STEVEN G. CARVER #204-326 Petitioner,
WARDEN BOBBY SHEARIN, et al. Respondents.
CATHERINE C. BLAKE, District Judge.
On October 15, 2010,  the Clerk received self-represented petitioner Steven G. Carver's 28 U.S.C. § 2254 habeas corpus application attacking his 1989 Maryland judgment of conviction for first-degree murder and related offenses. ECF No. 1. Respondent filed an answer which addressed the timeliness of petitioner's application and requested that the petition be dismissed as untimely. ECF No. 10. Petitioner was advised of his opportunity to file a reply (ECF No. 11), and did so. ECF No. 12. Based on that reply, the court appointed petitioner counsel under the Criminal Justice Act. Additional briefing and exhibits have been submitted by the parties (ECF Nos. 25, 27 and 30), and the case is ready for dispositive review, there being no need for an evidentiary hearing. See Rule 8(a), Rules Governing Section 2254 Cases in the United States District Courts ; see also 28 U.S.C. § 2254(e)(2). For reasons set forth herein, the court shall dismiss the petition as time-barred and decline to issue a certificate of appealability.
On November 16, 1989, a jury sitting in the Circuit Court for Baltimore City found petitioner guilty of first-degree murder, use of a handgun in the commission of a crime of violence, and unlawfully wearing, carrying and transporting a handgun. ECF No. 10, Ex. 1. On January 30, 1990, petitioner was sentenced to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole for murder and a twenty year consecutive sentence for use of a handgun. The conviction for carrying a handgun merged. Id.
Petitioner filed a timely appeal to the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland, raising six allegations of trial court error concerning:
(1) adoption of a protective order preventing disclosure of the names of witnesses against him;
(2) joining the co-defendants at trial;
(3) denying a motion to suppress photographic identifications;
(4) admitting the conversation between the alleged victim and Carver from the night before the murder;
(5) failing to give jury instructions regarding the use of a handgun in commission of a crime of violence; and
(6) improperly instructing the jury as to the burden of proof.
The appeal was denied in an unpublished opinion filed on January 13, 1992. ECF No. 1, p. 3; ECF No. 25, p. 2. Carver did not seek further review in the Court of Appeals of Maryland. Thus, Carver's judgment of conviction became final for direct appeal purposes on February 27, 1992.
On April 24, 1996, a one-year limitations period for seeking federal habeas corpus relief was enacted as part of the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act ("AEDPA"). Where, as here, a defendant's convictions became final before the enactment of AEDPA, the defendant was afforded a one-year grace period to seek habeas corpus relief in the United States district courts. See Brown v. Angelone, 150 F.3d 370, 375 (4th Cir. 1998); see also 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d). Accordingly, Carver's one-year limitations period began to run on April 24, 1996.
In January of 1996, Carver met with counsel from the Collateral Review Division of the State Office of the Public Defender to discuss whether he should seek post-conviction relief. After reviewing the trial transcripts, counsel informed Carver that she found no meritorious grounds for seeking relief. ECF No. 30, Ex. 1 at 1. On February 13, 1997, with 70 days remaining in his one-year limitations period,  Carver filed a self-represented petition for post-conviction relief in the Circuit Court for Baltimore City, see ECF No. 25, Ex. 1, p. 2, thus tolling the limitations period. See 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d)(2). At the time of filing, Carver moved the Circuit Court to appoint a panel attorney to represent him at his post-conviction hearing, citing AEDPA and expressing dissatisfaction with the Office of the Public Defender. ECF No. 30, Ex. 1. A hearing on the petition, which was never amended by counsel for ...