United States District Court, D. Maryland
THEODORE D. CHUANG UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Petitioner James Lee Travis, who is currently confined at the
Eastern Correctional Institution, has filed a Petition for
Writ of Habeas Corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. For
the reasons set forth below, the Petition is denied.
October 13, 2013, Travis was convicted after a bench trial of
one count each of second degree rape, a second degree sex
offense, a third degree sex offense, and second degree
assault in the Circuit Court for Worcester County, Maryland.
He was acquitted of a fourth degree sex offense. The court
sentenced Travis to 20 years of imprisonment, with 10 years
suspended, and two years of probation.
appealed his conviction to the Court of Special Appeals of
Maryland, raising the following issues:
1. Did the trial judge incorrectly interpret and apply the
law in finding [Travis] guilty of second degree rape, second
degree sex offense, and third degree sex offense?
2. Assuming, arguendo, that the trial judge did not
incorrectly interpret and apply the law in finding [Travis]
guilty of second degree rape, second degree sex offense, and
third degree sex offense, did the trial judge render
inconsistent verdicts when he found [Travis] guilty of second
degree rape, second degree sex offense, third degree sex
offense, and second degree assault, but not guilty of fourth
degree sex offense, where all of those offenses required
proof of lack of consent by the alleged victim?
3. Did the trial court err in rendering a verdict of
"not guilty" of second degree sex offense and then
changing his mind and finding [Travis] guilty of that
4. Is the evidence insufficient to sustain the conviction?
Ans. Ex. 2 at 2, ECF No. 14-2. On August 26, 2014, the Court
of Special Appeals affirmed, and the mandate was issued on
September 25, 2014. Travis did not seek further review by the
Court of Appeals of Maryland, so the judgments became final
for direct appeal purposes on October 10, 2014, when the time
period for filing a petition for a writ of certiorari
expired. See Md. Rule 8-3 02(a) (requiring that a
petition be filed in the Court of Appeals no later than 15
days after the Court of Special Appeals issues its mandate).
November 24, 2014, Travis filed a. pro se petition
for post-conviction relief in the Circuit Court for Worcester
County. He raised three of the claims presented to the Court
of Special Appeals, specifically that (1) the trial judge
incorrectly applied the law of second degree rape, second
degree sex offense, and third degree sex offense; (2) the
trial judge erred in rendering a verdict of "not
guilty" of a second degree sex offense and then changing
his mind to find Travis guilty of that offense after all, in
violation of the Double Jeopardy Clause of the Fifth
Amendment; and (3) the evidence was insufficient to sustain
his conviction. Travis also asserted ineffective assistance
of counsel based on the claim that his attorney had required
him to accept a bench trial and had not allowed him to
testify at trial. On April 16, 2015, Travis, through counsel,
filed an amended petition alleging ineffective assistance of
counsel based on the claim that Travis's trial counsel
had failed to file a timely motion to modify his sentence
after Travis made a timely request.
May 8, 2015 hearing on Travis's post-conviction
petitions, defense counsel advised the court that an
agreement had been reached by which Travis would withdraw his
petition for post-conviction relief with prejudice in
exchange for permission to file a belated motion for a
modification of his sentence. The Circuit Court accepted the
agreement, ordered the petitions withdrawn with prejudice,
and instructed defense counsel to file the proposed motion.
Defense counsel filed the motion on July 6, 2015, and the
Circuit Court denied relief on July 23, 2015. Travis did not
seek leave to appeal the Circuit Court's ruling on his
postconviction petition. The deadline to do so passed 30 days
later. See Md. Rule 8-204(b)(2) (providing that an
application for leave to appeal shall be filed within 30 days
after entry of the judgment or order from which appeal is
September 11, 2015, the Court received an undated letter from
Travis in which he stated that he was incarcerated for a rape
he did not commit. The Court construed the letter as a
Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus pursuant to § 2254
and deemed it filed as of September 9, 2015, the date it was
postmarked. See Houston v. Lack,487 U.S. 266, 276
(1988) (holding that pleadings filed by prisoners are deemed
filed on the date the prisoner relinquishes control of the
documents). Travis was instructed to ...