United States District Court, D. Maryland
BENJAMIN E. VANCE, #412-850 Petitioner
WARDEN FRANK B. BISHOP and THE ATTORNEY GENERAL OF THE STATE OF MARYLAND Respondents
L. HOLLANDER UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Benjamin Vance filed a Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus.
ECF 1 (“Petition”). Respondents filed a
“Limited Answer” (ECF 9), supported by exhibits,
asserting that the Petition raises claims that have not been
exhausted and that there remains an available state remedy
for petitioner to litigate those claims. Id.
Further, respondents argue that unless Vance waives review of
the unexhausted claims, the Petition must be dismissed in its
entirety, without consideration of the merits of any of the
claims raised. Id.
Circuit Court for Prince George's, County, Maryland, a
jury convicted Vance of felony murder, armed robbery, and
unlawful use of a handgun. The circuit court sentenced him to
life imprisonment for felony murder, with a concurrent term
of twenty years of imprisonment for unlawful use of a
handgun. The armed robbery conviction was merged for
sentencing purposes. ECF 9-1 at 13-14.
noted a direct appeal to the Maryland Court of Special
Appeals and raised the following claims:
1. Did the trial court err in denying defense counsel's
Batson challenge where the State used all nine of
its strikes against African American females?
2. Did the trial court err in preventing the admission of
prior inconsistent statements made by David Hester?
3. Did the trial court err in admitting purported prior
inconsistent statements made by Travis Bonner?
4. Was the evidence insufficient to sustain the conviction
for use of a handgun in the commission of a felony?
5. Did the trial court err in permitting a firearms expert to
use a handgun capable of firing 9-millimeter cartridges as a
demonstrative [exhibit] during direct examination and  did
the trial court err in permitting the prosecutor to use a toy
handgun as a demonstrative in closing argument?
ECF 9-2 at 2, 7; ECF 11 at 2-3.
April 4, 2014, the Maryland Court of Special Appeals affirmed
Vance's convictions. Vance v. State, No. 448,
Sept. Term 2013; ECF 9-1 at 16; ECF 11-1. On June 19, 2014,
the Maryland Court of Appeals denied Vance's petition for
a writ of certiorari. Vance v. State, 238 Md. 741
(2014); ECF 9-1 at 21-22; ECF 9-2 at 116; ECF 9-3 at 2.
petition for writ of habeas corpus filed in the circuit court
on October 20, 2014, Vance claimed that his custody was
unlawful because of the manner in which the trial court
disposed of his pretrial motion to suppress. ECF 9-1 at 17;
ECF 9-3 at 4-6. The circuit court denied the habeas petition
on November 13, 2014, without a hearing. In an unreported
opinion filed on May 5, 2016, the Maryland Court of Special
Appeals dismissed Vance's appeal from this ruling as
barred by law. Vance v. State, No. 2225, Sept. Term
2014; ECF 9-3.
12, 2016, Vance filed a Motion for a New Trial under Md. Rule
4-331(b), alleging that the judge who granted the critical
postponement that scheduled his trial beyond the 180-day
deadline, embodied in Maryland Rule 4-271, was not properly
designated to do so by the administrative judge of the
Circuit Court for Prince George's County. ECF 9-4;
see Maryland Rule 6-103. The circuit court summarily
denied the motion, without a hearing, on July 22, ...