United States District Court, D. Maryland
J. MESSITTE, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Steven Wayne Harris, presently incarcerated at the Garrett
County Detention Center, filed a Petition for Writ of Habeas
Corpus. ECF 2. He attacks his September 20, 2017 conviction
in the District Court for Garrett County, Maryland for
fourth-degree sexual offense. Id. Respondents have
filed an Answer and offered the docket sheet outlining
proceedings relating to Harris's criminal case. ECF 6.
Harris has not replied. ECF 8. After reviewing the Petition
and Answer, the Court finds no need for an evidentiary
hearing. See Rule 8(a), Rules Governing Section
2254 Cases in the United States District Courts; see
also 28 U.S.C. § 2254(e)(2). For the reasons set
forth below, the Petition shall be denied without prejudice
and a certificate of appealability shall not issue.
September 20, 2017, Harris pleaded guilty to one count of
fourth-degree sexual offense, and was sentenced to three
years of incarceration with 18 months suspended and two
years' probation. ECF 6-1; ECF 2 at 1-2. He asserts that
his conviction and sentence are unjustified because: (1) he
should not have sentenced as a subsequent or repeat offender;
(2) the prosecutor and judge held a “grudge”
because of his previous conviction to burn down the
prosecutor's home and office; (3) DNA testing was not
done; and (4) his sentence, which also includes three years
of supervised probation and registration as a sex offender,
is disproportionate for a misdemeanor conviction. ECF 1 at 1.
He asks this Court to reduce his sentence to time served and
strike the requirement for probation, on grounds that his
misdemeanor sentence should not have exceeded one year. ECF 1
seeking federal habeas corpus relief under 28 U.S.C. §
2254, a petitioner must show that all of his claims have been
presented to the state courts. See 28 U.S.C. §
2254(b) and (c); see also Preiser v. Rodriguez, 411
U.S. 475, 491 (1973). This exhaustion requirement is
satisfied by seeking review of the claim in the highest state
court with jurisdiction to consider it. For a person
convicted of a criminal offense in Maryland this may be
accomplished either on direct appeal or in post-conviction
exhaust a claim on direct appeal in non-capital cases, it
must be raised in an appeal, if one is permitted, to the
Maryland Court of Special Appeals and then to the Maryland
Court of Appeals by way of a petition for writ of certiorari.
See Md. Cts. & Jud. Proc. Code Ann.,
§§ 12-201 and 12-301. If an appeal of right is not
permitted, as in cases where a guilty plea is entered,
exhaustion can be accomplished by filing an application for
leave to appeal to the Court of Special Appeals. See
Md. Cts. & Jud. Proc. Code Ann., § 12-302(e). If the
Court of Special Appeals denies the application, there is no
further review available and the claim is exhausted.
See Md. Cts. & Jud. Proc. Code Ann., §
12-202. However, if the application is granted but relief on
the merits of the claim is denied, the petitioner must file a
petition for writ of certiorari to the Court of Appeals.
Williams v. State, 292 Md. 201, 210-11 (1981).
form Petition and Respondents' exhibit, it is apparent
that Harris did not seek to appeal his sentence and has not
presented his claims through the State post-conviction
process Thus, it is clear the claims asserted are unexhausted
and must be dismissed without prejudice.
this Court dismisses a habeas petition solely on procedural
grounds, a certificate of appealability will not issue unless
the petitioner can demonstrate both “(1) ‘that
jurists of reason would find it debatable whether the
petition states a valid claim of the denial of a
constitutional right' and (2) ‘that jurists of
reason would find it debatable whether the district court was
correct in its procedural ruling.'” Rouse v.
Lee, 252 F.3d 676, 684 (4th Cir. 2001) (quoting
Slack v. Daniel, 529 U.S. 473, 484 (2000)). Harris
fails to meet this standard.
these reasons, a separate Order shall be entered dismissing
the Petition without prejudice and denying a certificate of
 Because the claims are unexhausted,
the Court declines to examine whether they are
constitutionally cognizable. Claims that do not assert a
violation of federal or constitutional law generally provide
no basis for habeas corpus relief under 28 U.S.C. §
2254(d)(1), and thus are not cognizable in federal court.
See generally Wilson v. Corcoran, 131 S.Ct. 13, 14
(2011) (“Federal courts may not issue writs of habeas
corpus to state prisoners whose confinement does not violate
federal law.”); Spencer v. Murray, 18 F.3d
237, 239-40 (4th Cir. 1994) (claim regarding admissibility of