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Chatman v. Dovey

United States District Court, D. Maryland

November 30, 2016

WILLIE E. CHATMAN, Petitioner,
v.
WARDEN DOVEY, et al. Respondents.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          George L. Russell, III United States District Judge

         On February 1, 2016, Petitioner Willie Chatman filed the instant 28 U.S.C. § 2254 habeas corpus petition attacking his 2012 convictions and sentences on drug offenses entered in the Circuit Court for Washington County, Maryland. (ECF Nos. 1, 4). Respondents Warden Dovey and the Attorney General of the State of Maryland filed an Answer on April 20, 2016. (ECF No. 8). Although afforded additional time to file a Reply, Chatman has not done so. 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) (holding that district court did not err in refusing to grant habeas petitioner a hearing under 28 U.S.C. §2254(e)(2)). For the reasons that follow, the Petition will be denied and dismissed with prejudice.

         I. BACKGROUND

         A. State Court Proceedings

         Chatman was charged in the Circuit Court for Washington County with multiple counts of possession of a controlled dangerous substance (“CDS”) and possession with intent to distribute CDS, based upon evidence that was seized during the search of Chatman's apartment. (ECF Nos. 8-1, 8-2). Chatman's motion to suppress the evidence, heard on March 22, 2012, was denied by Circuit Court Judge Daniel Dwyer on April 4, 2012. (Id.). On May 12, 2012, Chatman's case was tried before a jury, Circuit Court Judge Kenneth Long presiding. At the conclusion of trial, the jury found Chatman guilty of four counts of possession of CDS and two counts of possession of CDS with the intent to distribute. (ECF Nos. 8-1, 8-3, 8-7). Chatman was sentenced to a cumulative twenty-year term of confinement. (ECF No. 8-1).

         In a counseled direct appeal, Chatman raised claims of: trial court abuse of discretion for the failure to investigate a juror asking the rest of the jury, before evidence had been presented, “how can he be not guilty;” trial court lack of subject matter jurisdiction to order the forfeiture of Chatman's property; and trial court error in determining that sufficient probable cause supported the search of the specific residence named in the search warrant. (ECF No. 8-4). The Court of Special Appeals of Maryland reversed the trial court's forfeiture order, but otherwise affirmed Chatman's judgment of conviction. (ECF No. 8-7). Chatman only sought further review of one question in the Court of Appeals of Maryland, going to his juror misconduct claim. He posed the following question:

Under Johnson v. State, 423 Md. 137 (2011), in which this Court said, “the [trial] court has a duty to fully investigate allegations of juror misconduct before ruling on a motion for a mistrial, and that failure to conduct a voir dire examination of the jurors before resolving the issue of prejudice is an abuse of the trial judge's discretion, ” is “juror misconduct” limited to misconduct between “a juror and a witness, defendant or third party, ” as the Court of Special Appeals held, or does it extend to instances of misconduct between jurors, i.e. when, as here, one juror asked the rest of the jury before deliberation “how can he be not guilty?”

(ECF No. 8-8).

         On July 21, 2014, the Court of Appeals denied Chatman's request for further review. (ECF No. 8-9).

         Chatman instituted state post-conviction proceedings on October 28, 2014. (ECF Nos. 8-1, 8-9, 8-10). He raised claims for ineffective assistance of counsel and due process violations. (ECF Nos. 8-9, 8-10). A hearing was held on April 1, 2015. (ECF No. 1). On May 5, 2015, the Circuit Court issued a statement of reasons for denying the petition. (ECF No. 8-10). The decision became final thirty days later, before Chatman's June 10, 2015 application for leave to appeal was filed. (ECF No. 8-11). On August 13, 2015, the appeal was dismissed as untimely by the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland. (ECF No. 8-12).

         II. DISCUSSION

         A. Analysis

         1. Procedurally Defaulted Claims

         Chatman asserts three claims: (1) the trial judge abused his discretion when he neglected to fully investigate the allegation of juror misconduct; (2) the trial court erred in determining there was probable cause to support the search of the residence named in the search warrant; and (3) the sentencing guidelines applied to his case were incorrect. (ECF No. 1 at 6; ECF No. 4 at 6). Respondents argue that Chatman's ...


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