United States District Court, D. Maryland
W. Grimm United States District Judge
before the Court is Petitioner William Charles
Clayborne's Petition for Writ of Habeaus Corpus arising
out of his January 2011 conviction for the murder of Zachary
Thompson. Among other things, Clayborne attacks the
conviction because he claims that his waiver of a unanimous
verdict was not knowing and voluntary. Respondents have filed
a Limited Answer to the Petition, asserting that Clayborne
raised unexhausted claims not subject to substantive federal
habeas corpus review. Ltd. Answer, ECF No. 9. I granted
Clayborne an opportunity to respond, ECF No. 10, which he has
done, Pet'r's Reply, ECF No. 11; Pet'r's
Supp. Reply, ECF No. 12. The Court has reviewed the filings,
and no hearing is necessary. See Rule 8(a),
Rules Governing Section 2254 Cases in the United States
District Courts; 28 U.S.C. § 2254(e)(2). For the
reasons set forth below, the Petition shall be denied as to
all claims except for the claim related to the waiver of a
January 2011, a Circuit Court for Baltimore City jury
convicted Clayborne of first-degree murder. Claybourne v.
State, 61 A.3d 841, 844 (Md. Ct. Spec. App. 2013). The
circumstances surrounding the verdict were unusual. During
deliberations, the jury could not reach a unanimous decision.
Id. at 848. Clayborne waived his right to a
unanimous verdict, and he and the State agreed to accept a
majority verdict. Id. at 849-51. The jury found
Clayborne guilty of first-degree murder by an eleven-to-one
vote and of unlawfully carrying a dangerous weapon by a
unanimous vote. Id. at 851. Clayborne was sentenced
to life imprisonment with all but 25 years suspended.
direct appeal, Clayborne raised three claims:
1. Was his waiver of his right to a unanimous verdict knowing
2. Did the trial court abuse its discretion when it permitted
testimony that one of the State's key witnesses had
expressed concerns about her safety?
3. Under the “facts of the case” doctrine, was
the evidence insufficient to sustain Clayborne's
conviction for openly carrying a dangerous weapon?
Id. at 845. The Maryland Court of Special Appeals
affirmed the conviction. Id. at 867. Clayborne filed
a Petition for Writ of Certiorari raising the same questions,
and the Maryland Court of Appeals denied further review.
Claybourne v. State, 68 A.3d 286 (Md. 2013).
his certiorari request was pending, Clayborne filed a
petition for post-conviction relief in the Circuit Court for
Baltimore City. Cir. Ct. Balt. City Docket 12, ECF No. 9-1.
He later withdrew that petition, id. at 14, but
filed a second post-conviction petition on June 17, 2014,
id. at 15, 18. The Petition for Post-Conviction
Relief alleged ineffective assistance of trial counsel for:
(1) objecting to a cautionary instruction; (2) failing to
move for judgment of acquittal following the State's
case; (3) failing to challenge inconsistent verdicts; (4)
failing to interview alibi witnesses; (5) failing to seek
suppression of State's witness Valerie Leak's
testimony or demand that she undergo a psychiatric
examination; (6) failing to move to suppress evidence; (7)
failing to move for disclosure of criminal records of the
State's witnesses; (8) failing to handle DNA evidence
properly; (9) failing to request an instruction on
involuntary manslaughter due to hot-blooded response; (10)
failing to investigate impeachment evidence of Valerie Leak;
(11) failing to consult with Clayborne about filing a motion
for modification of his sentence; and (12) failing to address
the rule which requires a court to read all contents of any
jury communication to both parties. Cir. Ct. Balt. City Docs.
11-12, ECF No. 6-5. The Petition also alleged ineffective
assistance of appellate counsel for failing to allege that
insufficient evidence was presented to support the
convictions. Id. at 12. Finally, the Petition
alleged prosecutorial misconduct for: (1) presenting
noncredible witnesses; (2) making improper remarks; and (3)
presenting false evidence. Id. at 11.
post-conviction court granted Clayborne's request to file
a belated request for modification of his sentence but denied
all other relief. Id. at 39. Clayborne did not file a
timely application for leave to appeal the denial of
post-conviction relief. Instead, he sought federal habeas
corpus review within the one-year limitations period provided
by 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d)(1). See Pet., ECF No. 1.
Petition, as supplemented, sets forth a number of grounds for
relief that: (A) the verdict was inconsistent; (B) his waiver
of an unanimous verdict was not knowing and intelligent; (C)
the trial court failed to give an instruction on voluntary
manslaughter; (D) witness testimony amounted to hearsay; (E)
the photographic identification array was suggestive; (F) the
police and prosecutor falsified DNA evidence; (G) there was
no evidence of premeditated murder; (H) prosecution witness
Angela Gibbs's trial testimony was not credible; (I) the
prosecutor committed misconduct by suggesting that Gibbs was
afraid of Clayborne; (J) a murder weapon was never found; (K)
prosecution witness Valerie Leak was incompetent; (L) newly
discovered evidence not previously disclosed by the State and
obtained under the Maryland Public Information Act
(“MPIA”), Md. Code Ann., State Gov't §
10-611 to -628, shows all witnesses presented perjured and
inconsistent testimony; (M) although he responded in the
negative at trial, Clayborne was in fact on psychiatric
medication at the time of trial; and (N) the trial court
failed to properly instruct the jury as to reasonable doubt.
Pet. 1-2; First Supp. Pet. 6, 22, ECF No. 3; Second Supp.
Pet. 8-12, 14-15, ECF No. 5; Third Supp. Pet. 2-3, ECF No. 6;
Pet'r's Reply 1; Pet'r's Supp. Reply