U.S. ex rel. Hinton v. Snyder

Citation128 F.Supp.2d 1165
Decision Date24 January 2001
Docket NumberNo. 00 C 1980.,00 C 1980.
PartiesUNITED STATES of America ex rel. Leonard HINTON, Petitioner, v. Donald SNYDER, Director, Department of Corrections, State of Illinois, Respondent.
CourtU.S. District Court — Northern District of Illinois

Pamela M. Leeming, Cook County Public Defender's Office, Chicago, IL, for Petitioner.

Michael M. Glick, Illinois Attorney General's Office, Chicago, IL, for Defendant.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

BUCKLO, District Judge.

I.

Mr. Hinton was arrested on November 25, 1983 on a warrant for aggravated battery.1 While in custody in the Area 2 police station in Chicago, Illinois, he was questioned about three unrelated murders. Mr. Hinton alleges that he was subjected to torture at Area 2, including being slapped in the face twenty to thirty times, kicked in the stomach, hit in the chin with a gun (causing him to bleed on the jersey he was wearing), suffocated with a plastic bag placed over his head, starved and electrically shocked in the genitals. Among his questioners was Lt. Jon Burge of the Chicago Police Department, an officer who subsequently was fired because of allegations that he had tortured many prisoners to get confessions. See David Jackson, 13 years of cop torture alleged, Chicago Tribune, Feb. 8, 1992, News, at 1. After three days in custody, Mr. Hinton finally gave in and signed a written statement confessing to the murders. At the hearing on his motion to suppress his confession, Mr. Hinton testified about the alleged abuse and the police officers who testified denied that any abuse had occurred. The circuit court denied his motion, calling it a "credibility question."

Mr. Hinton was tried at a bench trial, and he testified on his own behalf about the alleged abuse, as well as his claim of self defense. On the stand, he admitted that his confession was true, except for part in which he said that one of the victims owed him $200. The jersey he was wearing when he was interrogated was marked for identification, but it was not introduced into evidence. He identified a mark on the shoulder of the jersey as being his own blood from when the police hit him under the chin, but he admitted on cross-examination that it was the same shirt he had worn on the night of the murders.

On September 13, 1985, Mr. Hinton was convicted of six counts of murder for killing three people, and sentenced to six concurrent life sentences. He appealed his sentence directly, and the Illinois appellate court vacated three of the murder convictions, but affirmed Mr. Hinton's convictions and sentences on the remaining three counts. He did not appeal this decision directly to the Illinois Supreme Court, but he later filed a post-conviction petition in the Circuit Court of Cook County that was dismissed without an evidentiary hearing. The dismissal was affirmed by the Illinois Appellate Court. Mr. Hinton filed a petition for leave to appeal to the Illinois Supreme Court, but the Court denied the petition on March 31, 1999. On March 31, 2000, he filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus under 28 U.S.C. § 2254, raising four claims. His petition is dismissed in part because he has procedurally defaulted three of his claims, and I order further briefing on his remaining claim.

II.

Before I may reach the merits of a federal petition for habeas relief from a state prisoner, I must "ensure that the habeas corpus petitioner has overcome two procedural hurdles, exhaustion and procedural default." Spreitzer v. Schomig, 219 F.3d 639, 644 (7th Cir.2000). "Exhaustion" refers to issues that have not been presented to the state court but still may be presented. Resnover v. Pearson, 965 F.2d 1453, 1458 (7th Cir.1992). "Procedural default," on the other hand, "occurs when a claim could have been but was not presented to the state court and cannot, at the time that the federal court reviews the habeas petition, be presented to the state court." Id. One type of procedural default occurs when the prisoner raises claims in his federal habeas petition that he did not raise during the course of the state proceedings. Spreitzer, 219 F.3d at 644. The Supreme Court recently held the failure to present claims in a petition for leave to appeal to the Illinois Supreme Court constituted procedural default because the prisoner did not raise his claim in all proceedings "available" to him. O'Sullivan v. Boerckel, 526 U.S. 838, 847-48, 119 S.Ct. 1728, 144 L.Ed.2d 1 (1999) (where discretionary review is available, prisoner must have raised habeas claims in petition for leave to appeal to avoid procedural default). The Seventh Circuit has applied this rule retroactively. Rodriguez v. Scillia, 193 F.3d 913, 916 (7th Cir.1999).

III.

The State concedes that Mr. Hinton has exhausted his state court remedies, so I need only consider the question of procedural default.2 The purpose of the rules of procedural default is to give state courts an opportunity to correct constitutional violations. Momient-El v. DeTella, 118 F.3d 535, 540 (7th Cir.1997). "To this end, a habeas petitioner must present his claims in such a way as to "fairly alert the state court to any applicable [federal] constitutional grounds for the claim."" Bocian v. Godinez, 101 F.3d 465, 469 (7th Cir.1996) (alterations in original). This is the principle of "fair presentment": "both the operative facts and the `controlling legal principles' must be submitted to [the state] court." Verdin v. O'Leary, 972 F.2d 1467, 1474 (7th Cir.1992). The relevant question is whether the "substance of the federal claim" has been fairly presented, not whether the prisoner has cited "book and verse of the federal constitution." Bocian, 101 F.3d at 469 (citing Verdin). I should seek to "avoid hypertechnicality" in determining whether a claim has been fairly presented. Verdin, 972 F.2d at 1474.

A.

In his Petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus, Mr. Hinton claims that: (1) the police violated his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination by beating and torturing him to obtain his involuntary confession; (2) the prosecution violated his Fifth Amendment due process rights under Brady v. Maryland, 373 U.S. 83, 83 S.Ct. 1194, 10 L.Ed.2d 215 (1963), by failing to disclose allegedly exculpatory information about prior instances of beatings and torture in the same police district; (3) his Sixth Amendment right to effective assistance of counsel was violated when his trial counsel failed to investigate instances of police torture in preparation for the suppression hearing on his confession; and (4) his Sixth Amendment right to effective assistance of counsel was violated when his appellate counsel failed to challenge the voluntariness of his confession.

After Boerckel, I may only consider Mr. Hinton's claims on their merits if he raised them in his petition for leave to appeal to the Illinois Supreme Court. See 526 U.S. at 848, 119 S.Ct. 1728. In his petition for leave to appeal to the Illinois Supreme Court, he raised only two claims: that (1) Mr. Hinton's blood-stained jersey that he wore during his interrogation was sufficient proof of an injury to warrant a hearing on the merits of his involuntary confession claim; and (2) newly discovered evidence of other incidents of police torture constituted "special circumstances" sufficient to permit reconsideration of issues decided at the suppression hearing. Both questions concern the trial court's denial of an evidentiary hearing on his state post-conviction petition, rather than the merits of the substantive claims Mr. Hinton brought in that petition.3

Mr. Hinton did not fairly present the question of ineffective assistance of counsel, trial or appellate, in his petition for leave to appeal. He raised neither the operative facts of an ineffective assistance claim nor the governing legal principles, as required by Verdin. 972 F.2d at 1474. He does not mention the Sixth Amendment or the governing federal case (Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668, 104 S.Ct. 2052, 80 L.Ed.2d 674 (1984)), nor does he use any language invoking the right to adequate representation. He has not given the state courts a meaningful opportunity to pass on the substance of his ineffective assistance of counsel claims, so they are procedurally barred.

Nor has Mr. Hinton preserved his Brady claim. He refers to the internal police investigation reports regarding police brutality, and says that they were not available at trial, but he made no allegations that the police withheld them, or that they were exculpatory evidence. Even if he had presented the operative facts, he failed to identify the controlling legal principle. Although he mentioned the Fifth Amendment in his petition for leave to appeal, he referred to it in the context of the right against self-incrimination, not his due process rights to exculpatory information. In Bocian v. Godinez, the Seventh Circuit held that a prisoner had not fairly presented his void-for-vagueness claim where, in his brief before the state court, he merely mentioned the Fourteenth Amendment and cited one Supreme Court case for a proposition other than vagueness. 101 F.3d at 469. The Court held that Bocian had not fairly presented the void-for-vagueness issue to the state court, although he had alluded to the Due Process Clause by reference to the Fourteenth Amendment. See id. Mere allusion was not enough, however; the Court held that the prisoner must "sketch an argument explaining why the conviction violates the Due Process Clause." Id. (emphasis added). Mr. Hinton did not "sketch an argument" explaining his Brady claim, so it is procedurally barred.

Mr. Hinton did sketch such an argument, however, for his involuntary confession claim. He described the alleged beating and torture he suffered at the hands of the police, and he articulated his argument that the Federal Constitution does not permit police to beat suspects to extract confessions. He mentioned the Fifth...

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4 cases
  • U.S. ex rel. Hinton v. Snyder
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Northern District of Illinois
    • 22 May 2002
    ...claims as procedurally barred. I granted the motion on all but one claim, that his confession was coerced, see Hinton v. Snyder, 128 F.Supp.2d 1165 (N.D.Ill. 2001), which is before me now on the merits. Mr. Hinton seeks an evidentiary hearing to present new evidence related to his allegatio......
  • Holloway v. Jones
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Eastern District of Michigan
    • 28 September 2001
    ...could establish actual innocence, because one who kills in self-defense is not guilty of murder, See United States ex. rel. Hinton v. Snyder, 128 F.Supp.2d 1165, 1171-1172 (N.D.Ill. 2001), petitioner has failed to offer new evidence that he acted in self-defense when he shot the victim. The......
  • McLaughlin v. Moore
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — District of New Hampshire
    • 22 May 2001
    ...makes sense. How can it be unconstitutional to execute someone who is innocent, but constitutional to jail him? Hinton v. Snyder, 128 F.Supp.2d 1165, 1171 (N.D.Ill.2001) (citations omitted). See also Simpson v. Matesanz, 175 F.3d 200, 210 (1st Cir.1999) (suggesting that the "actual innocenc......
  • Holloway v. Jones, Civil No. 00-73864-DT (E.D. Mich. 9/28/2001), Civil No. 00-73864-DT.
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Eastern District of Michigan
    • 28 September 2001
    ...actual innocence, because one who kills in self-defense is not guilty of murder, See United States ex. rel. Hinton v. Snyder, 128 F. Supp.2d 1165, 1171-1172 (N.D.Ill. 2001), petitioner has failed to offer new evidence that he acted in self-defense when he shot the victim. The new evidence w......

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