United States District Court, D. Maryland
JEREMY A. GEBHART, Petitioner,
WARDEN RICK MILLER, et al. Respondents.
L. Russell, III United States District Judge
Jeremy A. Gebhart seeks habeas relief pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
§ 2254, attacking the constitutionality of his 2013
convictions in the Circuit Court for Carroll County. (ECF No.
1). Respondents filed a Limited Answer claiming that the
Petition is subject to dismissal for the failure to exhaust
available state court remedies. They argue that Gebhart still
has available state court remedies because he may file
post-conviction proceedings. (ECF No. 6). Gebhart was given
the opportunity to respond to Respondents' arguments, and
he has done so. (ECF No. 7).
matter has been fully briefed. Upon review, 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. 2014);
see also Fisher v. Lee, 215 F.3d 438, 455 (4th Cir.
2000) (petitioner not entitled to a hearing under 28 U.S.C.
§ 2254(e)(2)). For the reasons that follow, the Court
will dismiss without prejudice Gebhart's Petition.
was found guilty of second-degree assault (two counts) and
resisting arrest (one count) in the Circuit Court for Carroll
County. On December 12, 2013, he was sentenced to a five-year
term. (ECF Nos. 6-1, 6-2, & 6-3). On direct appeal,
Gebhart raised four claims for review: (1) sufficiency of the
evidence; (2) trial court error for the failure to instruct
the jury on all three definitions of assault; (3) trial court
error for the failure to merge the assault and resisting
arrest convictions; and (4) trial court error for the
imposition of an illegal sentence on the resisting-arrest
conviction. (ECF Nos. 6-2 & 6-3).
January 15, 2015, the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland
granted Gebhart sentencing relief as to the failure to merge
one of the second-degree assault convictions with resisting
arrest, but otherwise affirmed his judgment of conviction.
(ECF No. 6-3). On April 20, 2015, the Court of Appeals of
Maryland denied further review. (Id.).
November 25, 2015, Gebhart filed a post-conviction petition
in the Circuit Court for Carroll County, raising claims
identical to those presented on direct appeal, with an
additional due process and ineffective assistance of counsel
ground. (ECF No. 6-4). On December 28, 2015, the Circuit
Court denied Gebhart's request for a waiver of costs and
ordered the post-conviction petition be deemed withdrawn
unless the costs were remitted. (Id.). On January
19, 2016, Gebhart filed an application for leave to appeal,
which was stricken due to the failure to pay costs. On March
28, 2016, the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland issued an
order dismissing Gebhart's application for leave to
Petition for federal habeas corpus relief, when generously
construed, raises five claims: (1) trial court error when it
failed to instruct the jury on all varieties of second-degree
assault; (2) his ex-post-facto rights were violated; (3)
violation of due process rights due to his pre-trial
detention; (4) law enforcement violation of his
constitutional rights by recording his statement, when he was
“fatigued, ” and introducing the statement as
evidence by the State; and (5) his bail was excessive,
resulting in his being unlawfully detained in pre-trial
detention. (ECF No. 1 at 8-13).
Exhaustion of State Remedies
contend that Gebhart's third, fourth, and fifth claims
are unexhausted. (ECF No. 6 at 9). Gebhart does not seek to
withdraw his purportedly unexhausted claims. Rather, his
Reply seemingly claims that his Petition is sufficiently
“worthy” to proceed pursuant to Rule 5(e) of the
Rules Governing Section 2254 Cases. (ECF No. 7).
exhaustion “‘is rooted in considerations of
federal-state comity, '” and in Congressional
determination via federal habeas laws “that exhaustion
of adequate state remedies will ‘best serve the
policies of federalism.'” Slavek v.
Hinkle, 359 F.Supp.2d 473, 479 (E.D.Va. 2005) (quoting
Preiser v. Rodriguez, 411 U.S. 475, 491-92 &
n.10 (1973)). The purpose of the exhaustion requirement is
“to give the State an initial opportunity to pass upon
and correct alleged violations of its prisoners' federal
rights.” Picard v. Connor, 404 U.S. 270, 275
comprises two components. First, a petitioner must utilize
“all available state remedies before he can apply for
federal habeas relief.” Breard v. Pruett, 134
F.3d 615, 619 (4th Cir. 1998) (citing Matthews v.
Evatt, 105 F.3d 907, 910-11 (4th Cir. 1997)). Under this
component of exhaustion, a habeas petitioner “shall not
be deemed to have exhausted the remedies available in the
courts of the State . . . if he has the right under the law
of the State to raise, by any available procedure, the
question presented.” 28 U.S.C. § 2254(c). Lack of
exhaustion precludes federal habeas relief. See 28
U.S.C. § 2254(b)(1)(A) (“An application for a writ
of habeas corpus on behalf of a person in custody pursuant to
the judgment of a State court shall not be granted unless it
appears that . . . the applicant has exhausted the remedies
available in the courts of the State . . . .”).
second component of exhaustion requires a petitioner to have
offered the state courts an adequate opportunity to address
the precise constitutional claims advanced on federal habeas.
“To provide the State with the necessary
‘opportunity, ' the prisoner must ‘fairly
present' his claim in each appropriate state court
(including a state supreme court with powers of discretionary
review), thereby alerting that court to the federal ...