United States District Court, D. Maryland
W. GRIMM UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
is Jose Antonio Gemeil's Petition for a Writ of Habeas
Corpus filed pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254, challenging
his state convictions for armed robbery and theft. ECF No.
1.Because I find that Gemeil's claims are
not cognizable on federal habeas review, are unexhausted, and
are procedurally defaulted, the Petition will be denied and
dismissed. A certificate of appealability shall not issue.
November 24, 2015, a jury sitting in the Circuit Court for
Caroline County, Maryland, found Gemeil guilty of robbery
with a dangerous weapon, theft, second degree assault, and
attempting to flee or elude police in a vehicle. The Circuit
Court sentenced him to twenty-five years of imprisonment.
State v. Gemeil, No. 05-K-15-010807 (Cir. Ct.
Caroline Cty); see also ECF No. 4-1 (docket sheet).
appealed, raising two claims of error: (1) the trial court
failed to strike three potential jurors for cause; and (2)
the trial court erred in admitting video evidence without
proper authentication. ECF No. 4-2 at 2. By unreported
opinion filed on November 8, 2017, the Court of Special
Appeals of Maryland affirmed the convictions. Id. Of
particular import, Gemeil did not file a petition for a writ
of certiorari to the Maryland Court of Appeals. ECF No. 1 at
2. Gemeil filed this § 2254 petition on November 9,
presents two claims for federal habeas corpus relief: (1) the
trial court abused its discretion by refusing to strike
jurors 25, 61, and 124; and (2) the trial court failed to
authenticate the video surveillance. ECF No. 1 at 5.
of § 2245 Review
federal habeas statute provides that a district court
“shall entertain an application for a writ of habeas
corpus in behalf of a person in custody pursuant to the
judgment of a State court only on the ground that he is in
custody in violation of the Constitution or laws or treaties
of the United States.” 28 U.S.C. § 2254(a). In
order for a claim to be cognizable on § 2245 review, a
petitioner must assert a violation of federal statutory law
or of the United States Constitution. See Wilson v.
Corcoran, 562 U.S. 1, 1 (2010); Larry v.
Branker, 552 F.3d 356, 368 (4th Cir. 2009) (“[I]t
is not the province of a federal habeas court to reexamine
state-court determinations on state-law questions. In
conducting habeas review, a federal court is limited to
deciding whether a conviction violated the Constitution,
laws, or treaties of the United States.”) (quoting
Estelle v. McGuire, 502 U.S. 62, 67-68 (1991)).
“The role of a federal habeas court is to guard against
extreme malfunctions in the state criminal justice systems,
not to apply de novo review of factual findings and to
substitute its own opinions for the determinations made on
the scene by the trial judge.” Davis v. Ayala,
135 S.Ct. 2187, 2202 (2015) (internal marks and citations
federal habeas statute provides 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
to be.”). A 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).
claims in this Petition do not allege a violation of federal
statutory or constitution law. The Petition presents
essentially the same claims of error that Gemeil raised on
direct appeal, and those claims were rejected based on
Maryland law. See ECF No. 4-2 at 6, 11, 13, 18-22.
It is not the role of this federal court to second guess
those conclusions. See Rose v. Hodges, 423 U.S. 19,
21-22 (1975). Therefore, Gemeil's claims are not
cognizable under § 2254(a).
Petition also fails because he failed to exhaust state court
remedies. The exhaustion doctrine, codified at 28 U.S.C.
§ 2254(b)(1), “is principally designed to protect
the state courts' role in the enforcement of federal law
and prevent disruption of state judicial proceedings. Under
our federal system, the federal and state courts [are]
equally bound to guard and protect rights secured by the
Constitution.” Rose v. Lundy, 455 U.S. 509,
518 (1982) (alteration in original) (internal citations and
quotation marks omitted). Moreover, “it would be unseemly
in our dual system of government for a federal district court
to upset a state court conviction without an opportunity to
the state courts to correct a constitutional violation . . .
.” Id. Thus, the Rose Court cautioned
litigants, “before you bring any claims to federal
court, be sure that you first have taken ...