United States District Court, D. Maryland
L. Russell, III United States District Judge
November 3, 2014, Petitioner Brian Owen Hall filed the
instant 28 U.S.C. § 2254 habeas corpus petition
attacking his conviction and sentence for drug and firearm
offenses entered in 2005 in the Circuit Court for Montgomery
County, Maryland. (ECF No. 1). Respondents filed an Answer.
(ECF No. 6). Petitioner has replied. (ECF No. 10). The Court
finds no need for an evidentiary hearing. See Rule
8(a), Rules Governing Section 2254 Cases in the United
States District Courts and Local Rule 105.6 (D.Md.
2016); see also Fisher v. Lee, 215 F.3d 438, 455
(4th Cir. 2000) (finding petitioner not entitled to a hearing
under 28 U.S.C. §2254(e)(2)). For the reasons that
follow, the Petition will be denied and dismissed with
prejudice and a Certificate of Appealability will not issue.
State Court Proceedings
Owen Hall was tried before a jury in the Circuit Court for
Montgomery County and convicted of possession with intent to
distribute more than 50 grams of cocaine, possession with
intent to distribute, conspiracy to possess cocaine with
intent to distribute, possession of paraphernalia, and
illegal possession of a firearm. (ECF No. 6, Ex. 1, 3, &
facts adduced at trial, as summarized by the Court of Special
Appeals of Maryland, follow:
On February 27, 2004, the Montgomery County Police Department
executed a search warrant at the two bedroom apartment of
Angela Hall, located at 18381 Lost Knife Road, Gaithersburg,
Montgomery County, Maryland. Members of the police department
recovered a variety of quantities and types of controlled
dangerous substances and money, a handgun, and several
personal documents from the apartment.
Upon entering, members of the SWAT performed a protective
sweep of the apartment and discovered Earl Lomax and Lynn
Mason, appellant's girlfriend, in the living room. In a
back bedroom, they discovered appellant laying down on a bed.
After handcuffing and placing appellant on the ground, SWAT
officers observed appellant “fidgeting on the ground
and subsequently [saw] him put his hands in the back of his
pants and then [drop] a plastic bag onto the floor.”
The bag contained crack cocaine and marijuana. In addition,
SWAT also discovered $851 in appellant's pants pockets.
Richard Armagost, a non-SWAT police officer, and other
members of his team then effectuated a search of the
apartment, pursuant to the warrant. From appellant's
room, the police recovered a paper bag with hundreds of
unused glycine plastic bags. Additionally, they recovered a
loaded .380 caliber handgun, a small amount of marijuana, and
a stack of documents, many of which were in appellant's
name. Two digital scales and men's clothing were also
recovered from this room.
Inside the other bedroom, the police recovered small amounts
of marijuana, cocaine in small baggies on top of a dresser, a
total of $141 in cash, and a safe in the closet. From the
safe, a document in appellant's name was recovered, along
with $9, 370 in cash, some marijuana, seventy-seven grams of
crack cocaine, two grams of powder cocaine, narcotics
packaging paraphernalia, and a scale with cocaine residue on
it. In the living room, where Earl Lomax and Lynn Mason were
located, the police recovered a crack pipe and a quarter
ounce of crack cocaine.
(ECF No. 6, Ex. 10 at 2-3) (footnotes omitted).
was sentenced on November 10, 2005 to a 14-year term of
imprisonment. (Id., Ex. 1 & 4). He did not file
a timely appeal.
instituted state post-conviction proceedings on November 9,
2007, raising the following claims: (A) prosecutorial
misconduct in (1) allowing inconsistent and perjured
testimony by a police officer, and (2) failing to disclose
impeachment evidence; (B) ineffective assistance of trial
counsel for (1) failing to file a notice of appeal, (2)
failing to interview an alibi witness, (3) failing to move
for a mistrial based on prosecutorial misconduct, and (4)
having a conflict of interest; and (C) trial court error in
not allowing trial counsel to strike his appearance. (ECF No.
6, Ex. 5).
hearing on Hall's post-conviction petition was held on
April 8, 2010 in the Circuit Court for Montgomery County.
(Id.). On May 22, 2011, the post-conviction court
granted Hall the right to file a belated direct appeal. The
petition was denied in all other respects. (Id.).
Hall filed an application for leave to appeal the decision of
the post-conviction court, restating the issues ruled upon in
the post-conviction proceedings. (Id., Ex. 6). The
application was denied summarily by the Court of Special
Appeals on August 28, 2012. (Id., Ex. 7).
belated direct appeal raised the following issues; 1. Did the
circuit court err in denying appellant's objection to
irrelevant and highly prejudicial testimony regarding how
police conduct street-level purchases of narcotics?
2. Did the circuit court err in admitting improper lay
opinion that the drugs found in the apartment
“absolutely” were meant for distribution?
3. Was the evidence sufficient to establish conspiracy to
possess cocaine with the intent to distribute?
(ECF No. 6, Ex. 8 at 2).
April 5, 2013, the Court of Special Appeals affirmed