United States District Court, D. Maryland
XINIS UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Marvin Huey Deshields, a state inmate currently confined at
the Jessup Correctional Institution (“JCI”) in
Jessup, Maryland, has filed a Petition for a Writ of Habeas
Corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241, seeking a
modification of his sentence. On August 10, 2018, Respondent
submitted a responsive pleading arguing, in part, that the
Petition should be dismissed for non-exhaustion. ECF No. 7.
On November 5, 2018, Deshields opposed dismissal (ECF No.
11), and moved to supplement or amend on November 9, 2018
(ECF No. 12). Deshields' Motion to Supplement/Amend shall
be granted, and the Clerk shall be directed to docket his
filing at ECF No. 12 as a Supplement to the Response at ECF
No. 11. For the reasons set forth below, however, the
Petition will be DENIED WITHOUT PREJUDICE and DISMISSED as
December 12, 2014, Deshields pleaded guilty in two separate
cases pending in the Circuit Court for Wicomico County,
Maryland. See State of Maryland v. Marvin Huey Deshields,
Sr., No. 22-K-14-000647 (“No. 647”) and
State of Maryland v. Marvin Huey Deshields, Sr., No.
22-K-14-000731 (“No. 731”). Deshields admitted
guilt to one count of possession of a controlled dangerous
substance with the intent to distribute in No. 647, and in
No. 731, to one count of distribution of a controlled
dangerous substance. See ECF No. 7-1 at 3-4; ECF No.
7-2 at 2-3. Deshields was sentenced in No. 647 to ten years
in prison consecutive to any sentence then being served. ECF
No. 7-1 at 4. In No. 731, he was sentenced to 20 years in
prison, with all but ten years suspended and four years of
probation, consecutive to the sentence imposed in No. 647.
ECF No. 7-2 at 3. Deshields did not seek appellate review of
his guilty pleas or sentences, nor did he file a petition for
post-conviction relief. See ECF Nos. 7-1, 7-2.
February 13, 2015, Deshields moved for a modification of
sentence in both cases. See id.; ECF No. 1 at 3. The
motions appear not to have been decided according to the
state court docket. Id. On November 7, 2017,
Deshields moved again for modification of sentence in both
cases, claiming that he was entitled to relief pursuant to
the Maryland Justice Reinvestment Act (“JRA”).
Id.; see also ECF Nos. 1 & 1-1. The
State opposed the motion, arguing that Deshields is not
eligible for relief under the JRA because he is not serving a
mandatory sentence. See ECF Nos. 7-1 at 10-11 &
7-2 at 9-10. On January 30, 2018, the Circuit Court denied
the motions for modification of sentence. Id.;
see also ECF Nos. 1-5, 1-6. On March 16, 2018,
Deshields appealed the denials of sentence modification, but
the Court of Special Appeals dismissed the appeals as
untimely filed. See ECF Nos. 7-1 at 12-13 & 7-2
current Petition, Deshields states that he was entitled to
relief under the JRA and that the Circuit Court improperly
denied his motion for modification without holding a hearing.
See ECF No. 1 at 8. He argues that the Circuit
Court's summary denial of his motion violates his rights
under the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States
Constitution. Id. As relief, he asks this Court to
direct that his sentences imposed in Nos. 647 and 731 run
concurrently rather than consecutively. Id. at 10.
argue that the Petition should be dismissed because Deshields
has failed to exhaust his claims in Maryland courts, has not
alleged a violation of the United States Constitution or
federal law, and because his claims are meritless.
See ECF No. 7 at 1. The Court will deny the Petition
and dismiss without prejudice for failure to exhaust state
a federal court may not consider a state prisoner's
petition for a writ of habeas corpus unless the prisoner has
first exhausted available state remedies, including
presenting the claim to the highest state court. Baker v.
Corcoran, 220 F.3d 276, 288 (4th Cir. 2000).
Specifically, under § 2241, courts require
“exhaustion of alternative remedies before a prisoner
can seek federal habeas relief” because a federal
habeas petition “is the avenue of last resort.”
Timms v. Johns, 627 F.3d 525, 530-31 (4th Cir.
2010). Absent the exhaustion of state remedies, the Petition
must be dismissed. See Rose v. Lundy, 455 U.S. 509,
520, 522 (1982).
prisoner challenging the manner in which his sentences have
been imposed may pursue two possible avenues of state court
relief. One way is for the prisoner to file a grievance with
the Inmate Grievance Office (“IGO”) challenging
the calculation of sentences or diminution credit, which may
be referred to an administrative law judge with the Office of
Administrative Hearings (“OAH”). Md. Code Ann.,
Corr. Servs. § 10-207 (2002). The OAH determination is
deemed to be the decision of the Secretary of Public Safety
and Correctional Services (“the Secretary”),
unless the OAH grants the prisoner's claim, in which case
the Secretary may affirm, reverse, or modify the OAH proposed
order. Id. § 10-209. The prisoner may then
appeal the Secretary's decision to the relevant Maryland
Circuit Court, and, if necessary, file an application for
leave to appeal the decision of the Circuit Court to the
Court of Special Appeals of Maryland. See
Adamson v. Corr. Med. Servs., Inc., 753 A.2d 501,
509-10 (Md. 2000); Md. Code Ann., Corr. Servs. §§
10-201 to 10-210. If the Court of Special Appeals grants the
application for leave to appeal but denies relief on the
merits, the prisoner must also seek permission to appeal to
the Court of Appeals of Maryland. See Baker, 220
F.3d at 288; Md. Code Ann., Cts. & Jud. Proc. §
12-201 to 12-202 (2011).
a prisoner who “alleges entitlement to immediate
release and makes a colorable claim that he or she has served
the entire sentence less any mandatory [diminution]
credits” may seek relief directly from Maryland courts
through a petition for a writ of habeas corpus. See Md.
House of Corr. v. Fields, 703 A.2d 167, 175 (Md. 1997),
abrogated on other grounds by Moats v. Scott, 751
A.2d 462 (Md. 2000); see also Md. Rule 15-302(a)(1).
If unsuccessful, the prisoner may appeal the Circuit
Court's decision to the Maryland Court of Special
Appeals, and may thereafter seek certiorari in the Maryland
Court of Appeals. See, e.g., Stouffer v.
Pearson, 887 A.2d 623, 625-26 (Md. 2005) (granting a
writ of certiorari and considering a claim of whether a
prisoner's sentence should be calculated so as to entitle
him to immediate release); Jones v. Filbert, 843
A.2d 908, 910 (Md. Ct. Spec. App. 2004) (considering an
appeal from a decision on a petition for a writ of habeas
corpus relating to the failure to credit diminution of
confinement credits); Md. Code Ann., Cts. & Jud. Proc.
Deshields has done neither. Although Deshields attempted to
challenge the denial of his motion to reconsider sentence,
the appeal was dismissed as untimely filed and Deshields has
taken no further action. Deshields, however, still may pursue
the above-described state court relief. Accordingly, this
Court's consideration of the Petition prior to
Deshields' exhaustion of state remedies is premature. The
Petition is dismissed without prejudice as unexhausted.
Certificate of Appealability
habeas petitioner is not automatically entitled to appeal a
district court's denial of the Petition. See 28
U.S.C. § 2253(c)(1). A certificate of appealability may
issue if the prisoner has made a “substantial showing
of the denial of a constitutional right.” 28 U.S.C.
§ 2253(c)(2). When a district court dismisses a petition
on procedural grounds, the petitioner must show that
reasonable jurists “would find it debatable whether the
petition states a valid claim of the denial of a
constitutional right” and “whether the district
court was correct in its procedural ruling.” Slack
v. McDaniel, 529 U.S. 473, 484 (2000). The Court
declines to issue a certificate of appealability because
Deshields has not made the requisite showing. Deshields may
still request that the United States Court ...