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Legg v. Brand

United States District Court, D. Maryland

April 10, 2017

WILLIAM ALLEN LEGG, #122-942 Petitioner



         William Allen Legg, a self-represented petitioner involuntarily committed to the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (“DHMH”), [1] filed this petition for writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. (ECF No. 1). Respondents, the Acting CEO of Spring Grove Hospital Center, the institution where Legg is confined, and the Attorney General of the State of Maryland, filed a response. (ECF No. 5).

         Having reviewed the parties' submissions, 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) (petitioner not entitled to a hearing under 28 U.S.C. § 2254(e)(2)). For the reasons set forth herein, the court shall DISMISS the petition and shall DECLINE to issue a certificate of appealability.


         Simply stated, Legg's primary claim is that he is not the individual who assaulted an employee at the Harford County Detention Center on July 27, 2006, and thus should not be held by Maryland authorities.[2] Legg also raises a second claim that the incompetency plea entered in connection with the incident that led to his present detention at Spring Grove was obtained outside his presence and without his consent.[3] (ECF No. 1 at pp. 1-5).


         On the afternoon of July 27, 2006, Bel Air police officers Novak and Zulauf responded following a report that a white male was panhandling money and cigarettes from shoppers at the Bel Air Town Center.[4] (ECF No. 5-10 at p. 1). Zulauf asked the individual, whom he identified as William Legg, [5] to leave. Legg became aggressive with both officers and was arrested for assault, failing to obey a lawful order, disorderly conduct, and resisting arrest, and taken to the Bel Air Police Department for processing.[6] (Id. at pp. 1-2). Later that day, Legg was taken to the Harford County Detention Center, where he assaulted Corrections Officer (“CO”) David Chester during a transfer from the “bullpen” to a holding cell. State v. Legg, Case No. 6R00053969 (Dist. Ct. of Md. for Harford Co.), attached at ECF No. 5-1; ECF No. 5-2 (Application for Statement of Charges).

         This second incident involving CO Chester is at issue here. Legg was provided court-appointed counsel, Assistant Public Defender Kelly A. Casper, by the District Court. On July 17, 2007, the District Court committed Legg to DHMH for treatment following a verdict of not criminally responsible (“NCR”).[7]

         On September 11, 2007, an Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) recommended Legg be released from confinement and placed on conditional release for five years. See Legg v. Spring Grove Hospital Center, et al., Civil Action No. DKC-16-2814 (D. Md.), ECF No. 5-6. Before the Harford County District Court ordered his release, Legg left Spring Grove without permission on September 23, 2007, thereby voiding his conditional release. Id., ECF No. 5-5. This pattern of return, conditional release, and/or elopement continued from September of 2007 to May of 2016. Id., ECF No. 5, Ex. 4-17.


         An application for writ of habeas corpus may be granted only for violations of the Constitution or laws of the United States. 28 U.S.C. § 2254(a). The federal habeas statute at 28 U.S.C. § 2254 sets forth a “highly deferential standard for evaluating state-court rulings.” Lindh v. Murphy, 521 U.S. 320, 333 n.7 (1997); see also Bell v. Cone, 543 U.S. 447 (2005). The standard is “difficult to meet, ” and requires courts to give state-court decisions the benefit of the doubt. Cullen v. Pinholster, 563 U.S. 170, 181 (2011) (internal quotation marks and citations omitted); see also White v Woodall, ___ U.S.___, ___, 134 S.Ct. 1697, 1702 (2014), quoting Harrington v. Richter, 562 U.S. 86, 103 (2011) (state prisoner must show state court ruling on claim presented in federal court was “so lacking in justification that there was an error well understood and comprehended in existing law beyond any possibility for fair minded disagreement.”).

         A federal court may not grant a writ of habeas corpus unless the state's adjudication on the merits: 1) resulted in a decision that was contrary to, or involved an unreasonable application of, clearly established federal law, as determined by the Supreme Court of the United States; or 2) resulted in a decision that was based on an unreasonable determination of the facts in light of the evidence presented in the state court proceeding. 28 U.S.C. § 2254 (d). A state adjudication is contrary to clearly established federal law under § 2254(d)(1) where the state court 1) “arrives at a conclusion opposite to that reached by [the Supreme] Court on a question of law, ” or 2) “confronts facts that are materially indistinguishable from a relevant Supreme Court precedent and arrives at a result opposite to [the Supreme Court].” Williams v. Taylor, 529 U.S. 362, 405 (2000).

         Before applying this standard, the court must first determine whether each claim is cognizable for federal review and, if deemed cognizable, whether the claim has been fully exhausted in the state courts ...

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