Woodfolk v. Maynard, No. 15-6364

CourtUnited States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (4th Circuit)
Writing for the CourtGREGORY, Chief Judge
Citation857 F.3d 531
Docket NumberNo. 15-6364
Decision Date23 May 2017
Parties Corey Lorenzo WOODFOLK, Petitioner-Appellant, v. Gary D. MAYNARD, Sec. of Corr.; The Attorney General of the State of Maryland; Douglas F. Gansler, Respondents-Appellees.

857 F.3d 531

Corey Lorenzo WOODFOLK, Petitioner-Appellant,
v.
Gary D. MAYNARD, Sec.
of Corr.; The Attorney General of the State of Maryland; Douglas F. Gansler, Respondents-Appellees.

No. 15-6364

United States Court of Appeals, Fourth Circuit.

Argued: January 24, 2017
Decided: May 23, 2017


ARGUED: Christopher Brett Leach, GIBSON, DUNN & CRUTCHER LLP, Washington, D.C., for Appellant. Edward John Kelley, OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL OF MARYLAND, Baltimore, Maryland, for Appellees. ON BRIEF: Joanna Silver, OFFICE OF THE FEDERAL DEFENDER, DISTRICT OF MARYLAND, Greenbelt, Maryland; Thomas G. Hungar, David A. Schnitzer, GIBSON, DUNN & CRUTCHER LLP, Washington, D.C., for Appellant. Brian E. Frosh, Attorney General of Maryland, OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL OF MARYLAND, Baltimore, Maryland, for Appellees.

Before GREGORY, Chief Judge, KING, Circuit Judge, and DAVIS, Senior Circuit Judge.

Vacated and remanded by published opinion. Chief Judge Gregory wrote the opinion, in which Judge King and Senior Judge Davis joined.

GREGORY, Chief Judge:

In March 1988, Corey Lorenzo Woodfolk pleaded guilty in the Circuit Court for Baltimore City to attempted murder and a related firearm offense. Several months after his plea, Woodfolk sought relief from his criminal judgment on the ground that his trial counsel, who represented both Woodfolk and his codefendant, had brokered a deal with the prosecution, whereby

857 F.3d 536

Woodfolk would plead guilty to allow his codefendant to go free. Woodfolk alleged that his guilty plea resulted from his trial counsel's disabling conflict of interest and therefore was constitutionally infirm.

Woodfolk's troubling claim has evaded merits review throughout a tortuous history of proceedings in the nearly 30 years since his original plea, culminating in the 28 U.S.C. § 2254 proceedings giving rise to this appeal. In the proceedings below, the district court concluded that Woodfolk's petition was both filed outside the one-year statute of limitations applicable to § 2254 petitions and procedurally defaulted by operation of an independent and adequate state procedural bar. We disagree. For the reasons that follow, we vacate the district court's judgment and remand for further proceedings to address the merits of Woodfolk's ineffective assistance of counsel claim.

I.

On June 14, 1987, Woodfolk and another young man, Cornelius Langley, were involved in an altercation in a parking lot in Baltimore, Maryland. During the altercation, an off-duty police officer observed Woodfolk draw a handgun. According to this officer, Woodfolk pulled the trigger, but the gun did not fire. Woodfolk and Langley were arrested, and Woodfolk was charged with attempted murder. Both Woodfolk and Langley retained attorney Michael Vogelstein to represent them.

Woodfolk later would testify that Vogelstein initially expressed optimism about Woodfolk's chances of success at trial. But on March 4, 1988, while Woodfolk waited in a holding cell in the courthouse on the first day of his scheduled trial, Vogelstein advised Woodfolk that he had arranged an agreement with the State. According to that agreement, Woodfolk would plead guilty; Langley would provide a statement to the court inculpating Woodfolk, and Langley's case would be placed on the stet docket,1 allowing him to go free. Woodfolk, then 18 years old, was resistant to accepting the agreement, but he eventually acceded to Vogelstein's advice.

That day, Woodfolk pleaded guilty to attempted murder and use of a handgun in the commission of a crime of violence. After accepting his guilty plea, the circuit court sentenced Woodfolk to ten years' imprisonment, with five years suspended, on the attempted murder count and a concurrent term of five years' imprisonment, suspended, on the handgun count, to be followed by five years' probation. Woodfolk did not appeal his conviction based on his guilty plea.

On June 3, 1988, represented by new counsel, Woodfolk filed a motion for reduction or modification of sentence pursuant to Maryland Rule 4-345. In the motion, Woodfolk argued that his criminal judgment was tainted by Vogelstein's disabling conflict of interest. At an October 1988 hearing, upon the court's advice, Woodfolk withdrew the Rule 4-345 motion and orally moved for a new trial. The court granted Woodfolk's motion for a new trial based on his conflict-of-interest allegations. Pursuant to an agreement between the parties, Woodfolk pleaded guilty that same day to attempted murder and wearing and carrying a handgun. The court sentenced Woodfolk to 15 years' imprisonment, with all but 18 months suspended, on the attempted murder count and a concurrent 18 months' imprisonment on the handgun count, to be followed by five years' probation. Based on

857 F.3d 537

the time Woodfolk had already served in prison on these charges, the new judgment ended his active term of incarceration.

Woodfolk was convicted in 1994 on unrelated federal charges and sentenced to 50 years' imprisonment.2 That conviction triggered a violation of the terms of his state probation. Later that year, Woodfolk pleaded guilty in Maryland circuit court to a probation violation. He was sentenced to three years' imprisonment on the attempted murder count and a concurrent 18 months' imprisonment on the handgun count, to be served consecutively to his federal sentence.

Beginning in 1995, Woodfolk filed various petitions for postconviction relief in Maryland circuit court, attempting to challenge his October 1988 criminal judgment. As relevant to this appeal, Woodfolk filed a postconviction petition in June 1998, which the circuit court denied in 2000. The Maryland Court of Special Appeals summarily denied Woodfolk's petition for leave to appeal that judgment in 2001. Woodfolk sought to reopen his postconviction proceedings in 2005, but that petition also was denied.

Woodfolk filed a 28 U.S.C. § 2254 petition in federal district court in 2002, again challenging his October 1988 judgment. The district court dismissed the petition as untimely, and this court denied a certificate of appealability and dismissed the appeal of that judgment. See Woodfolk v. State of Md. Dep't of Corr. , 122 Fed.Appx. 78 (4th Cir. 2005) (No. 04-7748).

In January 2006, Woodfolk filed a motion to correct an illegal sentence in the Maryland circuit court, again challenging his October 1988 judgment. That motion was unsuccessful in the circuit court; however, on June 6, 2007, the Court of Special Appeals reversed. It concluded that the circuit court had lacked authority to grant Woodfolk's motion for a new trial in October 1988, as the motion was orally made and untimely. Further, it concluded, the circuit court was prohibited from increasing Woodfolk's sentence when considering his timely Rule 4-345 motion for reduction or modification of sentence. In remanding to the circuit court, the Court of Special Appeals explained that it was

not ... vacating appellant's convictions. "In a criminal case, if the appellate court reverses the judgment for error in the sentence or sentencing proceeding, the Court shall remand the case for resentencing ." Md. Rule 8-604(d)(2) (emphasis added). Under the circumstances of this case, we are persuaded that the appropriate procedure is to reinstate appellant's motion to modify sentence, which the [circuit court in October 1988] suggested he voluntarily withdr[aw], nunc pro tunc . That motion can then be considered on remand.

Woodfolk v. Maryland , No. 2836, at 9 (Md. Ct. Spec. App. June 6, 2007) (unpublished).

On November 12, 2008, the circuit court held a hearing to address the Court of Special Appeals' remand order. The parties discussed at length the procedural posture of the case, the scope of the remand order, and Woodfolk's state postconviction proceedings. Woodfolk requested that the circuit court reimpose the sentence he had originally received in March 1988 to permit him to pursue a postconviction challenge to his March 1988 guilty plea based on Vogelstein's alleged conflict of interest. The court granted this request and reimposed the March 1988 sentence but ran the sentence consecutive to Woodfolk's

857 F.3d 538

federal sentence. The circuit court issued a new commitment order that expressly superseded prior commitment orders issued on March 4 and October 28, 1988.

Woodfolk filed a petition for postconviction relief in Maryland circuit court, at the latest, on January 20, 2009,3 again arguing that his March 1988 plea was constitutionally invalid due to Vogelstein's conflict of interest. The court held a hearing on that petition, at which Woodfolk testified. The State presented no evidence but, in response to Woodfolk's allegations, argued that Woodfolk had procedurally defaulted his claim and that the claim failed on its merits.

The circuit court denied the petition. It concluded that Woodfolk had waived his ineffective assistance claim under Md. Code Ann., Crim. Proc. § 7-106(b)(1)(i) by failing to challenge his guilty plea in an application for leave to appeal his March 1988 conviction. Woodfolk filed an application for leave to appeal the circuit court's postconviction ruling, which the Court of Special Appeals summarily denied in January 2012. After Woodfolk filed a motion...

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60 practice notes
  • Lawlor v. Zook, No. 17-6
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (4th Circuit)
    • 27 Noviembre 2018
    ...a state prisoner’s habeas claims, we look to "the last reasoned decision of a state court addressing the claim." Woodfolk v. Maynard , 857 F.3d 531, 544 (4th Cir. 2017) (internal quotation marks omitted). Thus, we look to Lawlor I , the Virginia Supreme Court’s decision on direct appeal.III......
  • Pevia v. Bishop, Civil Action No. ELH-16-1223
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. United States District Court (Maryland)
    • 26 Julio 2019
    ...reasoned decision of a state court addressing the claim.'" Lawlor v. Zook, 909 F.3d 614, 626 (4th Cir. 2018) (quoting Woodfolk v. Maynard, 857 F.3d 531, 544 (4th Cir. 2017) (internal quotation marks omitted)). InPage 14 this case, Pevia presented his sufficiency claim to the Maryland Court ......
  • Barnett v. United States, 3:17-cv-477-FDW
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. Western District of North Carolina
    • 12 Junio 2020
    ...that, but for counsel's conflicted representation, the outcome of the proceeding would have been different." Woodfolk v. Maynard, 857 F.3d 531, 553 (4th Cir.Page 16 2017) (citing United States v. Nicholson, 611 F.3d 191, 195 (4th Cir. 2010)). An actual conflict exists when a petitioner show......
  • Barnett v. United States, 3:17-cv-477-FDW
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. Western District of North Carolina
    • 12 Junio 2020
    ...that, but for counsel's conflicted representation, the outcome of the proceeding would have been different." Woodfolk v. Maynard, 857 F.3d 531, 553 (4th Cir.Page 16 2017) (citing United States v. Nicholson, 611 F.3d 191, 195 (4th Cir. 2010)). An actual conflict exists when a petitioner show......
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63 cases
  • Lawlor v. Zook, No. 17-6
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (4th Circuit)
    • 27 Noviembre 2018
    ...prisoner’s habeas claims, we look to "the last reasoned decision of a state court addressing the claim." Woodfolk v. Maynard , 857 F.3d 531, 544 (4th Cir. 2017) (internal quotation marks omitted). Thus, we look to Lawlor I , the Virginia Supreme Court’s decision on direct appeal.I......
  • Pevia v. Bishop, Civil Action No. ELH-16-1223
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. United States District Court (Maryland)
    • 26 Julio 2019
    ...decision of a state court addressing the claim.'" Lawlor v. Zook, 909 F.3d 614, 626 (4th Cir. 2018) (quoting Woodfolk v. Maynard, 857 F.3d 531, 544 (4th Cir. 2017) (internal quotation marks omitted)). InPage 14 this case, Pevia presented his sufficiency claim to the Maryland Court of S......
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    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (4th Circuit)
    • 26 Julio 2022
    ...petitioner's habeas claims, we look to "the last reasoned decision of a state court addressing the claim." Woodfolk v. Maynard , 857 F.3d 531, 544 (4th Cir. 2017) (internal quotation marks omitted). Thus, we look to trial court's decision on PCR review. In this case, even if we as......
  • Barnett v. United States, 3:17-cv-477-FDW
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. Western District of North Carolina
    • 12 Junio 2020
    ...that, but for counsel's conflicted representation, the outcome of the proceeding would have been different." Woodfolk v. Maynard, 857 F.3d 531, 553 (4th Cir.Page 16 2017) (citing United States v. Nicholson, 611 F.3d 191, 195 (4th Cir. 2010)). An actual conflict exists when a petitioner......
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