Coleman v. State

Decision Date01 October 2014
Docket NumberNo. 104, Sept. Term, 2012.,104, Sept. Term, 2012.
Citation219 Md.App. 339,100 A.3d 1234
PartiesOrlando Ray COLEMAN v. STATE of Maryland.
CourtCourt of Special Appeals of Maryland

Gary W. Christopher (Office of the Federal Public Defender, on the brief), Baltimore, MD, for appellant.

Mary Ann Ince (Douglas F. Gansler, Atty. Gen., on the brief), Baltimore, MD, for appellee.

Panel: KRAUSER, C.J., MEREDITH, and THIEME, RAYMOND G., JR. (Retired, Specially Assigned), JJ.



In 1999, Orlando Ray Coleman, appellant, pleaded guilty, in the Circuit Court for Anne Arundel County, to possession with intent to distribute cocaine. That court accepted the plea, found Coleman guilty, and sentenced him to a term of five years' imprisonment, with all but ten days suspended, to be followed by a period of five years of supervised probation. Twelve years later, Coleman filed a petition for writ of error coram nobis in the circuit court. In that petition, he asserted, for the first time, that his 1999 guilty plea was defective because, when he entered the plea, he was not advised of the maximum sentence he was facing or of the nature or elements of possession with intent to distribute. The denial of that petition by the Anne Arundel circuit court prompted this appeal.

19981999 Proceedings

In February 1998, Coleman was arrested and charged with possession with intent to distribute a controlled dangerous substance (crack cocaine), possession of a controlled dangerous substance (crack cocaine), and with resisting arrest. That same month, the Commissioner filed a report with the District Court of Maryland for Anne Arundel County certifying that, when Coleman appeared for his initial appearance, the Commissioner informed him “of each offense with which he [was] charged and of the allowable penalties, including mandatory penalties, if any.”

In April 1998, the case was transferred from the District Court to the Circuit Court for Anne Arundel County. The “Information” filed in the circuit court charged Coleman with the same offenses that were set forth in the Statement of Charges that had been filed in the District Court. This charging document also specifically noted that the penalty for possession with intent to distribute was “20yr/$25,000.”

On January 21, 1999, Coleman appeared in the Anne Arundel County circuit court with counsel for a plea hearing.1 At that hearing, the State informed the court that, pursuant to a plea agreement, Coleman would plead guilty to possession with intent to distribute cocaine and that, upon acceptance of that plea, the State would nol pros the remaining charges. The State further advised the court that it would be recommending a “lengthy sentence, the majority of it being suspended with only a small portion to be served at the Anne Arundel County Detention Center.” It then added that, because defense counsel had “done a lot of work in assisting Mr. Coleman in getting into a college on the Eastern Shore, as part of the [sentencing] recommendation” it “would be requesting that as part of the probation he complete the SAT's.” Moreover, it would not object if Coleman's probation were “to be transferred to the Eastern Shore” to accommodate his college schedule.

The court elicited from Coleman that he was then 19 years old, a high school graduate, and he was not under the influence of any drugs or medicine which might affect his understanding of the court proceedings that day. The court confirmed that Coleman understood the terms of the plea agreement, as reflected in the following exchange:

THE COURT: All right, sir, my understanding of the agreement that you made with the State as expressed by the State's Attorney was, that you would plead guilty to Count Number 1, which I understand to be possession with intent to distribute and the drug is cocaine. That the State would Nolle Pros, which is the same thing as dismissing any remaining counts in the indictment or information.
That the State is affirmatively recommending that you receive a lengthy jail sentence, mostly suspended and any unsuspended portion will be spent in the Anne Arundel County Detention Center. That you be placed on a period of supervised probation and the State requests that I order you to take your SAT Exam. Is that your understanding of the plea agreement, sir?

* * *

THE COURT: Do you understand that the Court is not bound by this recommendation made by the State and that the matters of sentencing and probation are completely up to the Court?

After ensuring that Coleman understood the rights he would be waiving by entering a guilty plea, the circuit court specifically advised him with respect to his appellate rights, that [t]he only thing that you would be able to do is file a motion for leave to appeal and it will be up to the Appellate Court as to whether they wish to grant you the right of appeal.” When asked if he understood that advisement, Coleman indicated that he did and then, when asked if he had any questions about his appellate rights, he responded that he did not.

As the court's examination of Coleman progressed, it asked him whether he had “had time to talk” with his attorney and whether he was “satisfied with the services” rendered by his counsel. Coleman replied: “Yes.” Upon completion of its examination, the court concluded that Coleman was entering his plea knowingly and voluntarily.

The State then proffered the following factual summary in support of that plea:

[O]fficers of the Annapolis City Police Department would have been called to testify. The sum and substance of their testimony would have been that on February 19th of 1998, Officers Amoya (phonetic), Lowe (phonetic) and Bristo (phonetic) were dispatched to 708 New Town Drive in Annapolis, Anne Arundel County, in reference to a report of subject in the area involved in controlled dangerous substance activity.
When the officers arrived they were in marked vehicle and uniform. Officer Amoya observed three subjects in the area. Officer Amoya got out of his vehicle [and] he began to approach, Defendant Orlando Ray Coleman, seated to the left of counsel in the navy blue sweatshirt jacket.
Mr. Coleman, on this date, was wearing blue nylon pants and a white sweatshirt. When the officer got out of his vehicle he asked Mr. Coleman if he lived in the neighborhood, Mr. Coleman said no. At this time as the officer was walking toward Mr. Coleman, Mr. Coleman had his hand in his back pocket, he retrieved and was handing before the officer actually asked for it, his identification, which was a Maryland driver's license. The officer made a call on the radio checking the identification. At that time the officer asked Mr. Coleman if he had any guns, drugs, weapons or any contraband on his person. Mr. Coleman indicated that he did not. The officer then asked for consent to search his person, Mr. Coleman stated, sure, I ain't got nothing on me.
At that point, the officer began a search of the Defendant's person, when the officer reached into Mr. Coleman's right front pocket he immediately retrieved a clear sandwich baggie that the officer observed contained numerous pink self sealing baggies that each had off white rock like substance in each of those baggies. The officer had no [sic] removed the bag completely from the pocket and as soon as the officer began pulling on the bag, Mr. Coleman began to pull away from the officer. He began running, a foot chase ensued with Officer Amoya and the other two officers. Mr. Coleman was apprehended and the bag, sent it to the laboratory for analysis, the analysis revealed that it was, in fact, 83 individual glassine baggies each containing what was analyzed and found to be cocaine, a Schedule 2 controlled dangerous substance. The total weight of the cocaine was 9.9 grams.
The State would call experts who've been qualified before this court in the area of controlled dangerous substance packaging, street value, distributing methods. That [sic] would testify that that quantity of cocaine, the way it was packaged and the close proximity that it was in and the $217 that Mr. Coleman had in his left pants pocket all would indicate an intent to distribute. And that quantity of cocaine would have a street value of approximately $1,000.
The events occurred in Anne Arundel County. The witnesses would identify the Defendant, Orlando Ray Coleman, standing left of counsel to be the person in possession of that quantity of cocaine.

(Emphasis added.)

After defense counsel stated that the foregoing factual summary was “a correct informational statement,” the court found Coleman guilty of the charge of possession with intent to distribute cocaine. When the court turned to the question of sentencing, the State advised that, although Coleman had no “adult criminal convictions,” he had “one juvenile adjudication that did involve a quantity of cocaine[.] Upon recommending nothing more than that the court “follow[ ] the recommendations,” the State fell silent.

Defense counsel next addressed the court. He stated that he had met with Coleman “on a consistent basis” prior to trial and that, when Coleman was “picked up on this particular case, ... he [Coleman] figured he'd get incarcerated for a large period of time—an enormous period of time and for that reason he had just sort of given up the hope of attending college.” Then after outlining, for the court, the steps he had taken to assist Coleman in furthering his education, he urged the court to permit Coleman “this opportunity to pursue that educational goal[.] The courtroom clerk thereupon noted that the sentencing guidelines in this case were “one to three ... because he [had] the one juvenile record.” The court subsequently sentenced Coleman to a term of five years' imprisonment. While that term of imprisonment was greater than the sentence recommended by the guidelines, “because of the quantity of cocaine in this case,” the court suspended all but ten days of that sentence and imposed a five-year period of...

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