Perri v. Director, Dept. of Corrections, State of Ill., No. 85-2854

CourtUnited States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (7th Circuit)
Writing for the CourtBefore COFFEY, FLAUM, and EASTERBROOK; FLAUM
Citation817 F.2d 448
PartiesStano PERRI, Petitioner-Appellant, v. DIRECTOR, DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS, STATE OF ILLINOIS, Respondent-Appellee.
Decision Date29 April 1987
Docket NumberNo. 85-2854

Page 448

817 F.2d 448
Stano PERRI, Petitioner-Appellant,
v.
DIRECTOR, DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS, STATE OF ILLINOIS,
Respondent-Appellee.
No. 85-2854.
United States Court of Appeals,
Seventh Circuit.
Argued Feb. 20, 1987.
Decided April 29, 1987.

Page 449

James H. Reddy, Public Defender of Cook County, Chicago, Ill., for petitioner-appellant.

James E. Fitzgerald, Asst. Atty. Gen., Chicago, Ill., for respondent-appellee.

Before COFFEY, FLAUM, and EASTERBROOK, Circuit Judges.

FLAUM, Circuit Judge.

Stano Perri was convicted of murdering his wife, Adelina. After exhausting his state remedies, he filed suit seeking a writ of habeas corpus in federal district court. Perri alleged that he did not knowingly and intelligently waive his Miranda rights, and that his confession was not voluntary. He asserted that, as a result, the admission of his confession into the trial violated his Fifth and Sixth Amendment rights. We conclude that Perri's confession was knowing and intelligent, and voluntary, and accordingly affirm the denial of his habeas petition.

I.

A.

Stano Perri was born in Italy. Perri completed five years of school, but never received formal training in the English language. In 1974, Perri decided to move to Elmwood Park, Illinois. There he landed a construction job. On the job, and at home, he spoke Italian.

In October of 1977, Perri returned to Italy to get married. He and his wife Adelina returned to Elmwood Park in 1978. They soon began to experience marital problems. This was confirmed to Perri on the night of July 17, 1978, when he came home to find his wife alone, and partially, unclothed, with the apartment manager. A domestic quarrel ensued, and the Elmwood police were called in.

About one month later, on August 18, 1978, Perri told his wife that he would like her to move out. She refused and admitted to having an affair with the apartment manager. A violent argument followed and later that evening Adelina was found dead. She had been beaten, and then strangled to death.

Perri was arrested for Adelina's murder. At the time of his arrest, the police gave Perri his Miranda warnings. The record reflects that the assistant state's attorney first gave each warning in English. The Elmwood Park chief of police then translated each warning into Italian. The chief of police had no formal training in Italian; he had learned the language from his parents (who spoke a different dialect than Perri). Perri responded in Italian to the translation of each warning. After each warning, the assistant state's attorney asked Perri in English "if he understood." Perri responded in English that he did.

The trial court admitted Perri's confession into evidence, and the jury found him guilty of murder. Perri appealed to the Illinois Appellate Court, which affirmed his conviction. The Illinois Supreme Court denied review.

B.

Perri filed a habeas corpus petition in the district court pursuant to 28 U.S.C. Sec. 2254 (1982). In the district court, Perri argued that the Elmwood Park chief of police was not competent to translate the Miranda warnings, because the chief was not "fluent" in Italian and spoke a different dialect than Perri. As a result, Perri asserted that his confession was not knowing and intelligently made, and therefore, was not voluntary. Perri argued, therefore, that the admission of his confession at trial violated his Fifth and Sixth Amendment rights.

The district court found that Perri's confession was voluntary. The district court also held that Perri understood his rights and knowingly and intelligently waived

Page 450

them based upon the fact that the state trial judge found that Perri made his confession voluntarily. The district court believed that determinations by state courts, including a finding of voluntariness, must be presumed to be correct in federal habeas actions. 1 Section 2254(d) of title 28 provides that in habeas proceedings, the federal courts are to presume state court factual findings are correct, if these findings are made after a hearing on the merits, and are fairly supported by the record. See generally Wainwright v. Witt, 469 U.S. 412, 426-30, 105 S.Ct. 844, 853-55, 83 L.Ed.2d 841 (1985); United States ex rel. Kosik v. Napoli, 814 F.2d 1151 (7th Cir.1987); United States ex rel. Smith v. Fairman, 769 F.2d 386, 393-95 (7th Cir.1985). 2

II.

A.

On appeal, Perri essentially argues that his English was poor, his education was minimal, and that the warnings were inadequately translated. Based upon all of these factors, Perri asks this court to conclude that he did not understand his warnings, and thus, did not knowingly waive his rights.

As an initial matter, we must determine the appropriate standard of review that governs our evaluation of a state court's finding of a knowing and intelligent waiver of Miranda rights. In Miller v. Fenton, 474 U.S. 104, 106 S.Ct. 445, 88 L.Ed.2d 405 (1985), a case concerned with a claim of a coerced confession, which involves a uniquely federal interest, the Supreme Court held that the ultimate question of whether a confession is voluntary is a question of law subject to plenary federal review. Miller did make clear, however, that the presumption of correctness in 28 U.S.C. Sec. 2254(d) applies to the "subsidiary" findings of fact. See id. at 453; see also Wainwright v. Witt, 469 U.S. 412, 427-28, 105 S.Ct. 844, 854, 83 L.Ed.2d 841 (1985) (collecting recent Supreme Court cases).

Miller does not, however, control our standard of review in this case. In Miller, the Court expressly left open the question we are faced with now: "whether federal habeas courts must accord the statutory presumption of correctness to state-court findings concerning the validity of a waiver," Miller, 106 S.Ct. at 449 n. 3. But see Brewer v. Williams, 430 U.S. 387, 397 n. 4 & 403-04, 97 S.Ct. 1232, 1239 n. 4 & 1242, 51 L.Ed.2d 424 (1977). See generally Robbins, Whither (or Wither) Habeas Corpus?: Observations on the Supreme Court's 1985 Term, 111 F.R.D. 265, 272-77 (1986). In Brewer v. Williams, supra, the Court stated that whether a defendant had waived his or her constitutional rights was a federal question. Brewer, 430 U.S. at 403-04, 97 S.Ct. at 1242. However, the

Page 451

Court in Miller has, without citing Brewer, called this determination into question. Miller, 106 S.Ct. at 449 n. 3.

Miller has given us an opportunity to re-evaluate our previous decisions which concluded that Sec. 2254(d) did not apply to the issue of whether a waiver was knowing and intelligent. See, e.g., United States ex rel. Tonaldi v. Elrod, 716 F.2d 431, 437 (7th Cir.1983). We believe that in light of Miller 3 and the fact that the Court has implicitly questioned Brewer, 4 the determination of knowing and intelligent waiver is a factual inquiry. We therefore conclude that findings of a state court on questions of whether a defendant understood his or her rights and knowingly and intelligently waived them are entitled to the Sec. 2254(d) presumption. Accord Ahmad v. Redman, 782 F.2d 409, 412, 414 (3rd Cir.), cert. denied, --- U.S. ----, 107 S.Ct. 119, 93 L.Ed.2d 66 (1986). But see Fernandez v. Rodriguez, 761 F.2d 558, 561-62 (10th Cir.1985).

The determination of whether a defendant understood his or her rights, and knowingly waived them, is factual for several reasons. Whether a waiver was knowing and intelligent involves basic or primary facts--" 'in the sense of a recital of external events and the credibility of their narrators,' " Townsend v. Sain, 372 U.S. 293, 309 n. 6, 83 S.Ct. 745, 755 n. 6, 9 L.Ed.2d 770 (1963) (quoting Brown v. Allen, 344 U.S. 443, 506, 73 S.Ct. 397, 446, 97 L.Ed. 469 (1953)). On the other hand, mixed questions of law and fact "involve the application of legal principles to the historical facts of [the] case," Cuyler v. Sullivan, 446...

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87 practice notes
  • Resnover v. Pearson, Civ. No. S88-128.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 7th Circuit. United States District Court of Northern District of Indiana
    • January 14, 1991
    ...F.2d 615 (7th Cir.), cert. denied, 484 U.S. 929, 108 S.Ct. 296, 98 L.Ed.2d 256 (1987); and Perri v. Director, Department of Corrections, 817 F.2d 448 (7th Cir.), cert. denied, 484 U.S. 843, 108 S.Ct. 135, 98 L.Ed.2d 92 A review of the record in the light most favorable to the prosecution co......
  • Wickliffe v. Farley, Civ. No. S92-324(S).
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 7th Circuit. United States District Court of Northern District of Indiana
    • November 10, 1992
    ...F.2d 615 (7th Cir.), cert. denied, 484 U.S. 929, 108 S.Ct. 296, 98 L.Ed.2d 256 (1987); and Perri v. Director, Department of Corrections, 817 F.2d 448 (7th Cir.), cert. denied, 484 U.S. 843, 108 S.Ct. 135, 98 L.Ed.2d 92 A review of the record in the light most favorable to the prosecution co......
  • Gerald v. Duckworth, No. 93-1192
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (7th Circuit)
    • December 20, 1994
    ...867 (1987); Shepard v. Lane, 818 F.2d 615 (7th Cir.), cert. denied, 484 U.S. 929 (1987); and Perri v. Director, Department of Corrections, 817 F.2d 448 (7th Cir.), cert. denied, 484 U.S. 843 A review of the record in the light most favorable to the prosecution convinces the court that a rat......
  • Bennett v. Duckworth, No. 2:95cv079 AS.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 7th Circuit. United States District Court of Northern District of Indiana
    • November 29, 1995
    ...(1994); Lewis v. Huch, 964 F.2d 670, 671 (7th Cir.1992); see 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d)(8) (1994). In Perri v. Director, Dep't of Corrections, 817 F.2d 448 (7th Cir.), cert. denied sub nom. Perri v. Lane, 484 U.S. 843, 108 S.Ct. 135, 98 L.Ed.2d 92 (1987), the Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circu......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
87 cases
  • Resnover v. Pearson, Civ. No. S88-128.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 7th Circuit. United States District Court of Northern District of Indiana
    • January 14, 1991
    ...F.2d 615 (7th Cir.), cert. denied, 484 U.S. 929, 108 S.Ct. 296, 98 L.Ed.2d 256 (1987); and Perri v. Director, Department of Corrections, 817 F.2d 448 (7th Cir.), cert. denied, 484 U.S. 843, 108 S.Ct. 135, 98 L.Ed.2d 92 A review of the record in the light most favorable to the prosecution co......
  • Wickliffe v. Farley, Civ. No. S92-324(S).
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 7th Circuit. United States District Court of Northern District of Indiana
    • November 10, 1992
    ...F.2d 615 (7th Cir.), cert. denied, 484 U.S. 929, 108 S.Ct. 296, 98 L.Ed.2d 256 (1987); and Perri v. Director, Department of Corrections, 817 F.2d 448 (7th Cir.), cert. denied, 484 U.S. 843, 108 S.Ct. 135, 98 L.Ed.2d 92 A review of the record in the light most favorable to the prosecution co......
  • Gerald v. Duckworth, No. 93-1192
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (7th Circuit)
    • December 20, 1994
    ...867 (1987); Shepard v. Lane, 818 F.2d 615 (7th Cir.), cert. denied, 484 U.S. 929 (1987); and Perri v. Director, Department of Corrections, 817 F.2d 448 (7th Cir.), cert. denied, 484 U.S. 843 A review of the record in the light most favorable to the prosecution convinces the court that a rat......
  • Bennett v. Duckworth, No. 2:95cv079 AS.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 7th Circuit. United States District Court of Northern District of Indiana
    • November 29, 1995
    ...(1994); Lewis v. Huch, 964 F.2d 670, 671 (7th Cir.1992); see 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d)(8) (1994). In Perri v. Director, Dep't of Corrections, 817 F.2d 448 (7th Cir.), cert. denied sub nom. Perri v. Lane, 484 U.S. 843, 108 S.Ct. 135, 98 L.Ed.2d 92 (1987), the Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circu......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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