United States District Court, D. Maryland
W. Grimm, United States District Judge.
before the Court is Petitioner William Charles
Clayborne's 28 U.S.C. § 2254 petition. Pet., ECF No.
1. His remaining claim is that his waiver of a unanimous verdict
was not knowing and voluntary. Respondents filed a
Supplemental Response as to that claim. Supp. Resp., ECF No.
16. I have reviewed the filings, and no hearing is necessary.
See Loc. R. 105.6. For the reasons set forth below,
the Petition shall be denied, and the case dismissed.
noted more fully in my March 22, 2017 Memorandum Opinion, ECF
No. 14, 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).
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).
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, 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
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) if 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).
the “unreasonable application” analysis under
§ 2254(d)(1), a “state court's determination
that a claim lacks merit precludes federal habeas relief so
long as ‘fairminded jurists could disagree' on the
correctness of the state court's decision.”
Harrington, 562 U.S. at 101 (quoting Yarborough
v. Alvarado, 541 U.S. 652, 664 (2004)). Thus, “an
unreasonable application of federal law is different from an
incorrect application of federal law.” Id. at
785 (internal quotation marks omitted).
under § 2254(d)(2), “a state-court factual
determination is not unreasonable merely because the federal
habeas court would have reached a different conclusion in the
first instance.” Wood v. Allen, 558 U.S. 290,
301 (2010). “[E]ven if reasonable minds reviewing the
record might disagree about the finding in question, ”
a federal habeas court may not conclude that the state court
decision was based on an unreasonable determination of the
facts. Id. “[A] federal habeas court may not
issue the writ simply because [it] concludes in its
independent judgment that the relevant state-court decision
applied established federal law erroneously or
incorrectly.” Renico v. Lett, 559 U.S
766, 773 (2010).
habeas statute provides that “a determination of a
factual issue made by a State court shall be presumed to be
correct, ” and the petitioner bears “the burden
of rebutting the presumption of correctness by clear and
convincing evidence.” 28 U.S.C. § 2254(e)(1).
“Where the state court conducted an evidentiary hearing
and explained its reasoning with some care, it should be
particularly difficult to establish clear and convincing
evidence of error on the state court's part.”
Sharpe v. Bell, 593 F.3d 372, 378 (4th Cir. 2010).
Apodaca v. Oregon, 406 U.S. 404, 406, 410-12 (1972),
the Supreme Court held that a state law providing that a
criminal defendant could be convicted by a non-unanimous
verdict did not violate the Sixth Amendment, applicable to
the states via the Fourteenth Amendment. Consequently,
neither the Sixth nor the Fourteenth Amendments is abridged
when a defendant consents and waves the right to a unanimous
verdict. See Maryland v. McKay, 375 A.2d 228, 232
Court of Special Appeals of Maryland fully considered the
merits of Clayborne's claim that he did not knowingly and
voluntarily waive his right to an unanimous jury verdict, and
rejected it, stating, in part:
In the instant case, appellant, against the advice of
counsel, express[ed] his wish to waive his right to a
unanimous verdict and accept the majority verdict. As a
consequence, appellant's counsel and the trial court
engaged in an extensive waiver inquiry with appellant. The
waiver inquiry included questions relating to appellant's
capacity to make a voluntary decision and ruled out the
possibility of drugs, alcohol, and mental illness or
impairment. To ensure appellant's understanding of his
selection, his counsel not only advised appellant ...