Maury v. Pfister et al
MEMORANDUM Opinion and Order signed by the Honorable Edmond E. Chang. For the reasons stated in the Opinion, the habeas petition 1 is denied and no certificate of appealability shall issue. A separate AO-450 judgment shall be entered. Status hearing of 12/15/2017 is vacated. Civil case terminated. Emailed and mailed notice(slb, )
United States District Court
FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF ILLINOIS
RANDY PFISTER, WARDEN,
STATEVILLE CORRECTIONAL CENTER, )
Judge Edmond E. Chang
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
Robert Maury filed this amended petition for a writ of habeas corpus under
28 U.S.C. § 2254.1 See R. 9, Am. Habeas Pet. at 1.2 He challenges his 2011 Illinois
state conviction on two counts of predatory criminal sexual assault. See id. For the
reasons discussed, this Court denies Maury’s petition and declines to issue a
certificate of appealability.
In reviewing a petition for habeas corpus under § 2254, a federal court must
presume that the factual findings of the state court that decided the merits of the
case are correct. See 28 U.S.C. § 2254(e)(1); Coleman v. Hardy, 690 F.3d 811, 815
one point in his reply brief, Maury appears to characterize his petition under 28
U.S.C. § 2255. See R. 23, Petitioner’s Reply at 1. But elsewhere in the reply brief he
characterizes the petition as a § 2254 petition. See id. Because Maury is a state prisoner,
his petition is covered by § 2254. This Court has subject matter jurisdiction over this case
under 28 U.S.C. § 2241.
2Citations to the record are noted as “R.” followed by the docket number and, when
necessary, the page or paragraph number.
(7th Cir. 2015). The petitioner can overcome this presumption by clear and
convincing evidence. See 28 U.S.C. § 2254(e)(1). Because Maury has not presented
clear and convincing evidence to rebut this presumption, this Court adopts the facts
set forth by the Illinois Appellate Court on direct review. See R. 20, State Court
Record Exh. A, Direct Review Opinion. The state court record lodged with this
Court also supplements the facts. See Rules Governing Section 2254 Cases in the
United States District Courts, Rule 5 (2010); Todd v. Schomig, 283 F.3d 842, 846
(7th Cir. 2002); United States ex rel. Parish v. Hodge, 73 F. Supp. 3d 895, 899 n.1
(N.D. Ill. 2014).
I. Factual Background
A. Arrest and Trial
1. The Crimes
T.M. and A.M. lived with their grandmother, Catherine M., in 2003. See
Direct Review Opinion ¶ 3. Sometime that year, Robert MauryCatherine’s
boyfriendmoved into Catherine’s home. See id. In the summer of 2003, Maury
sexually assaulted T.M. (who was eleven years old at the time), by forcing her to
engage in oral sex. See id. ¶ 11. On a separate occasion that summer, Maury beat
A.M. (who was ten) and sexually assaulted him by forcing him to engage in oral sex.
See id. ¶ 12. These assaults followed an attempt earlier that summer in which
Maury had asked for oral sex from T.M. and she had run away to avoid it. See id.
¶ 11. T.M. testified that Maury made threats against her life if she told anyone
about the assault, and A.M. testified that Maury had beaten him on prior occasions.
See id. ¶¶ 11-12. The children did not tell Catherine about the assaults and threats.
2. Investigation and Arrest
The day after Maury assaulted her, T.M. reported the assault to her mother,
Tashnia M., who did not live with the children. See id. ¶ 11. Tashnia confronted
Catherine, who denied the accusations. See id. ¶ 13. Tashnia then called the police.
See id. Detective Nolan of the Chicago Police Department began investigating the
crimes in July 2003. See id. ¶ 14. He spoke with both children and arranged for
them to do a “victim-sensitive interview” with Karen Stelnicki at the Chicago
Children’s Advocacy Center in August 2003. See id. He watched that interview
through a two-way mirror but did not participate. See id. In February 2004, Maury
was arrested. See id.
3. First Trial and Remand
The State first tried Maury for the assault of T.M. in the Circuit Court of
Cook County. See id. ¶ 6. In 2006, a jury convicted Maury of predatory criminal
sexual assault of T.M., and the court sentenced him to natural life imprisonment.
See id. The case for assaulting A.M. continued to pretrial motions in 2008. See id.
¶ 7. On direct appeal in 2009, however, the Illinois Appellate Court vacated Maury’s
first conviction and remanded for a new trial because the trial court had allowed in
too much prior-crimes evidence. See id. ¶ 8; see also People v. Maury, 982 N.E.2d
287 (Ill. App. Ct. Mar. 31, 2009) (Table).
4. Second Trial
The trial court agreed to join the two assault cases in 2009. See Direct Review
Opinion ¶ 9. Shortly before the jury trial, Maury made a request to proceed pro se.
See id. ¶ 10. The trial judge warned him of the seriousness of that step. See id.
Maury met with his counsel, and at the next status hearing, “[Maury] agreed to
continue to be represented by defense counsel.”3 Id. The court held a jury trial on
both counts of predatory criminal sexual assault in 2011. See id. ¶ 11.
At the trial, T.M. and A.M. testified to the sexual assaults described above.
See id. ¶¶ 11-12. Tashnia testified to her confrontation with Catherine and her
interactions with the police. See id. ¶ 13. She also testified that the children
received counseling from the Department of Child and Family Services (DCFS) with
the help of Catherine Byrne, a DCFS child protection investigator. See id. Detective
Nolan testified about his investigation. See id. ¶ 14. Antoinette Murray, a woman
who had previously been sexually assaulted by Maury, gave prior-crimes evidence.
See id. ¶ 15. She testified that Maury, who was her mother’s boyfriend at the time,
had repeatedly forced her to engage in oral sex at the age of fourteen or fifteen in
1986. See id. The State then rested. The trial court admonished Maury of his right
to testify, and Maury elected not to testify. See id. ¶¶ 16, 63.
Maury’s trial counsel called two witnesses. First, he called Catherine Byrne,
who testified that she had visited the children on behalf of DCFS but had not
appears to have made another request to proceed pro se during pretrial
motions in his original prosecution in 2008 for the assault of T.M. See Direct Review
Opinion ¶ 29. But Maury equivocated in that request, saying that what he really wanted
was more input into his counsel’s decisionmaking. See id. Upon questioning by that trial
judge, Maury agreed that it would be “unwise” to proceed pro se. Id.
provided counseling or other services. See id. ¶ 17. Then, he called John Crivellone,
a private investigator, who testified about photographs he had taken of the
defendant, including photographs of Maury’s genitals that allegedly contradicted
the children’s testimony. See id. ¶ 18. During closing argument, the prosecutor
commented on why the children did not remember certain collateral details of the
assaults.4 See id. ¶ 39. In January 2011, the jury convicted Maury on both counts.
See id. ¶ 19.
5. Motions for New Trial
Shortly after the trial, Maury’s trial counsel filed a motion for new trial under
725 ILCS 5/116-1 (1964). See id. ¶ 20. Maury filed his own pro se motion, in
February 2011, for a new trial on the grounds of ineffective assistance of counsel.
See id. He claimed that his counsel (1) failed to investigate Tashnia and the
children’s motives to lie; (2) failed to interview and call Catherine at trial; (3) did
not listen to him throughout the case; and (4) forced him to decide prematurely
whether to testify. Id. Under People v. Krankel, 464 N.E.2d 1045 (Ill. 1984), the trial
court held a hearing in February 2011 to determine if there was enough evidence of
ineffective assistance to justify appointing Maury new counsel to argue his motion
for new trial. See id. The trial court denied Maury’s request for new counsel, denied
Maury’s pro se motion for new trial, and denied Maury’s counseled motion for new
prosecutor said: “Well, you notice that everytime [sic] when [the victims] talk
about what he did to them, when they talk about that, there’s no inconsistencies. That’s
how the mind works. They remember being victimized. They remember what he did to
them. They are not going to remember all of the collateral things that happened.” Direct
Review Opinion ¶ 39 (emphases omitted).
trial. See id. The court sentenced Maury to mandatory life imprisonment, and
Maury filed notices of appeal through counsel. See id. ¶¶ 20-21.
B. Direct Review in State Court
1. Direct Appeal to the Illinois Appellate Court
Maury presented three grounds for relief on direct appeal to the Illinois
Appellate Court (he was represented by appellate counsel). R. 20, State Court
Record Exh. B, Direct Appeal Br. at 2. First, Maury argued that the trial court
denied him his Sixth Amendment right to proceed pro se. See id. Second, he argued
that the prosecutor improperly bolstered the victims’ testimony during the State’s
closing argument. See id. Third, Maury argued that the trial court improperly
denied his request for new counsel to argue his motion for new trial after the
Krankel hearing. See id. at 2, 22-23. The appellate court denied relief on all three
grounds. Direct Review Opinion ¶ 66.
The appellate court rejected Maury’s first ground for relief (that he wanted to
proceed pro se) because Maury had forfeited this issue by failing to raise it in a
motion for new trial. See id. ¶ 26; see also People v. Herron, 830 N.E.2d 467, 472-73
(Ill. 2005). The appellate court also held that there was no plain error because
Maury never clearly asserted his right to proceed pro se. See Direct Review Opinion
¶¶ 29-31. Both times Maury requested to proceed pro se, he did not clearly and
unequivocally waive the right to counsel, and he abandoned both requests soon
after making them. See id. ¶¶ 30-31.
The appellate court held that Maury also forfeited his improper-bolstering
claim by failing to object at trial and by failing to include it in his motion for a new
trial. See id. ¶ 37; see also Herron, 830 N.E.2d at 472-73. The appellate court further
held that there was no plain error because the prosecutor’s remarks were premised
on reasonable inferences from the record and also were an invited response to
defense counsel’s contentions in closing argument. See Direct Review Opinion
The appellate court rejected Maury’s third claim, holding that there was no
error in not appointing new counsel after the Krankel hearing, even under de novo
review. See id. ¶ 49. The appellate court rejected each of Maury’s arguments. First,
it held that trial counsel had effectively prepared for the trial and that the
witnesses’ alleged motives to lie were speculative. See id. ¶ 51. Second, it held that
trial counsel employed a reasonable trial strategy in not calling Catherine and, even
if that was a mistake, it was harmless. See id. ¶¶ 53, 55. Third, it held that trial
counsel had listened to Maury’s concerns and adequately prepared for trial. See id.
¶ 59. Fourth, it held thatalthough Maury was improperly forced to choose
whether to testify before the start of the defense’s case-in-chiefthe error was
harmless because the State presented overwhelming evidence and Maury was
convicted at his first trial despite testifying. See id. ¶ 63. The appellate court denied
relief on all counts. See id. ¶ 66.
2. Petition for Leave to Appeal to the Illinois Supreme Court
Next, Maury filed a counseled Petition for Leave to Appeal to the Illinois
Supreme Court. See R. 20, State Court Record Exh. E, Direct Review PLA at 2.
Maury raised two arguments in his petition. First, he argued that he had been
denied his right to proceed pro se. See id. Second, he argued that the trial court
improperly denied his right to new counsel after the Krankel hearing.5 See id. He
did not raise the improper-bolstering claim. See id. The Illinois Supreme Court
denied leave to appeal. See R. 20, State Court Record Exh. F, Denial of Direct
Review PLA at 1.
C. State Postconviction Review
1. Postconviction in the Circuit Court of Cook County
In May 2014, Maury filed a pro se petition for postconviction relief, 725 ILCS
5/122-1, in the Circuit Court of Cook County. R. 20, State Court Record Exh. G,
Postconviction Appellate Opinion ¶ 4. The petition asserted five claims of ineffective
assistance of counsel. See id. Maury claimed that trial counsel was ineffective by (1)
failing to interview and call Brenda Forehand of DCFS, (2) failing to interview and
call Karen Stelnicki of the Chicago Children’s Advocacy Center, (3) failing to crossexamine Detective Nolan about bias against Maury, and (4) failing to properly
contest the admission of prior-crimes evidence. See id. Maury also claimed his
appellate counsel was ineffective for failing to raise those four issues on direct
the Petition for Leave to Appeal, Maury appears to have split his Krankel
argument into three reasons for granting relief. See Direct Review PLA at 2. Two of those
reasons concern errors in the trial court’s decision not to appoint new counsel; the third
calls attention to a split in the Illinois Appellate Courts. See id.
appeal. See id. The court dismissed the petition as “frivolous and patently without
2. Postconviction Appeal to the Illinois Appellate Court
Maury appealed all five claims to the Illinois Appellate Court, and counsel
was appointed to represent him. See id. But then the appointed counsel filed a
motion under Pennsylvania v. Finley, 481 U.S. 551, 555 (1987), to withdraw from
the representation on the grounds that the appeal was frivolous. See id. ¶ 5. The
appellate court granted that motion. See id. ¶ 6. It summarily dismissed the appeal
because it “f[ound] no issues of arguable merit” after reviewing the record, the
Finley brief, and Maury’s response. Id.
Appellate counsel’s Finley brief discussed in detail why Maury’s claims were
meritless. See R. 20, State Court Record Exh. H, Finley Br. at 14-23. The brief
argued that trial counsel made a valid strategic decision not to call Forehand
because her testimony would not have helped Maury, defeating his first claim. See
id. at 11. On his second claim, the brief argued that trial counsel made a valid
strategic decision not to call Stelnicki because she could not have impeached T.M.
on any material point and could not have helped establish a consent defense. See id.
at 11-12. Next, the brief argued that Maury’s claim that Detective Nolan was biased
against him was pure speculation, undermining his third claim. See id. at 12. On
Maury’s fourth claim, the brief argued that trial counsel made an objectively
reasonable attempt to exclude Antoinette’s trial testimony. See id. at 12-13. And
finally, the brief argued that appellate counsel did not have to raise every
conceivable argument and noted that Maury’s claims for ineffective assistance of
trial counsel were frivolous, undercutting his fifth claim. See id. at 13.
3. Petition for Leave to Appeal to the Illinois Supreme Court
Following the appellate affirmance of the postconviction-petition denial,
Maury made an uncounseled Petition for Leave to Appeal to the Illinois Supreme
Court. See R. 20, State Court Record Exh. J, Postconviction PLA at 1. He continued
to raise the same five grounds. See id. The Supreme Court denied him leave to
appeal. See R.20, Exh. K, Denial of Post-conviction PLA at 1.
D. Federal Habeas Corpus Petition
After concluding state post-conviction review, Maury filed a petition for
habeas corpus in federal district court in January 2017 and amended his petition in
April 2017. See R. 1, Habeas Pet. at 1; Am. Habeas Pet. at 1. The amended habeas
petition presents eight grounds for relief (although Maury characterizes them as
seven grounds): three trial errors, four claims of ineffective assistance of trial
counsel, and one claim of ineffective assistance of appellate counsel. See Am.
Habeas Pet. at 5-48. Maury also seeks an evidentiary hearing on some of the
grounds. See id. at 9, 47, 57.
The grounds presented in the petition are as follows:
1. The trial court denied Maury his Sixth Amendment right to proceed pro se.
See id. at 5-6.
2. The prosecutor improperly bolstered the victims’ testimony in closing
argument, violating due process. See id. at 6.
3. The trial court improperly denied Maury his rights related to the post-trial
Krankel hearing. This ground lacks some clarity. At some points, Maury
describes it as denial of a right to counsel after the Krankel hearing; at other
points, he describes it as a denial of a right to counsel during the Krankel
hearing. See id. at 19-20. He appears to characterize this claim as arising
from the Sixth Amendment. See id.
4. Maury’s trial counsel was ineffective for failing to investigate or call Brenda
Forehand. See id. at 20.
5. Maury’s trial counsel was ineffective for failing to investigate or call Karen
Stelnicki. See id. at 25-26.6
6. Maury’s trial counsel was ineffective for failing to cross-examine Detective
Nolan about alleged bias against Maury. See id. at 36.
7. Maury’s trial counsel was ineffective for failing to properly contest the
admission of prior-crimes evidence. See id. at 41.
8. Maury’s appellate counsel was ineffective for failing to bring any of his
ineffective assistance of trial counsel claims on direct appeal. See id. at 48.
The State answered the petition, and Maury filed a reply brief. R. 19, State’s
Answer at 1; Reply at 1.
II. Legal Standard
A state petitioner seeking a writ of habeas corpus in federal court must first
exhaust remedies available in state court. Antiterrorism and Effective Death
appears to characterize counsel’s alleged failures regarding Forehand and
Stelnicki as one ground for relief. See Am. Habeas Pet. at 23-24. But his claims really
concern two separate instances of alleged ineffectiveness.
Penalty Act of 1996 (AEDPA), Pub. L. No. 104-132, 110 Stat. 1214 (codified at
28 U.S.C. § 2254(b)(1)(A) (2012)). The purpose of the exhaustion requirement is to
“giv[e] the State the opportunity to pass upon and correct alleged violations of its
prisoners’ federal rights.” Cheeks v. Gaetz, 571 F.3d 680, 685 (7th Cir. 2009)
(quoting Baldwin v. Reese, 541 U.S. 27, 29 (2004)). A habeas petitioner must
therefore fully and fairly present his federal claims in one complete round of state
appellate review before filing a federal habeas petition. See O’Sullivan v. Boerckel,
526 U.S. 838, 845 (1999). If a petitioner fails to assert a federal claim properly at
each level of state review, then he procedurally defaults that claim. See Coleman v.
Thompson, 501 U.S. 722, 729 (1991); McDowell v. Lemke, 737 F.3d 476, 482 (7th
A petitioner also procedurally defaults a claim when he fails to raise and
preserve his federal claims in compliance with relevant state procedural rules,
making the state-court default an adequate and independent state ground for
denying federal review. Cone v. Bell, 556 U.S. 449, 465 (2009). A federal court can
only excuse procedural default if the petitioner can demonstrate cause and prejudice
or that the court’s failure to consider the claim would result in a fundamental
miscarriage of justice. See Wainwright v. Sykes, 433 U.S. 72, 91 (1977) (cause and
prejudice); Anderson v. Benik, 471 F.3d 811, 815 (7th Cir. 2006) (same); House v.
Bell, 547 U.S. 518, 536 (2006) (miscarriage of justice); Coleman, 501 U.S. at 750
If the petitioner successfully runs the gauntlets of exhaustion and procedural
default, then the federal court can consider the merits of a habeas claim. But under
AEDPA, a federal court cannot grant habeas relief unless the state court’s decision
was “contrary to, or involved an unreasonable application of, clearly established
Federal law, as determined by the Supreme Court of the United States.” 28 U.S.C.
§ 2254(d)(1). A state court’s decision is “contrary to” clearly established Supreme
Court law “if the state court arrives at a conclusion opposite to that reached by th[e]
[Supreme] Court on a question of law or if the state court decides a case differently
than th[e] Court has on a set of materially indistinguishable facts.” Williams v.
Taylor, 529 U.S. 362, 413 (2000). A state court’s decision is an “unreasonable
application” of Supreme Court precedent if it identified the correct legal rule but
unreasonably applied the controlling law to the facts of the case. See id. at 407-08,
413. “This is a difficult standard to meet” because unreasonable means “something
like lying well outside the boundaries of permissible differences of opinion.” Jackson
v. Frank, 348 F.3d 658, 662 (7th Cir. 2003) (quoting Hardaway v. Young, 302 F.3d
757, 762 (7th Cir. 2002)).
A. Claim One: Denial of Right to Proceed Pro Se
Maury has procedurally defaulted his claim that the trial court denied him
his Sixth Amendment right to proceed pro se. True, a trial court generally cannot
deny a criminal defendant the right to waive access to counsel and proceed pro se.
See Faretta v. California, 422 U.S. 806, 835 (1975) (establishing a Sixth Amendment
right to represent yourself). But failure to timely present an issue to the state courts
is a procedural default preventing a federal court from reaching the merits. See
Coleman, 501 U.S. at 750; Woods v. Schwartz, 589 F.3d 368, 373 (7th Cir. 2009).
The State correctly argues that Maury procedurally defaulted this claim by failing
to present it in his motion for a new trial in state court. See State’s Answer at 8-9.
The Illinois courts consider an objection forfeited unless a criminal defendant both
makes it contemporaneously at trial and includes it in his post-trial motion in the
trial court. See People v. Herron, 830 N.E.2d 467, 472-73 (Ill. 2005). Maury failed to
include the objection in his post-trial motion for new trial. See Direct Review
Opinion ¶ 27. This procedural default bars review on the merits. See Coleman, 501
U.S. at 750; Woods, 589 F.3d at 373.
Maury argues that he did not procedurally default the claim because he did
not present it to the Illinois Supreme Court. See Reply at 1-2. Maury actually did
present the ground to the Illinois Supreme Court in his direct review Petition for
Leave to Appeal. See Direct Review PLA at 2. But that was not enough: he was
supposed to have presented the claim in the trial court, but he did not. It was not in
his new-trial motion, and that failure led the Illinois Appellate Court to hold that
the claim was forfeited. Direct Review Op. ¶ 26. The claim was procedurally
Although a federal court can excuse a petitioner’s procedural default for
cause and prejudice, Maury has not argued that there was cause and prejudice, not
in his petition or in his reply brief. See Wainwright v. Sykes, 433 U.S. 72, 91 (1977);
Anderson v. Benik, 471 F.3d 811, 815 (7th Cir. 2006). This Court therefore declines
to analyze whether Maury can excuse his default.
Even if this claim were not procedurally defaulted, it would fail on the merits.
A federal court cannot grant habeas relief unless the state court issued a ruling
“contrary to, or involv[ing] an unreasonable application of, clearly established
Federal law.” 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d)(1). If the state court identified the correct legal
test and applied it in an objectively reasonable manner, then this Court must defer
to that holding. See Williams, 529 U.S. at 412-13. The Illinois Appellate Court
reasonably applied the Sixth Amendment when it held that Maury did not clearly
waive the right to counsel and that, even if he did, he later abandoned that waiver.
See Direct Review Opinion ¶¶ 28-30. Maury equivocated repeatedly about whether
he wanted to represent himself or whether he just wanted more input in his
defense. See id. ¶ 29. The Supreme Court, in contrast, “indulge[s] in every
reasonable presumption against waiver” and requires clear and unequivocal
waivers. Brewer v. Williams, 430 U.S. 387, 404 (1977). And even if a defendant does
make an unequivocal waiver of counsel, he can abandon that waiver by accepting
counsel. See Cain v. Peters, 972 F.2d 748, 750 (7th Cir. 1992). If Maury did waive
the right to counsel in the trial court, then he abandoned that waiver when he
agreed to continue working with counsel. See Direct Review Opinion ¶¶ 29-31. The
state court reasonably applied federal law.
B. Claim Two: Closing Argument Remarks
Maury failed to exhaust his claim that the prosecutor improperly bolstered
the victims’ testimony in closing argument. A federal court cannot grant a state
prisoner habeas relief unless he has exhausted his remedies in state court. See
28 U.S.C. § 2254(b)(1)(A). To exhaust state remedies, a petitioner must fully and
fairly present a claim in one full round of review in the state courts, including
petitioning for discretionary review in the state supreme court. See O’Sullivan v.
Boerckel, 526 U.S. 838, 845 (1999); Benik, 471 F.3d at 814-15. Maury did include
this ground in his direct appeal to the Illinois Appellate Court. See Direct Appeal
Br. at 2. But he failed to include it in his Petition for Leave to Appeal to the Illinois
Supreme Court on direct review. See Direct Review PLA at 2. Maury has thus failed
to exhaust this claim, barring this Court from reaching its merits.7
Maury has not established cause and prejudice to overcome his lack of
exhaustion. Maury argues that his cause is that his appellate counsel was
ineffective in failing to raise the issue in his Petition for Leave to Appeal. See Reply
at 4. To establish cause based on ineffective assistance of counsel, Maury needs to
show that his appellate counsel was objectively ineffective. See Murray, 477 U.S. at
488; see also Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668, 687 (1984) (establishing a twopart objective test for ineffective assistance of counsel). Criminal defendants do not,
a mixture of exhausted and unexhausted claims in one petition
precludes review of the petition. See Lisle v. Pierce, 832 F.3d 778, 785 (7th Cir. 2016) (citing
Rose v. Lundy, 455 U.S. 509 (1982)). District courts can hold a petition in abeyance while a
petitioner returns to state court to exhaust a claim. See Rhines v. Weber, 544 U.S. 269, 27475 (2005). But Maury’s opportunities to exhaust this claim are long past. And it is
unnecessary to have Maury amend his petition to remove unexhausted claims because this
Court denies Maury relief on all grounds.
however, have a right to counselor the derivative right to effective assistance on
discretionary review in a state supreme court. See Ross v. Moffitt, 417 U.S. 600,
614-15 (1974). Thus, any claim that ineffective assistance excuses Maury’s failure to
exhaust must fail. What’s more, Maury cannot demonstrate ineffective assistance
because the choice not to include the improper-bolstering claim in the Petition for
Leave to Appeal was a reasonable appellate strategy based on the strengths of
available claims. See McAfee v. Thurmer, 589 F.3d 353, 356 (7th Cir. 2009) (noting
that it is virtually impossible to challenge strategic decisions). And Maury cannot
establish “actual prejudice,” which requires that an errorjudged in the context of
the whole proceeding“so infected” the proceedings that the result violates due
process. United States v. Frady, 456 U.S. 152, 168-69 (1982) (quoting Henderson v.
Kibbe, 431 U.S. 145, 154 (1977)). Given the weakness of this claim of error and the
strong evidence against Maury, there was no actual prejudice.
Maury also procedurally defaulted the claim by failing to make a
contemporaneous objection at trial. See Direct Review Opinion ¶ 37 (citing Herron,
830 N.E.2d at 472-73 (requiring contemporaneous objection and presentation in
post-trial motion)). Maury even conceded forfeiture on direct review. See id. Maury
seems to change gears in his habeas petition to argue that the failure to object at
trial was not a procedural default. See Reply at 4. But Illinois law requires
defendants to object contemporaneously on pain of forfeiting the issue, and that is
precisely what procedural default is. See Herron, 830 N.E.2d at 472-73. Maury does
not argue that there was cause and prejudice for this default. See Reply at 4. The
Court will thus not address whether that default was somehow excused.
Finally, this Court cannot grant Maury relief on this ground because the
Illinois Appellate Court reasonably construed federal law on direct review. See
§ 2254(d)(1); Williams, 529 U.S. at 412-13. Improper bolstering comes in two forms:
(1) the prosecutor expresses his or her personal opinion on a witness’s credibility,
and (2) the prosecutor implies that facts not before the jury prove the victim is
credible. See United States v. Flournoy, 842 F.3d 524, 529 (7th Cir. 2016). Outside of
those two categories, however, the prosecutor has broad discretion to make
inferences from the record. In this case, as the state court held, the prosecutor
simply made reasonable inferences from the record and from the fact that the
victims were children.8 See Direct Review Opinion ¶ 39. That was an objectively
reasonable application of federal law.
C. Claim Three: Shortcomings in Post-Trial Krankel Hearing
In his amended habeas petition, Maury appears to make two arguments for
relief based on failures in the post-trial Krankel hearing. First, he argues that the
court denied him the right to counsel during the Krankel hearing. See Am. Habeas
Pet. at 18. Second, he argues that the trial court improperly denied him new counsel
after the Krankel hearing (that is, that the Krankel hearing arrived at the wrong
result). See id. at 19. Neither argument merits relief. The first is unexhausted,
procedurally defaulted, and would require making new federal law on habeas
the prosecutor’s statement and its context, see Direct Review Opinion ¶¶ 39-41
and note 5, supra.
review. The second was reasonably adjudicated in the state courts and would
require announcing new federal law on habeas review.
1. Failure to Appoint Counsel for Krankel Hearing
The most in-depth Krankel argument Maury makes is that he was denied a
Sixth Amendment right to counsel during the Krankel hearing. See Am. Habeas
Pet. at 18-19. Illinois courts hold Krankel hearings (named after the Illinois
Supreme Court case that created this type of hearing) after a criminal trial when
the defendant asks for a new trial based on ineffective assistance of trial counsel.
See People v. Krankel, 464 N.E.2d 1045, 1049 (Ill. 1984); People v. Moore,
797 N.E.2d 631, 637-38 (Ill. 2003). The purpose of the hearing is to determine if
there is enough of a factual basis supporting the defendant’s claim to justify
appointing new counsel for a motion for new trial. See Moore, 797 N.E.2d at 637-38.
As is the norm in Krankel proceedings, Maury did not have counsel in the hearing
itself. See R. 20, State Court Record Exh. L, Trial Tr. at X 57.
Maury has both procedurally defaulted and failed to exhaust this claim. On
direct appellate review, Maury argued only that the trial court erred by refusing to
appoint counsel after the Krankel hearing (in other words, that the trial court got
the result of the Krankel hearing wrong). See Direct Review Br. at 2; Direct Review
PLA at 2. He never asked for relief based on denial of counsel during the Krankel
hearing itself. Maury thus procedurally defaulted this claim by failing to include it
in his either his motion for new trial or his brief on direct review. And he failed to
exhaust it because he did not present it to any state court whatsoever. See Direct
Review Br. at 2; Direct Review PLA at 2; Postconviction Appellate Opinion at 1-3;
Postconviction PLA at 1-4. Without a full round of review in the state courts, this
Court cannot address the merits of the claim. See O’Sullivan, 526 U.S. at 845;
Richardson v. Lemke, 745 F.3d 258, 264 (7th Cir. 2014). Maury has not argued that
he has cause and prejudice to excuse the procedural default or the lack of
exhaustion, so this Court considers the default and the lack of exhaustion
Even if this Court could look at the merits of this claim, it could not provide
relief. There is no clearly established federal law that a criminal defendant has a
Sixth Amendment right to counsel in a Krankel-type proceeding. See United States
ex rel. Payton v. Pfister, 2015 WL 5829749, at *14 (N.D. Ill. Oct. 1, 2015) (holding
that Krankel proceedings are a matter of state law, not Sixth Amendment right).
The federal courts cannot establish new rules of constitutional law on habeas
review. See Teague v. Lane, 489 U.S. 288, 315-16 (1989). This Court cannot provide
Maury relief regardless of exhaustion and procedural default.
2. Failure to Appoint Counsel After Krankel Hearing
Maury’s less well-developed Krankel argument is that he was wrongfully
denied new counsel after the Krankel hearing—that is, that the trial court reached
the wrong result and failed to appoint new counsel that Maury deserved. Maury has
exhausted that claim by presenting it at all levels on direct review, and he has not
procedurally defaulted it. See Direct Review Br. at 2; Direct Review PLA at 2.
It is not clear, however, that this claim is based on a federal right, which is
what is required for federal habeas relief. See 28 U.S.C. § 2241(c)(3) (state
petitioner’s habeas petition must be based on federal law). Some courts have
speculated that the Sixth Amendment might require a trial court to appoint new
counsel for a defendant who moves for a new trial based on ineffective assistance of
counsel. See Johnston v. Mizell, 912 F.2d 172, 174-77 (7th Cir. 1990); United States
ex rel. Sumner v. Washington, 840 F. Supp. 562, 577 (N.D. Ill. 1993). Those courts
have not, however, outright held that the specific right actually exists, and they
have declined to presume that trial counsel are not competent to argue that the
defendant should get a new trial based on ineffective assistance. See Johnston,
912 F.2d at 174-77. The most on-point case, moreover, held that there is no Sixth
Amendment right to a certain outcome from Krankel hearings. See Payton, 2015 WL
5829749, at *14. Given the lack of foundation for a federal claim of right, granting
the petitioner relief would require creating new federal law on habeas review, which
this Court cannot do. See Teague, 489 U.S. at 315-16.
Even if Teague does not bar ruling on the merits, the Illinois Appellate Court
reasonably applied federal law on direct review. See § 2254(d)(1); Williams, 529 U.S.
at 412-13. The appellate court rejected on the merits all four reasons that Maury
gave for why he should have had new counsel to argue his motion for new trial. See
Direct Review Opinion ¶¶ 51-63. The state court reasonably applied federal law in
holding that Maury’s trial counsel was not ineffective because he was well-prepared
and made reasonable strategic decisions and in holding that any error was
harmless. See id. ¶¶ 51, 53, 58, 61-63. This Court will not disturb the state court’s
reasonable application of federal law.
D. Claim Four: Ineffective Assistance of Trial Counsel
Maury makes four claims that he received ineffective assistance of trial
counsel. He has procedurally defaulted the first three claims, and the Illinois
Appellate Court reasonably applied federal law on all four claims in postconviction
review. This Court therefore denies Maury relief on all four claims. The Court will
address the first three claims together because of the similarity of the issues.
1. Failure to Call Forehand and Stelnicki, and
Failure to Cross-Examine Detective Nolan
Maury procedurally defaulted three claims for ineffective assistance of trial
counsel. By failing to attach affidavits to his postconviction petition, he defaulted
the claims that trial counsel should have (1) investigated and called Brenda
Forehand of DCFS, (2) investigated and called Karen Stelnicki of the Chicago
Children’s Advocacy Center, and (3) cross-examined Detective Nolan about alleged
bias against Maury.
Illinois requires that state prisoner seeking postconviction review to attach
“affidavits, records, or other evidence supporting [his] allegations or shall state why
the same are not attached.” 725 ILCS 5/122-2 (1964). The failure to attach affidavits
or other evidence or to explain their absence is “fatal” to a postconviction petition.
People v. Collins, 782 N.E.2d 195, 198 (Ill. 2002) (quoting People v. Turner,
719 N.E.2d 725, 730 (Ill. 1999)) (affidavits); see also People v. Delton, 882 N.E.2d
516, 522 (Ill. 2008) (record evidence). There might be an exception if the petitioner
could not have realistically attained any evidence to attach. See Collins, 782 N.E.2d
at 199 (citing People v. Williams, 264 N.E.2d 697, 698 (Ill. 1970)). But if the
petitioner can attach trial transcripts or an affidavit of his own personal knowledge,
then he must do so. See People v. Hall, 841 N.E.2d 913, 919 (Ill. 2005). If he cannot,
then he must explain why. See Collins, 782 N.E.2d at 198. Failure to attach
affidavits to a postconviction petition is a procedural default barring federal habeas
review. See Thompkins v. Pfister, 698 F.3d 976, 986-87 (7th Cir. 2012).
Maury procedurally defaulted all three claims because he failed to attach
affidavits or record evidenceor explain their absenceto support any of these
claims. In fact, the sole evidence Maury attached to his petition were some
affidavits from Catherine M. in support of a claim that he chose not to present in his
federal habeas petition. See Finley Br. at 10-11. Maury could have attached an
affidavit detailing his own memories of his counsel’s actions and statements
concerning all three claims and the reasons he thought Detective Nolan was biased
against him. At a minimum, he should have explained why he could not attach such
affidavits. The failure to include affidavits or record evidence or explain their
absence is a procedural default barring review on the merits. Maury has made no
argument that he has cause and prejudice to excuse these defaults, so this Court
considers the defaults unexcused.
What’s more, this Court cannot second-guess the Illinois Appellate Court’s
reasonable application of federal law on postconviction review. See § 2254(d)(1);
Williams, 529 U.S. at 412-13. The state court rejected all of Maury’s claims on the
merits. See Postconviction Appellate Opinion ¶ 6 (“[W]e find no issues of arguable
merit.”); see also Harrington v. Richter, 562 U.S. 86, 99 (2011) (presumption that
state courts have resolved issues on the merits); Harris v. Reed, 489 U.S. 255, 265
(1989) (same). Although the state court did not include the reasoning behind its
dismissal, it is appropriate to look to the whole recordincluding the Finley
briefto determine if the state court reasonably applied federal law. See Woods v.
Schwartz, 589 F.3d 368, 375 (7th Cir. 2009); Williams v. Washington, 59 F.3d 673,
678 n.3 (7th Cir. 1995).
On postconviction review, the Illinois Appellate Court reasonably applied
federal law to Maury’s claim about Forehand. As the Finley brief argued, trial
counsel was not ineffective because (1) he made a strategic choice not to call
Forehand after speaking with her, and (2) he introduced evidence through other
means of the fact that DCFS did not provide the children counseling, which was the
only thing Forehand could have testified to. See Finley Br. at 16. This is a
reasonable application of the Strickland standard. Counsel’s decision not to call a
witness, made after an investigation, was an objectively reasonable trial strategy.
See McAfee, 589 F.3d at 356. And Maury suffered no prejudice because trial counsel
presented other evidence that the DCFS did not provide counseling. The Illinois
Appellate Court reasonably applied federal law to this claim in postconviction
The Illinois Appellate Court also reasonably applied federal law to Maury’s
claim about Stelnicki. Maury argues that Stelnicki could have helped establish that
“the assault at issue was either consensual or did not occur, or that T.M. was being
dishonest.” Reply at 6. But as the Finley brief correctly argued, based on Stelnicki’s
testimony at the first trial, Stelnicki would not have contradicted T.M.’s testimony
or proven her dishonest about being too afraid to seek help on the night of the
assault. See Finley Br. at 17. What’s more, even if Stelnicki had contradicted T.M.
and shown her to be a “willing accomplice,” it would have been irrelevant because
consent is not a defense to predatory criminal sexual assault. See id. at 18; see also
People v. Douglas, 886 N.E.2d 1232, 1238-39 (Ill. App. Ct. 2008) (no consent
defense). Again, this is a reasonable application of the Strickland standard. Trial
counsel made a reasonable decision, after reviewing the record of the first trial, not
to call Stelnicki. See McAfee, 589 F.3d at 356. And Maury suffered no prejudice
because Stelnicki’s testimony could not have helped him establish a defense. In fact,
Stelnicki testified at the first trial and Maury was convicted anyway. The state
court’s application of federal law to this claim was not unreasonable.
Finally, the Illinois Appellate Court reasonably applied federal law to
Maury’s claim about Detective Nolan. As the Finley brief argues, there was no
ineffective assistance because Maury puts forward only a conclusory argument that
Detective Nolan was biased against him. See Finley Br. at 317. It is not objectively
unreasonable for counsel to decide not to cross-examine a witness about bias when
there is no basis in fact for believing the witness is biased. And Maury has suffered
no prejudice because he can point to no factual allegations that the failure to
question the detective led to any harm. Thus, there is no basis to overturn the state
court’s rejection of Maury’s claim about Detective Nolan.
2. Failure to Properly Contest Prior-Crimes Evidence
The Illinois Appellate Court also reasonably applied federal law on
postconviction review when it held that Maury’s trial counsel was not ineffective in
contesting prior-crimes evidence.9 See § 2254(d)(1); Williams, 529 U.S. at 412-13. As
the Finley brief points out, trial counsel made his best efforts to exclude priorcrimes evidence. See Finley Br. at 19. In fact, trial counsel got the prior-crimes
testimony of three out of four potential witnesses excluded. See id. And he made
exactly the same argument concerning the fourth witness (Antoinette) that Maury
made in postconviction review: that too much time had passed since the prior crime.
See id. That is objectively reasonable attorney representation under Strickland.10
What’s more, it is not clear that Maury could establish prejudice because, even
without Antoinette’s testimony, the children’s testimony probably would have been
enough to convict him. See Direct Review Opinion ¶ 55 (noting the “overwhelming”
evidence against Maury). Thus, § 2254(d) precludes relief on this claim.
Finley brief and the State’s habeas brief do not argue that this ground is
procedurally defaulted. See State’s Answer at 10-11; Finley Br at 19. They do not explain
why. But it might be because Maury’s allegations could be substantiated from the trial
record, without the need for verifying affidavits. It is unclear from the appellate record,
however, whether Maury actually attached trial transcripts to his postconviction motion in
10In addition, federal courts are discouraged from relitigating state law arguments
counsel madesuch as whether prior-crimes evidence was admissible under state
evidentiary ruleswhich state courts rejected. See Miller v. Zatecky, 820 F.3d 275, 277 (7th
Cir. 2016); Lopez v. Thurmer, 594 F.3d 584, 587 (7th Cir. 2010).
E. Claim Five: Ineffective Assistance of Appellate Counsel
The Illinois Appellate Court reasonably applied federal law on post-conviction
review in holding that Maury’s direct-review appellate counsel was not ineffective
in choosing not to raise ineffective assistance of trial counsel claims on direct
review.11 See § 2254(d)(1); Williams, 529 U.S. at 412-13. As the Finley brief argued,
it is not constitutionally ineffective for appellate counsel to refuse to make
arguments he finds meritless. See Finley Br. at 311-12; Jones v. Barnes, 463 U.S.
745, 750-51 (1983); Martin v. Evans, 384 F.3d 848, 851-52 (7th Cir. 2004). The only
exception is if counsel made an objectively incorrect assessment of a claim’s merit.
Jones, 463 U.S. at 750-51; Martin, 384 F.3d at 851-52.
The appellate court reasonably applied the Strickland standard in
postconviction review. As noted in Section III.D., Maury’s claims for ineffective
assistance are meritless. Appellate counsel’s decision not to raise meritless claims
on appeal is not objectively unreasonable. And Maury cannot demonstrate prejudice
because his meritless claims about trial counsel would not have gotten him relief in
direct review. Here again, § 2254(d) bars relief.
IV. No Certificate of Appealability
As a final matter, this Court “must issue or deny a certificate of appealability
when it enters a final order adverse to the applicant.” Rules Governing Section 2254
Cases in the United States District Courts, Rule 11 (2010); see also 28 U.S.C.
with the fourth claim concerning trial counsel, neither the Finley brief nor the
State argues for procedural default based on lack of affidavits. See State’s Answer 10-11;
Finley Br. at 22-23. That may be because Maury’s claim could be substantiated from the
record without a need for a verifying affidavit.
§ 2253(c). To obtain a certificate of appealability, “the applicant [must] ma[ke] a
substantial showing of the denial of a constitutional right.” § 2253(c)(2). To do this,
the petitioner must show 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.” Miller-El v.
Cockrell, 537 U.S. 322, 336 (2003) (quoting Slack v. McDaniel, 529 U.S. 473, 484
(2000)). For the reasons discussed above, Maury has not made a substantial
showing of the denial of a constitutional right. Reasonable jurists would not debate
whether the issues Maury presents in his petition should have been resolved
differently, nor would they conclude that Maury deserves encouragement to proceed
further. See id.; Rutledge v. United States, 230 F.3d 1041, 1047 (7th Cir. 2000). The
Illinois Appellate Court’s decisions on direct and postconviction review were well
within the deference owed to state courts under AEDPA. This Court therefore
declines to issue a certificate of appealability.
For the reasons given above, Maury’s amended habeas petition is denied on
all grounds, and the Court declines to issue a certificate of appealability.
s/Edmond E. Chang
Honorable Edmond E. Chang
United States District Judge
DATE: November 29, 2017
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