Grandison v. State, 117

CourtCourt of Appeals of Maryland
Citation38 A.3d 352,425 Md. 34
Docket NumberSept. Term,2010.,No. 117,117
PartiesAnthony GRANDISON v. STATE of Maryland.
Decision Date22 February 2012

38 A.3d 352
425 Md. 34

STATE of Maryland.

No. 117

Sept. Term


Court of Appeals of Maryland.

Feb. 22, 2012.

[38 A.3d 354]

Bradford C. Peabody, Assistant Public Defender (Paul B. DeWolfe, Public Defender, Baltimore, MD), on brief, for Appellant.

James E. Williams, Asst. Atty. Gen. (Douglas F. Gansler, Atty. Gen. of Maryland, Baltimore, MD), on brief, for Appellee.

[38 A.3d 355]

Argued before BELL, C.J., HARRELL, GREENE, ADKINS, LAWRENCE F. RODOWSKY (Retired, Specially Assigned), IRMA S. RAKER (Retired, Specially Assigned), and ALAN M. WILNER (Retired, Specially Assigned), JJ.


[425 Md. 38] In his sixth journey to the Court of Appeals, Anthony Grandison, a prisoner on death row for his role in a pair of 1983 murders, presents various requests for relief.1 His previous appeals have resulted in one order denying an appeal and four published opinions, the latest in 2005. 2 Since this [425 Md. 39] Court last ruled on Grandison's case, he has made numerous motions to keep the case active in the Maryland courts, and he has fired several lawyers during the pendency of those motions. The Circuit Court for Somerset County (“Circuit Court”) evaluated his motions: (1) to reopen postconviction proceedings; (2) to correct an illegal sentence; (3) for a new resentencing hearing or, alternatively, to file a belated appeal; and (4) for a new trial. After consideration, the Circuit Court dismissed the motions and denied Grandison relief.

Meanwhile, the Circuit Court granted his motion to fire two appointed attorneys from the Office of the Public Defender, and he proceeded pro se for part of the aforementioned collateral proceedings.3 Now, Grandison argues that he had a right to counsel for those proceedings, and has requested that he be appointed counsel by the Office of the Public Defender, so that he may go back and litigate the denied collateral claims with the benefit of counsel.

Grandison also appealed the denial of the motions, on the merits, to the Court of Special Appeals, which transferred the case to this Court on December 15, 2010.4

Grandison presents nine questions for our review:

1. Was Appellant deprived of his right to counsel, in a capital case, after he filed various motions seeking a new trial, a reopened post conviction, or a new sentencing?

2. Where Appellant was entitled to a hearing on the question of whether the State engaged in racial discrimination in exercising peremptory strikes, and where his appellate counsel failed to make that argument, did the court below [425 Md. 40] err in failing to rule on whether his post conviction should be opened for consideration of those issues?

3. Should the rule of evidence announced in Crawford v. Washington be applied retroactively in Maryland?

4. From the pre-marking of two mitigating circumstances on the sentencing

[38 A.3d 356]

form, could the jurors have inferred a finding by the Court that only two mitigating circumstances existed or merited serious consideration?

5. Should Appellant have either a new resentencing or a belated appeal, where a letter that was not admitted into evidence was sent to the jury and characterized by the State as a critical piece of evidence?

6. At Appellant's 1984 trial, was the jury instruction on reasonable doubt plain error?

7. Do the constitutional prohibitions against ex post facto laws preclude the retroactive application to Appellant of any new execution regulations?

8. Was it an abuse of discretion to deny the motion for new trial?

9. Was the death sentence illegal, where the aggravating circumstance occurred after the murders had already been committed?

The State has moved to dismiss Questions Two, Three, Four, and Six. For reasons explained below, we shall deny the State's motion to dismiss these four questions. We shall also hold that Grandison did not have a right to counsel during the collateral proceedings. We shall affirm the denial and dismissal of Grandison's motions by the Circuit Court.

Facts and Legal Proceedings

Grandison's case was most recently before this Court in Grandison V. 5 By way of introduction, in that case we described much of the early procedural history of this matter:

[425 Md. 41] The appellant, Anthony Grandison, was convicted of hiring Vernon Evans, Jr. to murder David Scott Piechowicz and Cheryl Piechowicz on April 28, 1983 at the Warren House Motel located in Baltimore County, Maryland; however, because Ms. Piechowicz was ill, her sister, Susan Kennedy, who was filling in for her, was murdered in her stead. Grandison was convicted of first degree murder of both victims and was sentenced to death. This Court has, in four previous opinions, rejected Grandison's various challenges to his trial, convictions, and sentences.Grandison V, 390 Md. at 416, 889 A.2d at 368. This Court also summarized some of the previous opinions, which we present here once again:

On November 1, 1990, Grandison filed a petition, pursuant to Md.Code (1957, 1987 Repl.Vol., 1990 Cum.Supp.), Art. 27, § 645A, in the Circuit Court for Somerset County seeking post conviction relief. On July 31, 1992, the circuit court granted such relief, ordering a new capital sentencing proceeding on Grandison's convictions of first degree murder. Relying upon the Supreme Court's decision in Mills v. Maryland, 486 U.S. 367, 108 S.Ct. 1860, 100 L.Ed.2d 384 (1988), the circuit court granted the requested relief on the grounds that the sentencing form and related jury instructions employed at Grandison's first sentencing proceeding offended the dictates of the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution that the death penalty not be imposed where there are mitigating factors which may call for a less severe penalty. The circuit court also decided that Grandison was entitled to retroactive application of the Mills decision. The State applied to this Court

[38 A.3d 357]

for leave to appeal from the circuit court's grant of post conviction relief as to the death sentences, and Grandison filed a cross-application seeking review of the circuit court's denial of collateral relief on the underlying convictions. We denied both applications. [425 Md. 42] Grandison v. State, Misc. No. 29, Sept. Term 1992 (order filed October 23, 1992). The Supreme Court denied a petition and cross-petition for writ of certiorari on March 22, 1993. Maryland v. Grandison, 507 U.S. 985, 113 S.Ct. 1581, 123 L.Ed.2d 149 (1993); Grandison v. Maryland, 507 U.S. 985, 113 S.Ct. 1581, 123 L.Ed.2d 149 (1993).

In 1993, Grandison filed a number of motions in the circuit court to bar his re-sentencing on double jeopardy grounds. The circuit court denied these motions and Grandison's subsequent request for a stay of the re-sentencing proceeding pending an appeal of the circuit court's ruling on his motions. Grandison then applied to the Court of Special Appeals for a stay of the re-sentencing. On May 11, 1994, the matter was transferred to this Court. We issued an order denying the requested stay. Grandison v. State, Misc. No. 20, Sept. Term, 1994 (order filed May 12, 1994).

* * *

Grandison's re-sentencing proceeding began on May 24, 1994 and lasted eight days. The prosecution presented the same evidence that it had introduced at Grandison's guilt/innocence trial including testimony from Cheryl Piechowicz, Charlene Sparrow, James Savage, and Calvin Harper, which was essentially identical to their testimony in the 1984 trial. The State also introduced testimony from Janet Moore for the first time during the re-sentencing proceeding. Moore's testimony corroborated the statements made by Sparrow regarding the events of the two days immediately prior to the murders. She also stated that she heard Grandison tell Kelly to take Evans to the Warren House and show him “who the white couple was.” At the conclusion of Grandison's capital re-sentencing proceeding, on June 3, 1994, a Somerset County jury imposed two death sentences. This Court affirmed the death sentences in [ Grandison III ].

Id. at 420–21, 889 A.2d at 370–71.

Grandison then filed a petition for postconviction relief in the Circuit Court, which eventually denied relief. This Court denied Grandison's application for leave to appeal and his [425 Md. 43] motion to reconsider denial of his application for leave to appeal. See Grandison IV, 351 Md. at 732, 720 A.2d at 322. Grandison also petitioned for federal habeas relief, which was denied. See generally Grandison v. Corcoran, 78 F.Supp.2d 499 (D.Md.2000), appeal dismissed at 225 F.3d 654 (4th Cir.2000), cert. denied 532 U.S. 996, 121 S.Ct. 1658, 149 L.Ed.2d 640 (2001).

Beginning in 1999, Grandison filed several motions in Circuit Court, including a motion for a new trial, motion to correct an illegal sentence, and a pro se motion to reopen postconviction proceedings. See Grandison V, 390 Md. at 421, 889 A.2d at 371. The Circuit Court held evidentiary hearings and then denied Grandison's motions in their entirety. See id. at 422, 426–27, 889 A.2d at 372, 374. This Court affirmed those denials. Id. at 448, 889 A.2d at 387.

Continued Motions

After we decided Grandison V, Grandison's pursuit of further relief continued unabated. He first filed a motion on February 3, 2006, to reopen his postconviction proceedings, in which he argued that: (1) several items in the State's evidence were

[38 A.3d 358]

deficient under Crawford v. Washington, 541 U.S. 36, 124 S.Ct. 1354, 158 L.Ed.2d 177 (2004); (2) the trial court had erroneously pre-marked mitigating factors on a jury sentencing form; and (3) he received ineffective assistance of counsel.

Grandison concomitantly filed a Motion to Correct an Illegal Sentence, in which he made the same arguments about evidence under Crawford, the jury sentencing form, and ineffective assistance of counsel. Shortly thereafter, he filed an “Addendum to Motion to Reopen Post–Conviction Proceedings and Request for Hearing and Discovery.” In this addendum, he alleged statewide racial bias and...

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