Winfield v. Dorethy, No. 16-3316 (7th Cir. 2017)Annotate this Case
In 2000, Winfield was convicted of attempted murder. On direct appeal and post-conviction review, the Illinois appellate courts rejected Winfield’s challenges to his conviction and 30-year prison sentence. By agreement of the parties, a federal district court later reviewed Winfield’s conviction under a less deferential standard than called for after the enactment of the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 (AEDPA), 28 U.S.C. 2254(d), and granted Winfield habeas relief. In a motion under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 59(e), the state then sought to reverse its concession that the pre-AEDPA standard applied, which the district court denied as waived. The state had previously agreed that the Illinois courts had not considered the merits of Winfield’s ineffective assistance claim, then changed its position. The Seventh Circuit reversed, citing AEDPA case law and principles of state comity. The state’s original agreement that a pre-AEDPA standard of review applied did not, alone, necessarily amount to an “intentional relinquishment or abandonment of a known right.” Although waiver may be appropriate for some defenses or arguments available under AEDPA, such as the statute of limitations, the same is not true section 2254(d)’s deferential standard of review.