Young v. Enloe
MEMORANDUM Opinion and Order Signed by the Honorable Sharon Johnson Coleman on 1/27/2017:Mailed notice(rth, )
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF ILLINOIS
) Case No. 16-cv-3386
) Judge Sharon Johnson Coleman
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
Stephen Young petitions this Court for a writ of habeas corpus based on alleged
constitutional defects in his conviction and sentence. For the reasons set forth below, Young’s
petition  is denied.
Because Young does not present clear and convincing evidence challenging the facts set
forth in the Illinois Appellate Court’s opinion, those facts are presumed to be correct for the
purpose of habeas review and are adopted as set forth below. See 28 U.S.C. § 2254(e)(1); Rever v.
Acevedo, 590 F.3d 533, 537 (7th Cir. 2010).
Following a bench trial, Young was found guilty of heinous battery, aggravated domestic
battery, and aggravated battery. Young was sentenced to concurrent terms of six, three, and two
years in prison, respectively, with corresponding terms of mandatory supervised release. At trial, the
victim, Christopher Hall, testified that he had dated Young for three years, but that their relationship
had ended in 2009. On March 21, 2010 at 10:45 a.m., Hall testified that he heard someone knocking
on the back door of his house. When he answered the door, he testified that Young was at the door
wearing his work uniform. Young and Hall argued, and Hall told Young that he did not have time
to talk to him. At that point, Young reached into his right jacket pocket, removed a small bottle,
and splashed the contents of the bottle onto Hall’s neck, back, shoulder, and chest. Young then fled
the scene. Hall testified that the liquid in the bottle caused a burning sensation where it had
contacted his skin. He called 911, and was subsequently transported to the hospital.
At trial, Hall further testified that after the preliminary hearing, he had gone to the Cook
County Jail to visit Young. Hall explained that Young looked like he had been in a fight. Hall stated
that he had still had feelings for Young at that time, and accordingly had tried to help him get out of
jail by writing Young a letter attributing the attack to Young’s cousin “Jonathan.” At trial, however,
Hall reaffirmed that it was in fact Young who had attacked him.
The responding police officer testified that Hall had told her that he was attacked by Young,
and had given her his description and address. The officer also testified that she had found an
empty red box labelled for the disinfectant Creolin in the yard of Hall’s house.
The responding paramedic testified that when he arrived at the incident, Hall was wearing a
shirt that was soiled and emanating a foul odor. He observed that Hall was in pain and had redness
around his neck. After Hall’s shirt was removed, the paramedic observed that Hall had suffered first
degree burns on his chest, back, and arm.
The parties stipulated that, if called to testify, the emergency room doctor who treated Hall
would testify that Hall presented with chemical burns and acidosis covering his left shoulder, mid
upper back, left neck, posterior upper arm, and left elbow region, caused by a liquid disinfectant
named Creolin. The doctor would also have testified that Hall had informed him that he was
assaulted by his ex-boyfriend with a bottle containing a chemical. Finally, the doctor would have
testified that he diagnosed Hall with “first degree burns which were caused by a chemical agent,”
which was consistent with the version of events given by Hall.
The defense presented the testimony of Young’s supervisor that on March 21, 2010 Young
was working as a patrolling security officer at the Northwestern Women’s Hospital. The supervisor
explained that patrol officers move throughout the building to which they are assigned and that a
computer system logs when each officer uses their ID card to open electronic locks in the hospital.
On the day in question, he testified that Young had swiped his card 13 times between 7:06 AM and
2:48 PM. On cross-examination, however, he admitted that Young’s card had not been swiped
between 8:22 AM and 11:36 AM. The state then asked the court to take judicial notice of the
distance from the hospital to Hall’s house, which was approximately 17 miles.
The trial court found Hall guilty of heinous battery, aggravated domestic battery, and
aggravated battery. In doing so, the trial court acknowledged Hall’s conflicting statement in his
letter to Young but stated that it believed Young had committed the crime. With respect to the
alibi, the trial court stated:
There is no doubt there is certainly a window and I did take judicial
notice of the distance. I'm familiar with the area downtown and I'm
familiar with the area of Bellwood and there's a three-hour window
here for travel. 8:22 was a swipe and the next swipe is not until
11:36. We're talking even more than three hours.
The trial court accordingly rejected the partial alibi evidence and found that Young was guilty of the
Young subsequently appealed his conviction to the Illinois Appellate Court, asserting that (1)
there was insufficient evidence to support his conviction, (2) he did not receive a fair trial because
the trial court took into consideration its personal knowledge of the travel time between Young’s
workplace and Hall’s house, and (3) his convictions for domestic battery and aggravated battery
must be vacated because they violated the Illinois one-act, one-crime rule.
The Illinois Appellate Court found that there was sufficient evidence to support Young’s
conviction. It further found that Young’s argument about the trial court’s use of its personal
knowledge had been forfeited, and that there was no basis for plain error review. The court,
however, did agree with Young’s arguments concerning the one-act, one-crime rule, and accordingly
vacated Young’s convictions for domestic battery and aggravated battery. Young filed a petition for
leave to appeal, which the Illinois Supreme Court denied. Young subsequently filed the present
petition, asserting that (1) the evidence was insufficient to convict him of heinous battery; (2) the
trial court relied on evidence outside of the record; and (3) his conviction for heinous battery also
had to be vacated under the one-act, one-crime rule.
The Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act (AEDPA) provides for habeas corpus
relief when, as a result of a state court decision, a criminal defendant is “in custody in violation of
the Constitution or laws or treaties of the United States.” 28 U.S.C. § 2254(a). A Federal court can
grant a writ of habeas corpus only if the state court’s decision constituted an unreasonable
application of clearly established federal law or an unreasonable determination of the facts in light of
the evidence presented in that proceeding. Id.
Young first contends that the evidence at trial was insufficient to support his conviction for
heinous battery. A court considering the sufficiency of the evidence underlying a defendant’s
conviction must determine whether any rational trier of fact, construing the evidence in the light
most favorable to the state, could have found the elements of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt.
Jackson v. Virginia, 443 U.S. 307, 319, 99 S.Ct. 2781, 61 L.Ed.2d 560 (1979), superseded on other grounds
by statute, Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act, Pub.L. 104-132, 110 Stat. 1214 (1996).
Because it is undisputed that the Illinois Appellate Court applied the proper legal standard, the
question before this Court is thus whether or not that court’s application of the standard was
objectively reasonable. McFowler v. Jaimet, 349 F.3d 436, 446 (7th Cir. 2003). Accordingly, in order
for Young to prevail this Court would need to find that it was objectively unreasonable for the
Illinois Appellate Court to conclude that a rational trier of fact, after viewing the evidence in the
light most favorable to the state, could have found the essential elements of the alleged crimes
beyond a reasonable doubt. Id. at 447.
Based on the facts before it, this Court cannot conclude that it was objectively unreasonable
for the Illinois Appellate court to decide that a rational trier of fact could have found the essential
elements of heinous battery beyond a reasonable doubt. At trial, Hall consistently testified that it
was Young who attacked him. Although that testimony conflicted with Hall’s statement in his letter
to Young, Hall plausibly explained the conflict between that letter and his sworn testimony.
Young’s alibi, moreover, was only a partial alibi. Young did not swipe his ID card for a three hour
period, and three hours would have been sufficient time for Young to travel to and from Hall’s
house. Moreover, Hall testified that Young was wearing his work uniform, a fact consistent with the
theory that Young had left work during the day. Taking all of these facts in the light most favorable
to the prosecution, it was objectively reasonable for the Illinois Appellate Court to conclude that a
rational trier of fact could have found Young guilty of heinous battery.
Young also contends that the trial court violated his due process rights by taking into
consideration the judge’s personal knowledge of the travel time between Hall’s home and Young’s
workplace. Young, however, failed to object to the judge’s use of his personal knowledge regarding
the travel time between Hall’s home and Young’s workplace at trial or in his post-trial motions. As a
result, when Young raised that claim on appeal the appellate court held that Young’s claim had not
been properly preserved and therefore was forfeited. Under Illinois law, a claim is forfeited when
the defendant does not “object to the error at trial and raise the error in a motion for a new trial
before the trial court.” People v. McLaurin, 922 N.E.2d 344, 349, 235 Ill.2d 478 (2009) (citing People v.
Enoch, 522 N.E.2d 1124, 1129, 122 Ill.2d 176 (1988)).
When a state court denies a petitioner’s claim based on an independent and adequate state
law ground, that claim is considered to be procedurally defaulted and is not subject to habeas review.
A state law ground is independent of the federal issue when it provides an independent basis for the
disposition of the case such that the court does not actually address the merits of the federal
question. Kaczmarek v. Rednour, 627 F.3d 586, 592 (7th Cir. 2010). A state law ground is adequate
when it has been proclaimed prior to the court’s ruling and regularly followed by the state’s courts.
Id. at 592. When a state court decides a claim on an independent and adequate state law ground it
does not reach, and therefore is incapable of having misapplied, federal law. Szabo v. Walls, 313 F.3d
392, 395-96 (7th Cir. 2002). Illinois’ forfeiture rule is a well-established rule of state law that
provided an independent ground to resolve Young’s due process claim. Accordingly, that claim is
procedurally defaulted. McLaurin, 922 N.E.2d at 349.
There are limited circumstances in which a federal court will proceed with habeas review
notwithstanding a procedural default. Lee v. Kemna, 534 U.S. 362, 363, 122 S.Ct. 877, 151 L.Ed.2d
820 (2002). Specifically, a procedural default may be overlooked when the petitioner demonstrates
both cause for the default and prejudice based on that default or when the petitioner establishes that
the denial of relief will result in a miscarriage of justice. Wainwright v. Sykes, 433 U.S. 72, 86-87, 97
S.Ct. 2497, 53 L.Ed.2d 594 (1977); Murray v. Carrier, 477 U.S. 478, 495-96, 106 S.Ct. 2639, 91
L.Ed.2d 397 (1986), superseded on other grounds by statute, Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty
Act, Pub.L. 104-132, 110 Stat. 1214 (1996).
Young does not allege the existence of cause and prejudice. See Murray, 477 U.S. at 488
(recognizing that in order to establish cause a petitioner must identify an external impediment that
prevented his claim from being presented in the trial court). Young does contend, however, that if
his claim is not considered a fundamental miscarriage of justice will result. In order to establish that
a miscarriage of justice will occur, a petitioner must establish their actual innocence by
demonstrating that, based all of the available evidence, no reasonable factfinder would have
convicted them. Schlup v. Delo, 513 U.S. 298, 327-29, 115 S.Ct. 851, 130 L.Ed.2d 808 (1995),
superseded on other grounds by statute, Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act, Pub.L. 104-132,
110 Stat. 1214 (1996). Because Young does not allege the existence of any evidence that was not
considered at trial, this Court looks to the evidence at trial to assess whether a reasonable factfinder
could have convicted him. As this Court previously discussed in the context of Young’s sufficiency
of the evidence claim, however, this Court is convinced that the evidence at trial was such that a
reasonable factfinder could have found Young guilty of the crimes alleged. Accordingly, this Court
will not consider Young’s procedurally defaulted due process claim.
Finally, Young contends that the Illinois Appellate Court violated his due process rights by
failing to vacate his heinous battery conviction based on the one-act, one-crime rule when it vacated
his other two convictions. It is well settled, however, that an error of state law is not a violation of
the federal Due Process Clause. See Jones v. Thieret, 846 F.2d 457, 459 (7th Cir. 1988). As other
courts in this district have explained, the one act-one crime rule is an Illinois rule that prevents a
defendant from being convicted of more than one offense based on a single underlying physical act.
U.S. ex Rel. King v. Cahill-Masching, 169 F.Supp.2d 849, 854-55 (N.D.Ill. 2001). Because the one actone crime rule is a rule of Illinois state law and not a federal law, its violation is not cognizable on
habeas review. Id. at 855. Accordingly, Young’s petition for a writ of habeas corpus is denied.
When a court dismisses a habeas petition, it must issue or deny a certificate of appealability.
In order for a certificate of appealability to issue, the applicant must have made a substantial
showing of the denial of a constitutional right, such that reasonable jurists could debate whether the
petition should have been resolved in a different manner or that the issues presented were adequate
to deserve encouragement to proceed further. Slack v. McDaniel, 529 U.S. 473, 484, 120 S.Ct. 1595,
146 L.Ed.2d 542 (2000). When a habeas petition is dismissed on procedural grounds, the petitioner
must additionally show that a reasonable jurist would find it debatable whether the district court was
correct in its procedural ruling. Id.
For the reasons stated in this order, this Court finds that Young has not made a substantial
showing of the denial of his constitutional rights as he has not demonstrated that a reasonable trier
of fact could debate either this court’s procedural rulings or its resolution of his constitutional
claims. Accordingly, this Court declines to issue a certificate of appealability.
For the foregoing reasons, Young’s amended petition for a writ of habeas corpus  is
denied and a certificate of appealability does not enter.
IT IS SO ORDERED.
Date: January 27, 2017
SHARON JOHNSON COLEMAN
United States District Court Judge
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