Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Bridgeford v. Stouffer

United States District Court, D. Maryland

June 8, 2015

DOUGLAS CHARLES BRIDGEFORD, Petitioner,
v.
WARDEN J. MICHAEL STOUFFER, et al., Respondents.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

PETER J. MESSITTE, District Judge.

Douglas Charles Bridgeford ("Bridgeford"), [1] by his counsel, is petitioning for a Writ of Habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. Respondents, Warden Michael J. Stouffer, [2] and the Attorney General of Maryland, by their counsel, have filed a Response, (ECF 6), to which Bridgeford has filed an Opposition. (ECF 10).[3]

After considering the pleadings, exhibits, and applicable law, the court finds a hearing unnecessary. See Local Rule 105.6 (D. Md. 2014); Rule 8, "Rules Governing Section 2254 Proceedings in the United States District Courts"; see also Fisher v. Lee, 215 F.3d 438, 455 (4th Cir. 2000) (observing there is no entitlement to a hearing under 28 U.S.C. § 2254(e)(2)). For reasons to follow, the Petition will be denied.

BACKGROUND

Bridgeford is challenging his conviction in 2005, in the Circuit Court for Baltimore County, Maryland, for robbery, first-degree assault, burglary, and theft. On October 3, 2005, he was sentenced in the Circuit Court as a subsequent offender to 25 years without parole for robbery, 20 years concurrent for first-degree burglary, and 15 years concurrent for first-degree assault. The theft conviction was merged.

The Court of Special Appeals of Maryland summarized the facts of the case as follows:

On the evening of November 20. 2004. at her home at 15 Ruxlea Court in Baltimore County, Eleanor Millspaugh was assaulted by intruders who stole approximately $25, 000 worth of jewelry from her. On the night of the incident, Millspaugh was in her home office, speaking on the phone to her stepson. Millspaugh saw a car pull up to the driveway, and she asked her housekeeper, Candie Stanley, to see who was in the car. Millspaugh remained on the phone until Stanley returned with two men who opened the door to the office. One of the men struck Millspaugh in the nose and asked, "[w]here?s the money?" Millspaugh opened her purse and gave the man the $200 inside of it. The man then demanded to know where Millspaugh's safe was located. Millspaugh opened the desk drawer where she kept her keys, and picked up a key that she "was hoping was the correct key." She could not determine whether the key was the correct one because she was bleeding profusely from the wound in her nose and was disoriented.
Millspaugh led one of the men to the basement where she kept a cabinet with her valuables. Upon reaching the locked cabinet, the man told Millspaugh that if she did not open the cabinet, she would be killed. Millspaugh opened the door and told the man to take the jewelry and valuables inside. Millspaugh and the man by her side then went back upstairs into her bedroom to look for additional jewelry. When Millspaugh could not find any additional jewelry, the man struck her across the back of her head.
The intruder then ordered Millspaugh to go downstairs to the kitchen. At this point, Millspaugh had not seen either the other intruder or Stanley since the beginning of the incident, and Millspaugh did not know where they were. While in the kitchen, Millspaugh was told to lie down on the floor, face down. Millspaugh believed the other man then came into the kitchen and assisted the first intruder in duct-taping Millspaugh's hands behind her back. Millspaugh waited several minutes until she heard the door slam, leading her to believe that the men had left the house. She then removed the duct tape from her hands, knelt down low, went out the back door of her house, and called the police from a neighbor's house.
Throughout the incident, the intruders wore surgical masks covering everything but their eyes and foreheads. Millspaugh was able to identify the men as African-American, and she noted that the men were not big and that they dressed reasonably well.

ECF 1, Ex. pp. 3-5.[4]

During the course of the police investigation, Candie Stanley identified Bridgeford as her boyfriend, and implicated him in the robbery. (Ex 8, pp. 244-50). An arrest warrant was issued for Bridgeford, and at the time of his arrest, he was found with jewelry later identified by Millsbaugh as her jewelry taken during the robbery. (Ex. 15, pp. 3-10).

PROCEDURAL HISTORY

Bridgeford, by his counsel, filed a direct appeal of his conviction in the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland, raising thirteen claims, [5] three of which are pertinent to this federal habeas petition:

1. Was trial held more than 180 days after counsel's entry of appearance in violation of Maryland rule 4-271;
2. Did the trial court err in finding a waiver of the right to counsel; and
3. Was due process violated when Bridgeford was tried in prison clothes.

(Ex. 15, pp. 3-10; Ex. 12).

On August 15, 2008, the Court of Special Appeals vacated the separate sentence for first-degree assault on merger grounds, but otherwise affirmed judgment. (ECF 1, Ex. 15).

On September 29, 2008, Bridgeford, by his counsel, filed a Petition for Writ of Certiorari in the Court of Appeals of Maryland, raising two questions for review. (ECF 1, Ex. 17).

1. Where Petitioner's trial was held more than 180 days after counsel's entry of appearance in violation of Maryland Rule 4-271, and where the key postponement was made by the trial court under the purported authority of an express written ad hoc limited designation from the administrative judge, for the purposes of Petitioner's case only, did the Court of Special Appeals err in affirming Petitioners conviction on the ground that Petitioner failed to prove that the trial judge was not in fact the administrative judge's designee for all purposes?
2. Did the Court of Special Appeals fail to strictly enforce the express requirements of Maryland Rule 4-215 in affirming trial court's finding that Petitioner waived his right to counsel even though at least one of the required advisements was never given to Petitioner?

(Ex. 17).

With the Petition for Writ of Certiorari, Bridgeford's counsel filed a letter from the Honorable John Grason Turnbull, Circuit Administrative Judge and County Administrative Judge for Baltimore County, which addressed judicial authority for postponing cases in circuit court on the date Bridgeford's case was postponed. (Ex. 16).

Subsequently, Bridgeford filed another Petition for Writ of Certiorari, this one pro se but prepared with the assistance of his counsel, asking the Court of Appeals to review all his claims rejected on direct appeal. (Ex. 18). Among the additional questions presented for review was whether "due process was violated when Petitioner was tried in prison clothes?" Id.

On December 12, 2008, the Court of Appeals denied both Petitions for Writ of Certiorari. (ECF 1, p. 3). Bridgeford. proceeding pro se, filed a Petition for Writ of Certiorari to the Supreme Court of the United States on March 4, 2009, which was denied on October 5, 2009. Id.

On September 22, 2008, while the certiorari requests were pending in the Court of Appeals, Bridgeford filed a pro se Petition for Post-Conviction Relief in the Circuit Court for Baltimore County, alleging inter alia: 1) his speedy trial rights were violated by the trial judge; 2) his "right to counsel Md. Rule 4-215" was violated; 3) he was forced to wear prison clothes at trial. (Ex. 20).

On January 21, 2010, the circuit court held a post-conviction hearing at which Bridgeford was represented by an assistant public defender from the Collateral Review Division, and both Bridgeford and his appellate counsel testified. (Ex 21; ECF 6, Ex. 1). After the hearing, the court ordered additional briefing, observing "there were some issues raised today that were obviously not raised in Mr. Bridgeford's pro se petition. And so-at least some of them-the first time that [prosecutor] heard of them was this morning:' (ECF 6, Ex. 1. part 2, p. 101).

On February 18. 2010, Bridgeford, by his post-conviction counsel, filed a memorandum presenting one question: "Did appellate counsel fail to provide effective counsel when he failed to provide to the circuit court [sic] evidence of an improper assignment by the administrative judge?" (ECF 22). The state filed a Memorandum in response with affidavits obtained from Judge Turnbull and Judge Kathleen Gallogly Cox addressing judicial designation for postponement of trial. (Ex. 24).

On September 17, 2010. the post-conviction court issued an oral opinion and denied post-conviction relief on all issues. (Ex. 26). A transcript of that opinion was included in the written order dated September 28. 2010. Id.

On October 27, 2010, Bridgeford filed an Application for Leave to Appeal the denial of post-conviction relief. He raised three claims:

1. The Circuit Court erred in ruling that Bridgeford was not deprived of his State and federal constitutional right to the assistance of counsel due to ineffective assistance of appellate counsel in failing to obtain and provide the Court of Special Appeals with written documentation of the improper procedure used by the Circuit Court to postpone his trial past the Hicks [6] date in violation of Goldring. [7]
2. The Circuit Court erred in ruling Bridgeford was not deprived of his State and federal constitutional right to assistance of counsel due to the ineffective assistance of appellate counsel in failing to adequately brief, argue, and preserve the issue that Bridgeford was not informed by the trial court of the possible mandatory penalties as required by Md. Rule 4-215 and State v. Camper . [8]
3. The Circuit Court erred in failing to consider the fact that the docket entries show that Bridgeford's trial was improperly postponed past the Hicks date to August 2, 2005 by the court clerk's office on June 15, 2005, and not by the Administrative Judge's designee on June 16, 2005

(Ex. 1, Ex. 27). In responding to the Order to Show Cause issued by the Court of Special Appeals, the State filed a response to the Application for Leave to Appeal, and asserted Bridgeford had waived the third claim. (Ex. 28). On December 6, 2012, the Court of Special Appeals issued an unreported opinion summarily denying leave to appeal. (Ex. 30).

On January 11. 2013. Bridgeford filed a Motion to Reopen his post-conviction proceedings. He alleged post-conviction counsel was ineffective for failing to raise properly an allegation that Md. Rule 4-215 was violated and his sentence is illegal. (ECF 6, Ex. 2). The Motion was denied on January 14, 2013, and Bridgeford did not file an Application for Leave to Appeal this ruling. (ECF 6, Ex. 3)

DISCUSSION

Bridgeford the following grounds for relief:

(1) His appellate counsel rendered ineffective assistance by failing to obtain and present evidence to the Court of Special Appeals that another judge had been appointed with ...

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.