Adorno v. Melvin, No. 16-2273 (7th Cir. 2017)Annotate this Case
After being asked to leave a party, Adorno shot a gun into the crowd. During voir dire, the judge stated: Illinois does not define reasonable doubt, but any of you who may have sat on a civil jury there’s a preponderance of the evidence, reasonable doubt is the highest burden of proof in our country and in our [s]tate. Those of you who may have sat on civil cases, preponderance of the evidence, if you look at this like a scale, all you have to do is tilt it. So the definition of preponderance of the evidence is, it’s more likely than not that the event occurred. Again, Illinois doesn’t define reasonable doubt. That’s up for you to decide in words, but in analogy to the scale thing, you would have to tip it like this. Adorno was convicted of attempted murder. On appeal, Adorno argued that the impromptu statement invited the jury to convict on less than the reasonable-doubt burden of proof. The Illinois Court of Appeals rejected the claim without reference to federal law. Adorno sought federal habeas relief, 28 U.S.C. 2254. The Seventh Circuit reversed a grant of relief. Even if the “Richter presumption” that the state court adjudicated the federal claim does not apply and de novo review is applied, Adorno’s claim fails. There is no reasonable likelihood that the jury convicted him on less than the reasonable-doubt standard.