United States District Court, D. Maryland
THEODORE D. CHUANG UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Chadwick Lester, an inmate at Western Correctional
Institution in Cumberland, Maryland, has filed a petition for
a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254 in
which he collaterally attacks his 1999 convictions for
robbery and related offenses. Respondents have filed a
limited Answer in which they argue that the Petition should
be dismissed as untimely. Pursuant to Hill v.
Braxton, 277 F.3d 701 (4th Cir. 2002), Lester filed a
Reply to explain why the Petition should not be dismissed as
time-barred. Upon review of the submitted materials, the
Court finds no need for an evidentiary hearing. See
Rule 8(a), Rules Governing Section 2254 Cases in the United
States District Courts; D. Md. Local R. 105.6. For the
reasons set forth below, the Petition will be DISMISSED as
a jury trial in the Circuit Court for Harford County,
Maryland, Lester was convicted on January 29, 1999 of two
counts of armed robbery, two counts of robbery, two counts of
conspiracy to commit robbery, two counts of first degree
assault, use of a handgun in the commission of a crime of
violence, and theft of property valued at more than $300. The
court imposed a total sentence of 75 years of imprisonment,
with 15 years suspended. Lester timely appealed to the Court
of Special Appeals of Maryland and raised the following
issues for review: (1) whether the trial court imposed an
illegal sentence; (2) whether the trial court erred in
admitting "other crimes" evidence; (3) whether the
trial court erred in denying his motion to suppress an
extrajudicial photographic identification; and (4) whether
the trial court lacked jurisdiction because Lester was not
served with a charging document. In its April 7, 2000
opinion, the Court of Special Appeals concluded that a
portion of Lester's sentence was illegal, because
"the trial court should have sentenced appellant on only
one of his conspiracy convictions, not both of them."
Lester v. State, No. 401, Sept. Term 1999, slip op.
at 5 (Md. Ct. Spec. App. Apr. 7, 2000), ECF No. 7-2. The
court therefore vacated the portion of Lester's
sentence-a suspended term of 15 years of
imprisonment-corresponding with the second count of
conspiracy to commit robbery. The Court of Special Appeals
otherwise affirmed Lester's convictions. After the
mandate issued on September 19, 2000, Lester did not seek
further direct review by the Court of Appeals of Maryland.
April 13, 2009, Lester filed in the Circuit Court for Harford
County a state petition for post-conviction relief
("State Petition"), in which he asserted
ineffective assistance of counsel based on the allegation
that his trial counsel failed to object to the introduction
of other crimes evidence and to request a jury instruction.
The court denied the State Petition on August 6, 2010. Lester
did not seek appellate review of the denial.
to Lester, on May 30, 2012, he filed a "State Writ of
Habeas Corpus" in the Circuit Court for Harford County.
That petition was denied. On August 26, 2014, Lester sought
leave to appeal the denial of this state habeas action. That
request was still pending as of the filing of the instant
§ 2254 petition. On September 27, 2013, Lester filed in
the same circuit court a Motion to Correct Illegal Sentence
under Maryland Rule 4-345(a) in which he claimed that his
sentences were illegal because he was not brought to trial
within 120 days after he had filed a request, under the
Maryland Intrastate Detainer Act ("IDA"), for
"final disposition of the charges." Lester v.
State, No. 0579, Sept. Term 2014, slip op. at 1 (Md. Ct.
Spec. App. Feb. 5, 2015) (footnote omitted), ECF No. 7-3. The
circuit court denied the motion. On February 5, 2015, the
Court of Special Appeals affirmed.
filed the instant Petition on December 31, 2015. See
Houston v. Lack, 487 U.S. 266, 276 (1988) (holding that
a prisoner's submission is deemed to have been filed on
the date it was deposited in the prison mailing system). As
his sole ground for relief, Lester argues that "[t]he
State violated the Petitioner's Constitutional right to
Due Process when the circuit court granted the State's
June 23, 1998 postponement request in violation of the
mandatory provisions of the Intrastate Detainer Act"
such that the court lacked "jurisdiction to convict and
sentence the Petitioner." Pet. at 6, ECF No. 1.
their limited Answer, Respondents assert that the Petition
should be dismissed as time-barred because it was filed well
beyond the one-year limitations period of 28 U.S.C. §
2244(d). In particular, Respondents highlight that, after
Lester's conviction became final upon the conclusion of
direct review, there were no state post-conviction or other
collateral review proceedings pending in Lester's case
between: (1) October 4, 2000 and April 13, 2009 (over 8
years); (2) September 7, 2010 and September 27, 2013 (over
three years); and (3) March 9, 2015 and December 31, 2015
(over nine months). Some of these periods individually, and
all of them collectively, exceed one year. Lester
acknowledged that his Petition is untimely but asserted that
it should be considered because "at no time prior to the
Petitioner's conviction becoming final was the Petitioner
aware that the listed Constitutional violation existed"
(1) refusal by the State court to strike out an illegal
sentence is appealable to the Court of Special Appeals of Md.
and to the Court of Appeals of Md.; (2) Md. Ann. Code, Rule
4-345(a)-Illegal Sentence-creates a limited exception to the
general rule of finality, and sanctions a method of opening a
judgment otherwise final and beyond the reach of the court;
(3) the Petitioner is serving an illegal sentence; (4) the
State court lacked jurisdiction to convict and sentence the
Petitioner; and (5) it is more likely than not that no
reasonable juror would have convicted the Petitioner.
Pet. at 5-6. In his Reply, Lester reiterated that the
Petition should not be dismissed as time-barred because the
state court "lacked subject matter jurisdiction" to
sentence him, made "findings [that] were clearly
erroneous," and "imposed ... a sentence that is not
permitted by law." Reply at 2, ECF No. 10.
petition for a 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) (2012). However, a petition is
subject to the following statutory limitations period:
(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