United States District Court, D. Maryland
W. Grimm United States District Judge.
challenges his 2015 guilty plea and conviction for
solicitation to commit first degree murder in this Petition
for Writ of Habeas Corpus filed pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
2254, which he later supplemented. Pet., ECF No. 1; Supp.,
ECF No. 3. Respondents filed an Answer to the Petition
seeking denial of the Petition. ECF No. 7. Before the Court
imposed limitations on the length of Enow's filings, as
discussed in note 1, Enow filed a 44 page handwritten Reply,
ECF No. 11, along with 119 pages of exhibits. The case is
briefed and ready for adjudication. After careful review, I
deem a hearing unnecessary to resolve the issues.
See Rule 8(a), Rules Governing Section 2254
Cases in the United States District Courts; and Local
Rule 105.6 (D. Md. 2014); see also 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)).
and Sentencing Hearings
January 9, 2015, Enow pleaded guilty before the Honorable
Steven G. Salant in the Circuit Court for Montgomery County,
Maryland, to one count of solicitation to commit first degree
murder. State v. Enow, Case No. 125462C (Cir. Ct.
Montgomery Cty.). He pleaded guilty after swearing under oath
that he understood the nature of the charge to which he was
pleading guilty, his sentencing exposure, and the rights he
was waiving by pleading guilty. He swore in open court that
he was in fact guilty of solicitation to commit first degree
murder, was pleading guilty without threats of coercion, and
was freely and voluntarily entering his plea. Plea Hr'g
Tr., ECF No. 6-2 in Enow Habeas I.
the prosecutor informed the Court during the plea hearing
that Enow and the State had agreed to propose a binding
“sentence of 40 years to include 20 years of executed
incarceration and 20 years suspended.” Plea Hr'g
Tr. 3-4, 6, 11; State Ct. Docs. 29-30, ECF No. 9-3 in
Enow Habeas I. The prosecutor explained the sentence
in the plea agreement was two years above the guidelines, and
offered to discuss the criteria set for in the sentencing
guidelines manual. Plea Hr'g Tr. 4.
the lengthy plea colloquy, Enow informed the Court that he
holds a doctorate of science in cybersecurity. Id.
at 7. Enow told the Court that he had been considering
pleading guilty for about seven months, had read the charging
document, and had a full opportunity to discuss this charge
with his attorney. Id. at 10. Enow acknowledged he
understood that he was waiving his right to trial by entering
the plea. Id. at 12-18. Enow told the Court that he
suffers from depression, but stated that his condition is
effectively managed with medication. Id. at 8-9.
Enow informed the Court that he understood his plea and the
plea proceedings. Id. He indicated that his
medication did not impede his understanding or ability to
make informed choices. Id.
Court stated the maximum sentence for the offenses charged
was life imprisonment. Reply, ECF No. 6 in Enow Habeas
I; State Ct. Docs. 27, ECF No. 1-2 in Enow Habeas
II. Enow told the Court that he was satisfied with his
attorney's legal representation. State Ct. Docs. 27, ECF
No. 1-2 in Enow Habeas II. Enow represented to the
Court that his attorney had reviewed with him the elements of
solicitation to commit first degree murder. Plea Hr'g Tr.
10. The State read aloud the elements of the offense in open
court. Id. at 19. Enow confirmed he was pleading
guilty to solicitation to commit first degree murder because
he was guilty of the offense. Id. at 18. The Court
accepted Enow's guilty plea to solicitation to commit
first degree murder as entered freely and voluntarily, and
because he was, in fact, guilty of the offense. Id.
at 18, 28.
State proffered that had the case gone to trial, the evidence
presented would have shown that on June 3, 2014, an informant
told the police that Enow had offered to pay the informant to
kill Enow's ex-wife, Glory, in Montgomery County,
Maryland. Id. at 19. The police then arranged a
meeting between Enow and an undercover officer, who posed as
a hitman for hire.
6, 2016, Enow offered the undercover police officer $1, 000
to kill Glory. That meeting was recorded on audio and video
equipment. Enow and the undercover officer then drove to the
victim's neighborhood to survey the area. Enow gave the
undercover officer a $300 deposit and photographs of Glory to
identify her. After arrest, Enow agreed to talk to the police
and admitted that he had solicited his wife's murder.
Id. at 19-23.
February 27, 2017, Judge Salant sentenced Enow pursuant to
the plea agreement to forty years of incarceration with all
but twenty years suspended, and five years of supervised
release. Per the plea agreement, the State entered a
nolle prosequi to the remaining count against
Enow. State Ct. Docs. 60, ECF No. 1-2 in
Enow Habeas II; State Ct. Docket 7, ECF No. 8-1 in
Enow Habeas II; State Ct. Docs. 29, ECF No. 9-3 in
Enow Habeas I.
March 23, 2015, Enow filed an Application for Leave to Appeal
his guilty plea in which he argued that his
counsel provided ineffective assistance and his
plea was not knowing and voluntary. ECF No. 7-1. The Court of
Special Appeals of Maryland summarily denied the Application
for Leave to Appeal by unreported opinion filed on August 12,
2015. State Ct. Docs. 1-2, ECF No. 9-3 in Enow Habeas
I; State Ct. Docket 8. Enow did not pursue appellate
initiated state post-conviction proceedings on July 23, 2015.
The post-conviction proceedings were held in abeyance pending
a determination on Enow's Application for Leave to
Appeal. State Ct. Docket 11-12. Following the denial of
Enow's Application for Leave to Appeal, the Circuit Court
for Montgomery County held a hearing on his Petition for
Post-Conviction Relief on October 19, 2016. Id. at
20. Enow claimed that his guilty plea was not voluntarily
entered, he was illegally entrapped, the police committed a
wiretap violation, and he received ineffective assistance of
plea counsel. State Ct. Docs. 2, ECF No. 1-2 in Enow
Habeas II. On December 28, 2016, the Circuit Court
denied post-conviction relief. Id. at 5; State Ct.
January 13, 2017, Enow filed an Application for Leave to
Appeal the denial of his Petition for Post-Conviction Relief.
ECF No. 7-2. Enow raised the following claims: (1) he was
subjected to an illegal wiretap; (2) his guilty plea was not
knowing and voluntary; and (3) his counsel provided
ineffective assistance. Id. On June 23, 2017, the
Court of Special Appeals summarily denied Enow's
Application, and the mandate issued on July 31, 2017.
See Denial of Appl. for Leave to Appeal 1-2, ECF No
1-1; Mandate, ECF No. 11-1. Respondents do not dispute that
Enow has exhausted his claims per 18 U.S.C. §
2254(b)(1)(A). Resps.' Answer 13.
raises the following claims in this Petition: (1) the
indictment was based on “false evidence” and
unlawful wiretapping; (2) his guilty plea was not entered
voluntarily and knowingly; and (3) he was provided
ineffective assistance of counsel.
federal habeas statute, 28 U.S.C. § 2254, as amended,
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, 455 (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 Harrington v.
Richter, 562 U.S. 86, 102 (2011) (“If this
standard is difficult to meet, that is because it was meant
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 “arrives
at a conclusion opposite to that reached by [the Supreme]
Court on a question of law, ” or “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). 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)). A federal habeas court may not issue the writ simply
because it concludes that the relevant state-court decision
applied established federal law incorrectly. Renico ...