaffey's claim that the prosecution had discriminated in exercising its peremptory challenges. In accordance with the procedures outlined in Batson, see 476 U.S. at 96-98, 106 S.Ct. 1712, Judge Hett was directed to permit Mahaffey to present evidence in support of his claim of unconstitutional discrimination and, if the court found that Mahaffey had established a prima facie case of discrimination, to require the prosecution to produce race-neutral justifications for the questioned challenges. See 132 Ill.Dec. 366, 539 N.E.2d at 1175. In support of his claim that the evidence established a prima facie case under Batson, Mahaffey emphasized that, following dismissals for cause, the prosecution used its peremptory challenges to remove all of the black veniremen presented for service on the jury. In addition, he argued that the fact that the prosecution had exercised a majority of its peremptory challenges--by a seven to six margin--on black veniremen further established a prima facie case. Further, Mahaffey pointed out that during the voir dire Judge Hett had asked the prosecution to explain the reasons for its use of its peremptory challenges. Mahaffey argued that Judge Hett's concern was itself indicative of a prima facie case.

In response, Assistant State's Attorney Paul Tsukono 5 first argued that Mahaffey had not established a prima facie case. In this regard, the prosecution pointed out that it had accepted a...

To continue reading

Request your trial
14 cases
  • Wallace v. Davis, Cause No. IP95-0215-C-B/S (S.D. Ind. 11/14/2002), Cause No. IP95-0215-C-B/S.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 7th Circuit. United States District Court (Southern District of Indiana)
    • November 14, 2002
    ...requires that the trial counsel in capital cases conduct a reasonable investigation into potential mitigating factors. Mahaffey v. Page, 151 F.3d 671, 686 (7th Cir. 1998), vacated in part on reh'g 162 F.3d 481 (1999); see, e.g., Strickland, 466 U.S. at 691. A "reasonable investigation" does......
  • Rompilla v. Horn, 00-9005.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (3rd Circuit)
    • January 13, 2004
    ...resources in preparing for a sentencing hearing"), cert. denied, 537 U.S. 893, 123 S.Ct. 162, 154 L.Ed.2d 158 (2002); Mahaffey v. Page, 151 F.3d 671, 685 (7th Cir.) ("A `reasonable investigation' does not mandate a `scorch-the-earth strategy,' a requirement that would fail to consider the l......
  • Durant v. Strack, 98-CV-7993 (FB).
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of New York)
    • June 19, 2001
    ..."a trial judge may rule on a Batson application even in the absence of a prima facie showing of discrimination ...."); Mahaffey v. Page, 151 F.3d 671, 678 n. 7 (rejecting state's argument that "because it was not required under Batson to proffer race-neutral justifications until [the defens......
  • People v. Coulter, 1-99-0432.
    • United States
    • United States Appellate Court of Illinois
    • March 30, 2001
    ...analysis of the reasons for excluding certain venirepeople. See Coulter v. Gilmore, 155 F.3d at 918 (distinguishing Mahaffey v. Page, 151 F.3d 671, 679-80 (7th Cir.1998)). This analysis was to include, but not be limited to, an examination of "the broader pattern of strikes." See 155 F.3d a......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT