United States District Court, D. Maryland
W. Grimm United States District Judge
Craig Ladarrell Verge, an inmate housed at Western
Correctional Institute (“WCI”), has filed a
Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus with the Court. Pet., ECF
No. 1. Respondents have answered and argue that the Petition
should be dismissed on the merits, Ans., ECF No. 9, in
response to which Verge has filed a Reply, ECF No. 10. An
evidentiary hearing is not necessary See Rule 8(a),
Rules Governing Section 2254 Cases in the United States
District Courts; Loc. R. 105.6 (D. Md.); 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)).
Verge also filed a Motion to Appoint Counsel. ECF No. 12.
Under Rule 8(c) of the Federal Rules Governing § 2254
Habeas Corpus cases, “[i]f an evidentiary hearing is
required the judge shall appoint counsel for a petitioner who
qualifies for the appointment of counsel.” Having
determined that an evidentiary hearing is not necessary,
Verge's Motion to Appoint Counsel also is denied. The
Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus shall be denied on the
merits, and a certificate of appealability shall not issue.
“‘snatched the money' from the cash register
of Dollar Tree, a commercial establishment” on
September 29, 2009; he was arrested on February 19, 2010 and
charged with robbery with a deadly weapon. Post-Conviction
Mem. Op. 1-2 (Balt. Cty. Cir. Ct. Jan. 7, 2014), Ans. Ex. 3,
ECF No. 9-3; Warrant Application Aff., ECF No. 1-10. Trial
originally was set for July 30, 2010, postponed four times,
and ultimately set for May 10, 2011. Pet. 11.
10, 2011, Verge's trial counsel encouraged him to plead
guilty because he was facing a possible sentence of life
without the possibility of parole, and Verge entered a guilty
plea pursuant to North Carolina v. Alford, 400 U.S.
25 (1970), to the charge of robbery with a deadly weapon in
the Circuit Court for Baltimore City. Id. That day,
the court held a guilty plea hearing and sentenced Verge to
eighteen years' incarceration, but did not exclude the
possibility of parole. Guilty Plea Hr'g Tr., Ans. Ex. 8,
ECF No. 9-8; Post-Conviction Mem. Op. 1.
support of the guilty plea, the State provided the following
narrative describing the evidence it would rely upon if Verge
had opted to proceed to trial:
[O]n September 29, 2009 at approximately 8:12 p.m. at 6812
Reisterstown Road Dollar Tree Store in Baltimore City,
Officer Cross, responded for an armed commercial robbery
call. She met with the victim, Ms. Nicole Terry, who advised
that a man came up behind her register and put a hard metal
silver object to her back stating shut up. The suspect
reached into the register which was open and took
approximately $320.00 U.S. currency without permission.
The suspect dropped some of the money, then picked it up
before leaving the store. Ms. Terry called 911 and reported
the robbery. Detectives responded. Ms. Terry advised the
suspect had also dropped a popcorn bag before committing the
robbery. The popcorn bag was processed by Crime Lab. Latent
prints were recovered from the bag. Store video surveillance
showed the suspect entering the store wearing a Yankees cap
and a dark, long-sleeved t-shirt.
Detective Savage posted wanted flyers in and around the
location. Savage received information that Defendant Craig
Verge . . . was the suspect who committed the robbery. Latent
prints that were recovered off the popcorn bag matched
Defendant's right thumb and left ring finger.
Detective Savage compared the images from the store
surveillance to the Defendant's MVA photo and observed a
likeness. Mr. Verge was arrested on February 19th, 2010. A
search and seizure warrant was executed on . . . the home
where Mr. Verge was living at the time.
Detectives recovered a Yankees cap, a marked Echo brand dark
in color long-sleeved t-shirt which actually had a white
rectangular design on the front which was the shirt worn by
the suspect . . . as well as silk nylon caps, a loaded silver
38 caliber revolver, ammunition, among other property.
Later that day, Defendant Verge waived Miranda, gave a taped
confession to the robbery, though he denied using a handgun
or any weapon. As part of the confession, Defendant Verge
signed a still surveillance photo writing, “that's
Id. 64:13- 66:13. One month later, Verge requested a
re-interrogation, waived his Miranda rights again,
and recanted previous statements he made indicating that
other people, including the victim, were involved in the
robbery. Id. at 66:14-19.
claims that he is entitled to federal habeas corpus relief
because (1) the prosecution violated Brady v.
Maryland, 373 U.S. 83 (1963), by not timely disclosing
exculpatory information; (2) trial counsel was ineffective
for (A) failing to investigate the case adequately and (B)
failing to advise him properly with regard to pleading
guilty; (3) his state-law right to a speedy trial was
violated; and (4) an agreement he had with a police officer
was breached. Pet. 8-14. He had raised all of these issues in
his petition for post-conviction relief and supplements
thereto in state court. See Post-Conviction Mem. Op.
1; Supp. Pets. Post-Conviction Relief, Resp't's
Opp'n Ex. 2, ECF No. 9-2. When the state court denied
that petition as it pertained to these claims, Verge sought
leave to appeal, raising all but the Brady issue.
Appl. for Leave to Appeal Post-Conviction Mem. Op., Ans. Ex.
4, ECF No. 9-4. The Maryland Court of Special Appeals denied
the application for leave to appeal by unreported opinion
issued on August 12, 2015. Md. Ct. Spec. App. Op., Ans. Ex.
5, ECF No. 9-5.
federal habeas statute at 28 U.S.C. § 2254 sets forth a
highly deferential standard for evaluating state-court
rulings. See 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 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
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).
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 that 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 ...