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Holloway v. State

Court of Special Appeals of Maryland

March 29, 2017

LIONEL ADMONION HOLLOWAY
v.
STATE OF MARYLAND

          Krauser, C.J., Kehoe, Zarnoch, Robert A., (Senior Judge, Specially Assigned), JJ.

          OPINION

          ZARNOCH, J.

         This is the second time appellant Lionel Holloway has asked for judicial relief from the collateral consequences of his previous guilty pleas; and this is the second time he has appealed to this Court. In the first appeal, he successfully challenged a procedural error, but was denied relief on the merits. On this occasion, he is again correct that the circuit court committed a procedural error, but we again deny him relief because his second action is barred by the law of the case.

         Holloway frames the following question for our review:

Did the court below err in finding that Holloway waived his right to file a coram nobis petition?

         The State essentially asks:

Should the circuit court have denied Holloway's second petition as barred by the law of the case?

         In our view, there is a significant underlying question that we must address:

Can a party raise the defense of law of the case for the first time on appeal?[1]

         For the following reasons set forth below, we answer yes to all three questions and affirm the judgment of the circuit court.

         BACKGROUND

         On March 24, 2000, Holloway pleaded guilty in the Circuit Court for Baltimore City to two counts of possession with intent to distribute heroin. On April 17, 2000, the court sentenced Holloway to two concurrent twenty-year terms of imprisonment, with all but five years suspended, followed by three years of supervised probation.

         On October 2, 2009, Holloway was convicted of possession of a firearm b y a convicted felon in the United States District Court for the District of Maryland. Due to his prior state drug convictions, Holloway was subjected to a mandatory minimum sentence of fifteen years on the firearm charge.

         On December 3, 2009, Holloway filed a petition for writ of error coram nobis ("First Petition") in the circuit court, in an effort to vacate his underlying drug convictions. In his First Petition, Holloway argued that the trial court had committed error during his guilty plea, because it did not apprise him of the nature of his charges as required by Maryland Rule 4-242(c). On August 17, 2010, the circuit court denied the First Petition on the basis that Holloway had waived his right to seek coram nobis by failing to file an application for leave to appeal. Additionally, the circuit court reasoned that the trial court had also complied with Rule 4-242(c) when it took his guilty plea.

         Holloway appealed the denial of the First Petition to this Court. In an unreported opinion, Holloway v. State, September Term 2010, No. 1765 (filed May 5, 2014), a panel of this Court acknowledged that the old rule was that "failure to file an application for leave to appeal barred a petitioner from coram nobis relief." See Holmes v. State, 401 Md. 429 (2007). However, as a result of a change to the law in 2012, Section 8-401 of the Criminal Procedure Article now provides that "failure to seek an appeal in a criminal case may not be construed as a waiver of the right to file a petition for writ of error coram nobis." Md. Code (2001, 2008 Repl. Vol., 2016 Supp.), Criminal Procedure Article ("CP"), § 8-401. Moreover, in Graves v. State, 215 Md.App. 339, 352 (2013), we held that Section 8-401 should be applied retroactively. Accordingly, the panel held that Holloway's failure to file an application for leave to appeal did not preclude him from filing a coram nobis petition.

         Although the State conceded error in the trial court's failure to apprise Holloway of the nature of the charges against him, the panel went on to examine the totality of the circumstances surrounding the plea colloquy as dictated under State v. Daughtry, 419 Md. 35, 71 (2011), and observed the following:

To begin with, the nature of the charge in the present case is not complex. Possession with intent to distribute consists of two elements: possession of a controlled dangerous substance and the intent to distribute that substance. Md. Code, Crim. Law Art. (C.L.), § 5-602(2) (formerly Art. 27 § 286(a)(1)). Moreover, the ...

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