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Thursday, August 14, 2008

Ind. Decisions - 7th Circuit issues one Indiana decision today

In Carlos K. Williams v. Buss (ND Ind., Judge Sharp), a 12-page opinion, Judge Wood writes:

Carlos K. Williams was sentenced to 55 years in prison for the murder of Amondo Nelson. Williams filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus under 28 U.S.C. § 2254, claiming that his trial counsel was ineffective, and the district court granted his petition. We find that the claim was procedurally defaulted, and no cause and prejudice has been shown to excuse the default; we therefore vacate the district court’s judgment and remand for denial of the petition. * * *

The district court reached the merits of the petition without discussing the procedural default. Williams, 2006 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 29360 at *5. It should not have done so, because an unexcused procedural default ends the case. See, e.g., Daniel v. Knight, 476 F.3d 426, 435 (7th Cir. 2007). Williams procedurally defaulted his ineffective assistance claim by failing to present it fully to the state courts. He has not shown the type of cause that would excuse this defect, nor has he made any argument demonstrating prejudice. In light of his procedural default, we therefore VACATE the district court’s judgment granting the writ and REMAND with directions to deny the petition.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on August 14, 2008 01:43 PM
Posted to Ind. (7th Cir.) Decisions