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Moment v. State

United States District Court, D. Maryland

January 18, 2018




         Michael Moment is incarcerated at Western Correctional Institution in Cumberland, Maryland.[1] On December 14, 2016, he filed a Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus, which he later supplemented, challenging his 2011 judgment of conviction in the Circuit Court for Montgomery County, Maryland for intimidating or corrupting officers of the court and threatening state officials. Pet., ECF No. 1; Supp. Pet., ECF No. 6. Respondents filed a Response arguing that the Petition should be denied because the claims presented are procedurally defaulted and lack merit. Resp't's Resp., ECF No. 5. Moment filed a Reply. ECF No. 12. No evidentiary hearing is necessary. See Rule 8(a), Rules Governing Section 2254 Cases in the United States District Courts; see also 28 U.S.C. § 2254(e)(2). I find that Petitioner's claims are procedurally defaulted and his arguments lack merit based on the findings of the State Court. Therefore, the Petition IS DENIED and DISMISSED.[2]


         On August 8, 2011, a jury in the Circuit Court for Montgomery County convicted Moment of two counts of intimidating or corrupting an officer of the court and ten counts of threatening a state official. State Ct. Docket 117643C, Entry No. 126.[4] Moment represented himself at trial. Post-Conviction Statement of Reasons and Order of Court (“Stat. Reas. & Or.”) 2, 10, ECF No. 1-1. On November 7, 2011, the Circuit Court sentenced Moment to five years of incarceration followed by five years of probation with the remainder of his time suspended. State Ct. Docket 117643C, Entry No. 145; see also Moment v. Morgan, Civil Action No. WDQ-14-3039, ECF No. 5-5 (Moment v. Maryland, No. 1445 (Md. Ct. Sp. App. Sept. Term 2011)) (“Md. Ct. Spec. App. Unreported Case”). On December 24, 2015, Moment was released from prison. Stat. Reas. & Or. 16. On March 3, 2016, a bench warrant was issued against Moment for a violation of his probation and on August 2, 2016, he was found to have violated his probation. State Ct. Docket 117643C, Entry Nos. 245, 278. On February 13, 2017, Judge Jackson resentenced Moment to serve three counts concurrently and four counts consecutively for a total of 19 years imprisonment. Id. at 306.


         Direct Appeal

         Moment raised three claims on direct appeal: 1) whether the trial court erred in failing to conduct a competency evaluation; 2) whether the trial court committed plain error by allowing the state to introduce prejudicial and inadmissible evidence at trial; and 3) whether the evidence was legally sufficient to convict him. Pet. 2.

         The Maryland Court of Special Appeals affirmed Moment's conviction in an unreported opinion filed on August 19, 2013. Md. Ct. Spec. App. Unreported Case; Pet. 2-3. The Court of Appeals of Maryland vacated the decision, granted Moment's Petition for Writ of Certiorari, and remanded the matter to the Court of Special Appeals for further review in light of that Court's intervening opinions in Wood v. State, 81 A.3d 427 (Md. 2013) and Kennedy v. State, 85 A.3d 106 (Md. 2014), which addressed competency evaluations. Moment v. State, 86 A.3d 1274 (Md. March 24, 2014) (table). On May 12, 2014, the Court of Special Appeals found there was sufficient evidence at trial to support the jury's conclusion that Moment committed the offenses for which he was charged and the trial court did not err in not making a competency determination, and issued a second opinion which affirmed Moment's conviction. Md. Ct. Spec. App. Unreported Case 24-27, 40; see also Pet. 2-3.

         Moment, through his appellate counsel, filed a Petition for a Writ of Certiorari, seeking review of the Court of Special Appeals' resolution of the competency issue. Moment v. Morgan, No. WDQ-14-3039, ECF No. 5-6. In a separately filed pro se petition, Moment asked the Court of Appeals to review issues not previously raised on direct appeal. Id. On August 28, 2014, the Court of Appeals denied both the counselled and pro se requests for certiorari review. Id. Moment did not pursue review before the United States Supreme Court. Consequently, his judgment became final for the purpose of direct appeal on November 26, 2015. 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d)(1) (stating that judgment becomes final upon “conclusion of direct review or the expiration of the time for seeking such review”); Sup. Ct. Rule 13.1 (A Petition for Writ of Certiorari must be filed no later than 90 days after entry of judgment from which review is sought).

         State Post-Conviction Proceedings

         On March 5, 2012, Moment initiated post-conviction proceedings in the Circuit Court for Montgomery County. On August 20, 2012, the Circuit Court for Montgomery County transferred the case to the Circuit Court for Prince George's County for the limited purpose of conducting a hearing. State Ct. Docket 117643C, Entry Nos. 173, 183.

         In his post-conviction litigation before the Circuit Court for Montgomery County, Moment argued that 1) he “was forced to proceed to trial without counsel” in violation of his rights under the 5th, 6th, 8th, and 14th Amendments; 2) the indictment, trial, conviction, and sentencing were unlawful because a Prince George's County judge presided over the trial while sitting in Montgomery County Circuit Court; 3) the State tampered with evidence presented at trial; and 4) the evidence was insufficient to sustain his convictions. Stat. Reas. & Or. 4; see also Pet. 3. During the post-conviction hearing, Moment also argued that Rene Joy, Assistant State's Attorney for Prince George's County, lacked jurisdiction to indict him in Montgomery County and, as a result, his trial, conviction, and sentence were unlawful. Stat. Reas. & Or. 4 n.3.

         The Honorable Krystal Q. Alves held a hearing on the Petition for Post-Conviction Relief on December 10, 2015. On October 14, 2016, Judge Alves denied Moment's claims for relief finding that he could not raise an ineffective assistance of counsel claim having waived his right to counsel, that venue in Montgomery County was proper, that he failed to establish that the State tampered with evidence, and that his challenge to the sufficiency of evidence was barred by res judicata. Stat. Reas. & Or. 10-15. Moment did not file a timely application for leave to appeal this decision, and the decision became final on November 13, 2016.[5] See Md. Rule 8-204 (Applications for Leave to Appeal to the Court of Special Appeals must be filed within 30 days after the entry of judgment or order from which the appeal is sought).

         PETITIONER'S ...

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