United States District Court, D. Maryland
CALVIN F. CURRICA, #354-168, Petitioner,
WARDEN RICHARD MILLER, et al., Respondents.
Paula Xinis United States District Judge.
before the Court is Calvin F. Currica's Petition for Writ
of Habeas Corpus filed pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. ECF
No. 1. Currica, proceeding pro se, challenges the validity of
his conviction and the sentence imposed after pleading guilty
to second degree murder and carjacking in the Circuit Court
for Montgomery County, Maryland. As directed by this Court,
Respondents have supplemented their Answer and filed exhibits
not initially submitted. ECF No. 15. Currica has also
replied. ECF No. 18. The Court finds a hearing unnecessary.
See Loc. R. 105.6; see also Rule 8(a),
Rules Governing Section 2254 Cases in the United States
District Courts; 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)). For the following reasons, the
Court dismisses Currica's petition and declines to issue
a certificate of appealability.
March 14, 2008, Currica was indicted in the Circuit Court for
Montgomery County in No. 109922 for murder and robbery with a
dangerous weapon. On March 20, 2008, Currica was separately
indicted in No. 109946 for multiple counts of carjacking,
kidnapping, robbery, and first degree assault, as well as
conspiracy to commit and attempt to commit those crimes. ECF
No. 12-1 at 2. On August 11, 2008, Currica, who was then
represented by counsel, entered a guilty plea in both cases
pursuant to a written plea agreement. Id. at 11; ECF
No. 15-1 at 2. Currica pleaded guilty to one count of second
degree murder in No. 109922, amended down from a first degree
murder charge, and two counts of carjacking in No. 109946.
ECF No. 12-1 at 11; ECF No. 15-1 at 2. Counsel for Currica
and the State sent a joint plea memorandum to the Circuit
Court for Montgomery County, which included a line stating:
“Guidelines: Thirty to Fifty-One Years.” ECF No.
15-2 at 1.
plea hearing, the court acknowledged that the pertinent
guidelines, as noted in the memorandum, were “30 to 51
years.” ECF No. 12-2 at 3 (Plea Hearing Transcript).
The court expressly advised Currica, however, that
“[w]hen you are charged with second degree murder,
which is what the charge will be changed to, you are liable
for a maximum penalty of 30 years in jail or less depending
on what I determine, and you can be placed on probation for
any suspended sentence I might impose.” Id. at
10. As to the carjacking charges, the court similarly
explained to Currica that “each of these charges
carries the possibility of being put in jail for up to 30
years. Once again, I can impose whatever sentence, including
jail time and a period of suspended jail time, if I wish to
do so.” Id. at 11. Currica confirmed that he
understood the court's advisement. Id. at 10-11.
Currica also confirmed that was entering his guilty plea
“freely and voluntarily.” Id. at 12.
November 18, 2008, Currica appeared for sentencing.
See ECF No. 12-3 (Sentencing Hearing Transcript).
Currica's attorney urged the court to impose a sentence
within the guidelines, which “were calculated together
with the State.” Id. at 12. The Assistant
State's Attorney, however, recommended a sentence above
the guidelines. ECF No. 12-3 at 38-40. Ultimately, the court
sentenced Currica to 30 years' confinement for the second
degree murder count, followed by 30 years for one carjacking
offense (Count 1), and 25 years for second carjacking (Count
9), all to run consecutively for a total of 85 years'
imprisonment. Id. at 56. As grounds, the court
noted Currica's use of gratuitous violence and that he
committed the crimes in quick succession over a short period
of time. Id. at 55-56.
sentencing, Currica mounted a series of challenges to his
prison term. On November 21, 2008, Currica filed an
Application for Sentence Review by a three-judge panel, which
was denied on September 2, 2009, and a Motion for
Reconsideration of Sentence which was denied on May 7, 2013.
ECF No. 12-1 at 13-15. On June 19, 2012, Currica filed a
Motion to Correct an Illegal Sentence, which was denied on
July 16, 2012. ECF No. 12-1 at 14.
2, 2014, Currica filed a pro se Petition for Post-Conviction
Relief, which he amended on September 22, 2014, to assert the
(1) the State and Circuit Court breached the plea agreement
by recommending, and imposing, a sentence higher than the 51
years noted in the guidelines range; and
(2) trial counsel provided ineffective assistance by failing
to file an Application for Leave to Appeal his Convictions.
ECF No. 12-4 at 1-3; ECF No. 12-5. After a hearing on the
petition, the Circuit Court granted in part and denied in
part Currica's claims. ECF No. 12-7 at 43-45. The court
rejected Currica's contention that a breach of the
agreement occurred, but granted his ineffective assistance of
counsel claim on the grounds that his defense counsel failed
to appeal his original conviction and sentence, as Currica
had demanded. Id. As relief, Currica was given
thirty days to file a belated Application for Leave to
Appeal. Id. at 45.
with the Circuit Court's order, Currica filed an
Application for Leave to Appeal, which the Maryland Court of
Special Appeals summarily denied on August 12, 2015. ECF No.
15-4 at 2. Currica also filed an Application for Leave to
Appeal the Denial of Post-Conviction Relief as to his breach
of plea agreement claim, which the Court of Special Appeals
also summarily denied on August 12, 2015. ECF No. 15-3 at 2.
Currica's final effort to obtain relief in state court, a
petition for writ of certiorari, was also summarily denied by
the Court of Appeals of Maryland on October 28, 2015. ECF No.
12-1 at 19.
September 26, 2016, Currica filed his habeas petition before
this Court, challenging the validity of his guilty plea and
imposition of the prison term which, in his view, exceeded
the terms of his plea agreement. ECF No. 1 at 8-14.
Respondents urge this Court to deny the Petition, arguing the
state court properly determined that the plea agreement was
not breached and that Currica's plea was otherwise
constitutionally sound. ECF Nos. 15, 17.
Standard of Review
Court may grant a petition for a writ of habeas corpus only
to address violations of the Constitution or laws of the
United States. 28 U.S.C. § 2254(a). In this regard,
a federal court reviewing a habeas petition that has already
been adjudicated on the merits in state court [must] give
considerable deference to the state court decision. A federal
court may not grant habeas relief unless the state court
arrived at 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 “a decision that was based on ...