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Hoskins v. Graham

United States District Court, D. Maryland

June 20, 2017

DANNY C. HOSKINS, # 180134, Petitioner
RICHARD J. GRAHAM, JR., et al., Respondents


          DEBORAH K. CHASANOW United States District Judge

         On July 17, 2014, [1] the court received the instant 28 U.S.C. § 2254 habeas corpus application filed by Petitioner Danny C. Hoskins attacking his 2001 judgment of conviction for first-degree murder and related offenses. ECF No. 1. Respondents filed an answer with exhibits on November 7, 2014. ECF No. 9. Hoskins filed a reply and supplemental reply. ECF Nos. 11 & 13. On February 5, 2015, [2] Hoskins filed a motion to amend the petition, ECF No. 14, which the court provisionally granted in an order dated August 21, 2015, ECF No. 15. Respondents filed a supplemental answer. ECF No. 18. Hoskins then filed a reply to the supplemental answer. ECF No. 19. After reviewing the filings, 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 set forth herein, the court will deny the petition and deny the issuance of a certificate of appealability.

         Factual and Procedural History[3]

         On October 15, 2001, after a jury trial, Hoskins was convicted in the Circuit Court for Cecil County of first-degree premeditated murder.[4] ECF No. 9, Ex. 1, p. 12.[5] He was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. Id.; ECF No. 1, p. 1. Hoskins appealed, arguing that the trial court should have granted a mistrial due to: (1) prejudicial comments and misconduct by the State's Attorney; and (2) impermissible shifting of the burden of proof during the prosecution's closing argument. ECF No. 1, p. 1; ECF No. 9, Ex. 2, p. 2. In an unreported opinion filed on October 16, 2003, the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland affirmed the judgment of conviction. ECF No. 9, Ex. 4, p. 1, 8. The court's Mandate issued on November 17, 2003. ECF No. 1, p. 2; ECF No. 9, Ex. 4. Hoskins did not seek further review by the Court of Appeals of Maryland. ECF No. 1, p. 2. Therefore, his conviction became final for direct appeal purposes on December 2, 2003, when the time for filing a petition for a writ of certiorari expired. See Md. Rule 8-302(a) (requiring that petition for writ of certiorari be filed not later than fifteen days after the Court of Special Appeals issues its mandate).

         While his appellate proceedings were pending, on January 2, 2003, Hoskins filed a motion for new trial in the Circuit Court, raising three grounds for new trial: two allegations of misconduct or fraud by the State's Attorney involving evidence presented at trial or prior to trial; and the admission of an expert witness and the testimony she provided in her capacity as an expert. ECF No. 9, p. 6; ECF No. 9, Ex. 1, p. 28; ECF No. 9, Ex. 5, p. 1. The motion for new trial was denied, after hearing, [6] on January 3, 2008. ECF No. 9, Ex. 1, p. 31; ECF No. 9, Ex. 5, p. 1. Hoskins filed an application for leave to appeal the denial, which was dismissed on April 10, 2008, due to Hoskins' failure to file timely his brief. ECF No. 9, Ex. 6; see also Md. Rule 8-602(a)(7).

         In the interim period, on February 23, 2004, Hoskins filed a petition for post-conviction relief in the Circuit Court, raising thirty-two allegations of ineffective assistance of counsel, prosecutorial misconduct, and judicial error. ECF No. 1, p. 2; ECF No. 9, Ex, 1. p. 29. Following an April 12, 2010, hearing, ECF No. 9, Ex. 7, the post-conviction court denied the petition on January 11, 2011. ECF No. 9, Ex. 8. On February 11, 2011, Hoskins filed an application for leave to appeal the adverse decision, ECF No. 9, Ex. 9, which the Court of Special Appeals summarily denied on June 11, 2013, ECF No. 9, Ex. 10. The intermediate appellate court's mandate issued on July 12, 2013. Id.

         Hoskins presents the following issues for the court's review:

Ground One: The State withheld two police reports, the first of which verified that Hoskins requested counsel during his March 16, 2000, interrogation and the second reflected that a man was seen walking away from the crime scene on the morning of March 15, 2000, with a knife or saw in his hand.
Ground Two: The searches of Hoskins on both March 16, 2000, and March 18, 2000, by the Cecil County Sheriff's Department were conducted illegally.
Ground Three: The State violated 18 U.S.C. §§ 2510-2521.
Ground Four: Despite the defense's request that the experts who performed the original serology and DNA tests testify at trial, the State utilized substitutes.
Ground Five: The trial court erred in denying the joint request of the State and defense to sequester the jury during deliberations.
Ground Six: One of Hoskins' trial attorneys purportedly assaulted the State's Attorney in the presence of the jury and trial judge.
Ground Seven: An Assistant State's Attorney for Cecil County, a friend and continuous legal advisor of Hoskins, advised Hoskins hours before the March 16, 2000, interrogation to “participate” with the Sheriff's Department and answer their questions truthfully.
Ground Eight: Trial counsel failed to call Hoskins' wife and step-daughter as witnesses.
Ground Nine: The post-conviction court erred in its decision in stating that Hoskins had waived all of his allegations and, in the alternative, had failed to establish ineffective assistance of counsel.
Ground Ten: The State's Attorney intentionally misled the trial court when he informed the court during opening statements that “he had any evidence” to support any of the sexual charges against Hoskins, and after objections by Hoskins' counsel the trial court erred in allowing the State to go forward with such evidence at both a pre-trial hearing and during the trial, thereby prejudicing Hoskins.

ECF No. 1, pp. 3-5; ECF No. 14, pp. 1-2. Respondents mount a variety of challenges to Petitioner's claims, including lack of timeliness, failure to exhaust, procedural default, failure to state a cognizable basis for relief, and, finally, failure to state a basis for relief on the merits. See, generally, ECF Nos. 9 and 18.

         Threshold Considerations

         Timeliness A one-year statute of limitations applies to habeas petitions in non-capital cases for a person convicted in state court. See 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d). Section 2244(d) provides that:

         (1) A 1-year period of limitation shall apply to an application for a writ of habeas corpus by a person in custody pursuant to the judgment of a State court. The ...

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