Medina v. Bishop
MEMORANDUM OPINION. Signed by Judge Deborah K. Chasanow on 7/19/2021. (jj2, Deputy Clerk)
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IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF MARYLAND
FRANKLIN JAVIER MEDINA,
WARDEN JEFF NINES and
THE ATTORNEY GENERAL OF THE
STATE OF MARYLAND,
Civil Action No. DKC-18-1037
Petitioner Franklin Javier Medina, who is represented by counsel, filed a petition for writ
of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254 on April 10, 2018. ECF No. 1. The Petition, which
was amended on September 17, 2018, challenges Mr. Medina’s 2013 conviction in the Circuit
Court for Baltimore County, Maryland for attempted first- and second-degree rape and first- and
second-degree assault. ECF No. 10. Mr. Medina alleges violations of his Fourteenth Amendment
right to due process, citing Brady v. Maryland, 373 U.S. 83 (1963), and Sixth Amendment right to
effective assistance of counsel, citing Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668 (1984).
Respondents filed an Answer asserting that Mr. Medina’s claims do not merit federal habeas relief
under the applicable standards. ECF No. 17. Mr. Medina filed a reply disputing Respondents’
assertion. ECF No. 20.
The court finds no need for an evidentiary hearing. See Rule 8(a), Rules Governing Section
2254 Cases in the United States District Courts and Local Rule 105.6 (D. Md. 2016); see also
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 reasons that follow, Mr. Medina’s Petition is denied and a certificate
of appealability will not issue.
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As recounted by the Court of Special Appeals on Mr. Medina’s direct appeal from the
judgment of conviction, the prosecution’s evidence at trial established that:
On August 6, 2006, the complainant in this case, M.C., was then employed
as a manager at a massage center on York Road in Baltimore County. At
Appellant’s trial, M.C. testified that although she was licensed as a massage
therapist, her primary responsibilities at the time were as a cook, custodian, greeter,
and manager, while three other women who worked there conducted the massages.
M.C. spent each night at the business and was in her first floor bedroom at
the time of the incident in question. It was after 3:00 a.m., and M.C. had retired for
the night. She awoke when she “felt like somebody was staring at [her.]” M.C.
[whose testimony was partially received through a translator] continued:
So, I just cracked open my eyes. Then a man suddenly asked me,
“Do you want to f[..]k?” So I just instantly answered, “No.”
After then he put his knees here and pressing here and pressed my
neck with his both hands, then bit my face here [on the cheek]. Then
I felt in just a very short moment, I pray to God thinking I’m gonna
M.C. testified that she passed out and was in a state of unconsciousness for
several hours. She denied any consensual contact. After she awoke, M.C. went
across the street to a gas station and called the police. When asked whether she
could see her assailant, M.C. responded: “As [far] as I can remember, even though
I cannot [sic] clearly saw [sic] him, he was medium height, little long hair, and a
Officer Brian Goetz responded to the call and met M.C. at the gas station.
He recalled that M.C. appeared to be confused and incoherent. He testified that
M.C. “appeared to be badly beaten. She was bleeding from her nose, her eyes, and
her mouth. Her face was very swollen and black and blue. It also appeared as
though she had red marks around her neck on each side.” When Officer Goetz
spoke with M.C. at the hospital, M.C. appeared to be “unsure about a lot,” but could
nevertheless recall that the assailant wore a white T-shirt and that he “could have
been [w]hite.” Officer Zachary Slenker testified that, during the investigation in
the immediate aftermath of the assault, police recovered M.C.’s wallet next to a
dumpster of a nearby supermarket. Near the same shopping center, police found a
white T-shirt lying close to the sidewalk.
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Detective Dan Kuhns with the Special Victims Unit of the Baltimore
County Police Department testified that he met with M.C. at Sinai Hospital.
According to the detective,
[M.C.’s] face was extremely swollen. She had bruising around her
neck, she had bruising on her face, and she had what appeared to be
a bruise consistent with a bite mark on the left side of her face near
her eye. Her eyes were swollen shut, and there was a cut near her
right eye as well.
Ms. Linda Kelly, a SAFE [Sexual Assault Forensic Examination] nurse,
examined M.C. Ms. Kelly testified that, as part of the assessment, she
photographed M.C.’s injuries, and then collected swabs of the injured places on her
body. She identified two vaginal tears. Ms. Laura Pawlowski testified to the
serological and DNA tests performed by Ms. Jodine Zane on the fluid samples
collected by Ms. Kelly. Tests on vaginal and cervical swabs gave negative results
for blood and semen. However, tests on the facial bite mark swab indicated the
presence of blood and saliva. DNA profiles were obtained from the bite mark swab,
which indicated the presence of more than one individual’s DNA in the sample.
These DNA testing results were entered into the CODIS [Combined DNA Index
System] database on December 21, 2006.
Detective Kuhns testified that in the months following the assault, the police
considered several suspects who had been implicated because of their respective
roles in unrelated police investigations. Appellant was not, at the time, considered
a suspect. A comparison of the suspects’ DNA samples with the DNA sample
obtained from the bite mark on M.C.’s cheek did not produce a match. With their
leads exhausted, the Baltimore County police put the investigation on hold. No
further progress was made for five years.
A break came in August 2011, when Detective Kuhns was notified that a
male DNA profile recently entered into CODIS matched the DNA profile from the
bite mark licking swab taken from M.C. in 2006. The matching DNA profile
belonged to Appellant. Detective Kuhns then applied for a statement of charges
and an arrest warrant on August 10, 2011 for Appellant for the rape and robbery of
M.C., and police arrested Appellant the same day. Detective Kuhns also obtained
search and seizure warrants on September 26, 2011 and August 13, 2012 to collect
additional DNA samples from Appellant in the form of buccal swabs. The purpose
of these additional swabs was to compare his saliva and DNA taken directly from
Appellant’s mouth and to confirm that he was the contributor of the DNA that was
found in the bite mark that M.C. received in 2006.
Ms. Pawlowski described the DNA comparison process that implicated
Appellant in the 2006 assault. Appellant’s DNA could not be excluded as the
source of saliva present in the bite mark swab, although 99.9% of the African-
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American, Caucasian, Southwest Hispanic, and Southeast Hispanic populations
could be excluded. Ms. Pawlowski explained her testing and its results:
[PROSECUTOR:] When you compared the bite mark licking swabs
from the cheek of [M.C.] with the buccal swabs from [Appellant] . .
. what were the conclusions of your examination?
[MS. PAWLOWSKI:] For . . . the bite mark licking swab, I
compared my swab to the mixture that Ms. Jodi[n]e Zane had
originally detected in her analysis. My conclusion was that neither
[M.C.] or [Appellant] could be excluded from the mixture of DNA
that she had in that sample. I further said that if there were only two
people present in that mixture, it is consistent with being a mixture
of [M.C.] and [Appellant].
Making that statement means that I looked at that mixture, I
felt it was a two person mixture. Looking across the profiles from
[M.C.] and [Appellant], every allele is accounted for in that mixture.
There are no extra alleles, there’s nothing that is missing. I then
went on and did a statistical analysis of that profile.
If there are only two people present in that mixture, it’s
consistent with being a mixture of the DNA profile of [M.C.] and
Detective Kuhns testified that an investigation revealed that in 2006
Appellant resided on Cranbrook Road, approximately 1.1 miles from the crime
scene. The State introduced transcripts of jailhouse telephone conversations
between Appellant and his mother and girlfriend. Appellant told them that the
house was a massage place, and intimated that the goings on there were for more
than a massage. He disclosed that he had been to the massage center around the
time of the assault in 2006 but was not there on the day of the assault. He avowed
that he had not entered the business without permission.
After a four-day trial and four hours of deliberation, on July 19, 2013, the
jury found Appellant guilty of first- and second-degree assault and of attempted
first- and second-degree rape. Appellant was acquitted of first- and second-degree
rape, as well as first-degree burglary and robbery. On September 18, 2013, the trial
court imposed a sentence of life imprisonment and required him to register as a Tier
III sex offender.
Medina v. State, No. 13-1510, Sept. Term 2013 (Md. Ct. Spec. App. June 8, 2015); ECF No. 1019 at 2-8 (footnotes omitted). During sentencing, the trial court also denied Mr. Medina’s motion
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for a new trial, which had been filed in July 2013. Sentencing Transcript, ECF No. 10-17 at 2;
Mot. For New Trial, ECF No. 10-20 at 88-102.
Mr. Medina timely appealed to the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland, raising the single
claim that the trial court erred in limiting the cross-examination of M.C. See ECF No. 10-19 at 2.
On June 8, 2015, the Court of Special Appeals affirmed Mr. Medina’s convictions. Id. at 29. Mr.
Medina sought further review in the Court of Appeals of Maryland, but his petition for writ of
certiorari was denied by Order dated September 21, 2015. Pet., ECF No. 10-19 at 30-19; Medina
v. State, Pet. Docket No. 265, Sept. Term., 2015 (Md. Ct. App. Sept. 21, 2015), ECF No. 10-19 at
40. Mr. Medina did not seek review in the United States Supreme Court. See ECF No. 10-1 at 7.
On September 19, 2016, Mr. Medina filed a petition for post-conviction relief in the Circuit
Court for Baltimore County. SR 41-89. On April 17, 2017, he supplemented the petition to include
the following claims:
Trial counsel’s representation was constitutionally ineffective in failing to
present evidence that would have connected a black male in a white T-shirt
to the location where the Victim’s personal property was recovered.
Trial counsel’s representation was constitutionally ineffective for failing to
strike a juror who knew the primary officer.
Trial counsel committed a serious attorney error that prejudiced Mr. Medina
in failing to object to inadmissible hearsay statements from Officer Goetz
regarding statements made by the victim at the hospital.
That either (a) the State violated its duty under Brady v. Maryland, 373 U.S.
83 (1963), to disclose exculpatory evidence, or (b) Trial Counsel performed
deficiently under Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668 (1984), by failing
to investigate and discover evidence that: (i) three of the victim’s coworkers present at the time of the offense were interviewed and one
described a possible suspect as a young, black male, which contradicted the
victim’s description and was inconsistent with Medina’s appearance; (ii) a
homeless man sleeping near the crime scene observed a black male wearing
a white T-shirt running toward the location where the property was found;
(iii) the victim had been entertaining an unknown number of men on the
night of the assault; (iv) the victim contacted police on September 21, 2006,
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to report that she believed her attacker was “Joe,” an older white man who
was paid her at the request of her employer; and (v) that on September 22,
2006, the victim asked that police investigate Joe so as not to bring attention
to her from her boss, as he was involved in organized crime and she feared
for her safety were he to find out she was cooperating with police.
The cumulative effect of the preceding assignments of error entitles Mr.
Medina to post-conviction relief.
Pet. for Post-Conviction, ECF No. 10-19 at 41-89; Am. Pet., ECF No. 10-20 at 105-224. Following
a hearing on June 28, 2017, the post-conviction court denied Mr. Medina’s petition by
Memorandum Opinion and Order dated August 17, 2017. Post-Conviction Transcript, ECF No.
10-18; Medina v. State, Case No. K-11-004873 (Cir. Ct. Balt. Cnty. Aug. 17, 2017), ECF No. 1021 at 268-80.
On September 18, 2017, Mr. Medina sought leave to appeal from the denial of postconviction relief, raising the following questions in his application:
Whether the post-conviction court erred when it failed to address each
ground raised by Mr. Medina.
Whether the post-conviction court erred in how it applied the Strickland
standard to the inadmissible hearsay testimony of Officer Goetz that
provided key support for the attempted rape convictions.
Whether the post-conviction court erred in its ruling on Mr. Medina’s Brady
claims, by failing to articulate the legal basis for its decision, finding facts
that were not supported by the record, and in its conclusion that there was
Whether the post-conviction court’s factual findings were clearly
Whether the post-conviction court abused its discretion in finding that no
evidence was presented regarding prejudice and erred in applying well
settled principles of law to the facts of this case.
Application for Leave to Appeal, ECF No. 10-21 at 281-349. In an unreported per curiam decision,
the Court of Special Appeals summarily denied Mr. Medina’s request on April 3, 2018, with the
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mandate issuing on May 3, 2018. Medina v. State, No. 1544, Sept. Term 2017 (Md. Ct. Spec.
App. April 3, 2018), ECF No. 10-22 at 31-33.
CLAIMS FOR RELIEF
By his Amended Petition for writ of habeas corpus filed in this court, Mr. Medina claims
that he is being detained in state custody illegally.1 First, Mr. Medina alleges that the suppression
of material exculpatory evidence violated his right to due process pursuant to Brady. ECF No. 101 at 14-24. Specifically, he claims that the prosecutor suppressed four police reports that would
have impeached the victim’s credibility or supported the defense that someone else committed the
crimes. Id. at 14-18. Mr. Medina also asserts that the prosecutor violated Brady in failing to
reissue, or disclose a second time, its previous discovery when asked to do so by the defense a
month after the original issuance. Id. at 23-24.
Second, Mr. Medina claims that trial counsel rendered ineffective assistance pursuant to
Strickland because his “undisputed lack of knowledge regarding exculpatory evidence and his nonstrategic failure to object to inadmissible hearsay led to [the] conviction.” ECF No. 10-1 at 9-18,
24-29. In support of this assertion, Mr. Medina avers that if the prosecutor did comply with Brady
with regard to the four police reports, defense counsel was constitutionally ineffective for failing
to be aware of, and introduce, those reports at trial. Id. at 24-27. Mr. Medina also claims that
defense counsel was ineffective for failing to object to a hearsay statement of the victim, relayed
by an officer at trial, describing certain circumstances of the sexual assault. Id. 28-29.
According to the Department of Public Safety & Correctional Services, Mr. Medina is
presently confined at North Branch Correctional Institution, where the current warden is Jeff
Nines. Therefore, the Clerk will be directed to amend the docket to name the proper Respondent.
See Rumsfeld v. Padilla, 542 U.S. 426, 435 (2004) (stating that “in habeas challenges to present
physical confinement . . . the proper respondent is the warden of the facility where the prisoner is
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STANDARD OF REVIEW
An application for writ of habeas corpus may be granted only for violations of the
Constitution or laws of the United States. 28 U.S.C. § 2254(a). The federal habeas statute at 28
U.S.C. § 2254, as amended by the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 (“Act”),
sets forth 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). In order to obtain relief
on his claims, the petitioner must show that the adjudication of such claims at the state court level:
(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). The Act further provides that:
In a proceeding instituted by an application for a writ of habeas corpus by a person
in custody pursuant to the judgment of a State court, a determination of a factual
issue made by a State court shall be presumed to be correct. The applicant shall
have the burden of rebutting the presumption of correctness by clear and convincing
A state adjudication is contrary to clearly established federal law under § 2254(d)(1) where
the state court 1) “arrives at a conclusion opposite to that reached by [the Supreme] Court on a
question of law,” or 2) “confronts facts that are materially indistinguishable from a relevant
Supreme Court precedent and arrives at a result opposite to [the Supreme Court’s].” Williams v.
Taylor, 529 U.S. 362, 405 (2000) (citation omitted). Under the “unreasonable application”
analysis under 2254(d)(1), a “state court’s determination that a claim lacks merit precludes federal
habeas relief so long as ‘fairminded jurists could disagree’ on the correctness of the state court’s
decision.” Harrington v. Richter, 562 U.S. 86, 101 (2011) (quoting Yarborough v. Alvarado, 541
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U.S. 652, 664 (2004)). Thus, “an unreasonable application of federal law is different from an
incorrect application of federal law.” Id. (emphasis and citation omitted).
Mr. Medina claims that the State violated his due process rights, pursuant to Brady, when
it failed to include 755 pages of the 821-page set of discovery materials during its initial disclosure,
and again when it declined to reissue, upon request, the previously disclosed discovery a month
after the original issuance. According to Mr. Medina, he was prejudiced by the suppression of the
evidence, as the missing pages contained information that would have bolstered his theory of
defense and cast doubt on the State’s case. Specifically, he cites to:
Officer Slenker’s August 6, 2006 report that included a witness statement
from a local homeless man who recalled seeing a black man wearing a white
shirt running through the woods on the morning of the incident. Medina
states that this information was consistent with the white shirt found in the
vicinity as well as the statement of one of the women in the massage center
who recalled seeing a black man with a white shirt running from the victim’s
Det. Kuhns’s August 21, 2006 report indicating that M.C. initially stated
that she had “some company” until 1 a.m., and a guest named Peter who left
at 3 a.m. Medina claims that this information would have been useful in
impeaching M.C.’s efforts to disclaim involvement in prostitution activities.
Det. Kuhns’s August 26, 2011 report noting a negative photo identification
of Medina by the victim.
Det. Kuhns’s and Det. Burrows’s reports dated September 21 and 22, 2006,
indicating that the victim believed someone else named Joe committed the
crime and suggested that her boss may kill her for cooperating with
“[T]he suppression by the prosecution of evidence favorable to an accused upon request
violates due process where the evidence is material either to guilt or punishment.” Brady, 373
U.S. at 87. “The Brady rule is based on the requirement of due process. Its purpose is not to
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displace the adversary system as the primary means by which truth is uncovered, but to ensure that
a miscarriage of justice does not occur.” United States v. Bagley, 473 U.S. 667, 675 (1985). To
prevail on a Brady claim, “[t]he evidence at issue must be favorable to the accused, either because
it is exculpatory, or because it is impeaching; that evidence must have been suppressed by the
State, either willfully or inadvertently; and prejudice must have ensued.” Strickler v. Greene, 527
U.S. 263, 281-82 (1999). There is no requirement that the guilty finding must be overturned unless
suppression of the impeachment evidence so limited the defense’s ability to cross-examine an
accusing witness that “its suppression undermines confidence in the outcome of the trial.” Bagley,
473 U.S. at 678.
From the record, it appears that prior to trial, Mr. Medina was originally represented by
attorney Gary Maslan. See Am. Pet., ECF No. 10 at 11. During Mr. Maslan’s representation of
Mr. Medina, he received an initial discovery package that included: (1) a cover letter from then
Assistant State’s Attorney Keith Pion to Maslan dated October 17, 2011; (2) an itemized inventory
of 295 documents contained on the second of seven compact discs; and (3) copies of the seven
discs. See Post-Conviction Transcript, ECF No. 10-18 at 134-35, 191-95; ECF No. 10-21 at 1430. Less than a month after the initial disclosure, attorneys Samuel Delgado and David Wooten
replaced Mr. Maslan as defense counsel for Mr. Medina. See ECF No. 10 at 11; ECF No. 10-18
at 198. They asked the State to reissue its October 17, 2011 discovery, which the prosecutor denied
after construing it as a request for continuing discovery, believing that Mr. Maslan was also still
representing Mr. Medina. ECF No. 10-18 at 198-99. In any event, Mr. Delgado acknowledges
having received from Mr. Maslan the seven discs, to which the detailed inventory was
ECF No. 10-18 at 135-43.
Following a post-trial request under
Maryland’s Public Information Act, however, Mr. Medina claims that the discs received by
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defense counsel contained only 66 pages of documentary evidence and did not include six file
folders containing 755 pages. See ECF No. 10-1 at 22-23.
During the post-conviction proceeding in state court, Mr. Medina argued that the State
committed a Brady violation by failing to provide defense counsel with the required discovery
materials. See ECF No. 10-21 at 54. He did not, however, produce the original compact disks at
the hearing. Thereafter, the post-conviction court rejected Mr. Medina’s argument, finding:
Mr. Maslan testified that he turned over to DelGado all of the discovery that his
office had received from the State in this matter.
Mr. DelGado retained attorney David Wooten to assist him in preparing the
case for trial. DelGado and Wooten visited Maslan’s office to discuss the case and
retrieve all discovery that had been provided by the State up to that point in time.
In addition to DNA testing results, counsel received evidence of telephone calls of
Petitioner’s conversations from the Baltimore County Detention Center that had
been recorded. DelGado and Wooten also received nine discs containing additional
documents provided by the State. DelGado, Wooten and a law clerk reviewed the
material received from Maslan as well as subsequent discovery provided by the
Evidence produced at the hearing in this matter revealed that the State,
either directly to DelGado or Maslan, provided discs that included more than 800
pages of documents. Defense counsel and the Assistant State’s Attorney
communicated regularly, and at no time prior to trial did defense counsel indicate
that he had not received an item in discovery. When, at trial, counsel claimed to
have not received reports from two of the police officers, the reports were
immediately provided and counsel was given as much time as he needed to review
them before cross examining the witness.
The Court is persuaded that defense counsel actually received all of the
discovery whether or not he actually reviewed it all himself prior to trial. Even if
there had been an inadvertent failure to provide some of the documents generated,
no prejudice has been demonstrated that would warrant relief.
Id. at 54-55.
The post-conviction court’s adjudication of Mr. Medina’s Brady claims was not based on
an unreasonable determination of the facts in light of the evidence presented in the State court
proceeding, nor was it based on an unreasonable application of clearly established Federal law as
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determined by the Supreme Court. As previously stated, to prevail on a Brady claim, the petitioner
must, at a minimum, establish that evidence was “suppressed by the State.” Strickler, 527 U.S. at
281-82. Here, the evidence presented at the post-conviction proceeding reflected that, in its initial
disclosure, the prosecutor gave defense counsel seven compact discs, an itemized inventory of 295
documents contained on the disks, and a cover letter stating that the documents listed in the detailed
inventory have been scanned to the disks. See ECF No. 10-18 at 135. Mr. Medina argued that the
disks did not include over 700 pages of documents; however, he did not present any evidence –
such as the disks he received – to support his assertion. Moreover, as the post-conviction court
notes, “at no time prior to trial did defense counsel indicate that he had not received an item in
discovery,” despite having received the detailed inventory. “[A] Brady violation has not occurred
if the defense is aware, or should have been aware, of impeachment evidence in time to use it in a
reasonable and effective manner at trial.” United States v. Parker, 790 F.3d 550, 562 (4th Cir.
2015) (citing United States v. Jeffers, 570 F.3d 557, 573 (4th Cir. 2009)); accord United States v.
Wilson, 901 F.2d 378, 381 (4th Cir.1990). Thus, the post-conviction court’s determination of the
facts was not unreasonable.
In any event, as explained below, this court agrees that “even if there had been an
inadvertent failure to provide some of the documents generated, no prejudice has been
demonstrated that would warrant relief.”2 ECF No. 10-21 at 55. Thus, even assuming that the
State had a duty to reissue the initial disclosure pursuant to defense counsel’s request, Mr. Medina
cannot prevail on his Brady claim because no prejudice ensued. See Strickler, 527 U.S. at 281-82.
The post-conviction court analyzed prejudice within the context of Medina’s ineffective
assistance claim, and this court shall do the same.
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Ineffective Assistance Claims
Mr. Medina claims that his trial counsel, Mr. Delgado, rendered ineffective assistance
because he lacked knowledge regarding exculpatory evidence found within the aforementioned
police reports and he failed to object to a hearsay statement of the victim, relayed by an officer at
trial, describing certain circumstances of the alleged assault.
When a petitioner alleges a claim of ineffective assistance of counsel, he must show both
that counsel’s performance was deficient and that the deficient performance prejudiced his
defense. Strickland, 466 U.S. at 687. Representation is deficient if it falls below “an objective
standard of reasonableness.” Id. at 688. To satisfy this first prong, it must be demonstrated that
counsel’s performance was not “within the range of competence normally demanded of attorneys
in criminal cases.” Id. at 687 (citations omitted). The standard for assessing such competence is
“highly deferential” and has a “strong presumption that counsel’s conduct falls within a wide range
of reasonable professional assistance.” Id. at 669. A federal court’s consideration of ineffective
assistance of counsel claims arising from state criminal proceedings is limited on habeas review
due to the deference accorded trial attorneys and state appellate courts reviewing their
performance. A defendant must overcome the “‘strong presumption’ that counsel’s strategy and
tactics fall ‘within the wide range of reasonable professional assistance.’” Burch v. Corcoran, 273
F.3d 577, 588 (4th Cir. 2001) (quoting Strickland, 466 U.S. at 689). “When § 2254(d) applies, the
question is not whether counsel’s actions were reasonable. The question is whether there is any
reasonable argument that counsel satisfied Strickland’s deferential standard.” Harrington, 562
U.S. at 105.
A showing of prejudice requires that 1) counsel’s errors were so serious as to deprive the
defendant of a fair trial whose result is reliable, and 2) there was a reasonable probability that, but
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for counsel’s unprofessional errors, the result of the proceedings would have been different.
Strickland, 466 U.S. at 690-94. “The benchmark of an ineffective assistance claim must be
whether counsel’s conduct so undermined the proper functioning of the adversarial process that
the trial cannot be relied upon as having produced a just result.” Id. at 686. A strong presumption
of adequacy attaches to counsel’s conduct, so strong in fact that a petitioner alleging ineffective
assistance of counsel must show that the proceeding was rendered fundamentally unfair by
counsel’s affirmative omissions or errors. Id. at 696. Thus, “[a] fair assessment of attorney
performance requires that every effort be made to eliminate the distorting effects of hindsight, to
reconstruct the circumstances of counsel’s challenged conduct, and to evaluate the conduct from
counsel’s perspective at the time.” Id. at 689.
In its Statement of Reasons and Order, the post-conviction court addressed Mr. Medina’s
ineffective assistance claims, stating in pertinent part:
Petitioner complains that trial counsel was ineffective for failing to elicit
from the officer that another man who had been sleeping behind the dumpsters saw
a black male wearing a white t-shirt run by him, discard the shirt, and run toward
nearby apartments. The Court disagrees. It was not necessary for counsel to elicit
that information since the DNA analysis was presented to the jury, including a
determination that the DNA extracted from the semen on the shirt was not that of
Petitioner. Thus, counsel did not err in failing to call an additional witness or to
question Officer Slenker in this regard since the pertinent information was already
before the jury and was uncontroverted. Even if counsel’s performance had been
deficient in this regard, there was absolutely no prejudice since the DNA analysis
was presented to the jury.
Relying upon the ruling in Muhammad v. State, 223 Md. App. 255 (2015),
Petitioner asserts that trial counsel in the present case was ineffective for failing to
object to inadmissible hearsay in the testimony of Officer Goetz regarding
statements made by the victim at the hospital. . . .
In the present case, the statement about which Officer Goetz testified
occurred shortly after the assault when the officer responded to the hospital to
determine whether the victim could identify the suspect. She indicated that the
attacker could have been white, had shoulder length hair and was wearing a white
t-shirt. Trial counsel testified at the post conviction hearing that he was ineffective
Case 8:18-cv-01037-DKC Document 21 Filed 07/19/21 Page 15 of 21
for failing to object to that testimony. The record reveals, however, that counsel
made use of the information to support his defense that someone other than the
Petitioner committed the offense.
. . . In the present case, trial counsel was able to use much of Officer Goetz’s
testimony regarding the victim’s statement to bolster his argument that Petitioner
was not the man who assaulted her. This is particularly true since she described the
attacker as wearing a white t-shirt, and a white t-shirt containing semen that did not
match that of Petitioner was found near the scene where it had been discarded by a
man running. Thus, notwithstanding trial counsel’s current opinion that he should
have objected to the testimony in this regard, the Court is not persuaded that he was
ineffective in allowing it.
Moreover, had counsel been ineffective in this regard, the prejudice prong
of Strickland has not been satisfied here. In order to show that counsel’s deficient
performance prejudiced the defense, Petitioner must show that the “errors were so
serious as to deprive the defendant of a fair trial, a trial whose result is reliable.”
Coleman v. State, 434 Md. 320, 331 (2013), quoting Strickland, 466 U.S. at 687.
The DNA match that came from the bite mark on the victim’s face, combined with
all of the rest of the evidence presented by the State was more than sufficient to
render the result in this case reliable.
Petitioner asserts that counsel was ineffective for failing to present evidence
that on September 21, 2006, the victim reported seeing someone who physically
resembled the perpetrator, and that on September 22, 2006, the victim advised that
she had knowledge of an ongoing criminal enterprise. Assuming arguendo, that
both statements would have been admissible, neither one contains probative
information that would come close to rendering counsel’s performance ineffective
for failing to offer it. Moreover, even if the content of the statements was relevant
and counsel was ineffective for failing to offer the evidence, Petitioner has utterly
failed to show that he was prejudiced in any way by the omission.
ECF No. 10-21 at 49-54.
Mr. Medina has not shown how the adjudication of his post-conviction claims resulted in
a decision that was contrary to, or involved an unreasonable application of, clearly established
Federal law; nor has he shown how it resulted in a decision that was based on an unreasonable
determination of the facts in light of the evidence presented during the post-conviction hearing.
Case 8:18-cv-01037-DKC Document 21 Filed 07/19/21 Page 16 of 21
A. Police Reports
Even assuming that counsel was deficient for failing to discover and present evidence from
the four police reports, the post-conviction court reasonably concluded that Mr. Medina suffered
1. Officer Slenker’s August 6, 2006 report
Mr. Medina first claims that defense counsel was ineffective for failing to discover and
present Officer Slenker’s report noting that a homeless man saw a black man wearing a white shirt
run through the nearby woods on the day of the incident. According to Mr. Medina, “[t]he
exculpatory value of the testimony is self-evident” and it “provided a compelling basis for
reasonable doubt.” ECF No. 10-1 at 16.
Upon review of the record, Mr. Medina fails to establish a reasonable probability that the
result of the trial would have been different had this specific evidence been presented. As
Respondents correctly note, during closing arguments, defense counsel raised a similar theory
regarding the possibility that a different individual wearing a white shirt committed the crime:
[We] [n]ow know that the man ran from the house to the dumpster and then the tee
You gotta know this, that is the tee shirt that the guilty man wore. Why?
Think about it. Remember the tall detective, I can’t remember—Slenker. Officer
Slenker, a good guy who gets up and tell us, “That was a very peculiar thing.” Of
course, it was. You saw the well-manicured street lining. It stuck out like a sore
thumb. White shirt laying right there in the open caused him to get suspicious,
called techs to come on down and seize it and preserve it, it might have evidence,
and it sure enough did. It had the evidence. It had the semen of the man who
committed this crime.
The man continued to run and got home. . . . Who knows what Franklin was
doing that night. Maybe asleep with his wife and his three kids, may be. I’ll tell
you what, the evidence shows this, the man who did this got away.
Case 8:18-cv-01037-DKC Document 21 Filed 07/19/21 Page 17 of 21
July 18, 2013 Trial Transcript, ECF No. 10-15 at 23. Defense counsel also noted that one of the
women who worked at the massage center “saw a Black man running out, thought it was a
customer.” Id. at 27.
Despite this evidence, however, the jury rejected the defense’s argument that the individual
in the white shirt committed the crime. Thus, the post-conviction court was not unreasonable in
concluding that the addition of Officer Slenker’s report – to support the same assertion – would
not have led to a different outcome.
2. Det. Kuhns’s August 21, 2006 report
Next, Mr. Medina claims that counsel was ineffective for failing to discover and introduce
Det. Kuhns’s report documenting M.C.’s statements that, on the night of her attack, she had “some
company” who drank tea and left at 1:00 a.m. and a guest named Peter who left at 3:00 a.m. ECF
10-1 at 16-17. Mr. Medina asserts that this report “would have been useful in impeaching M.C.’s
efforts to disclaim involvement in prostitution activities,” including recent sexual activity that
might explain “the tears observed during the forensic gynecological examination.” Id. at 17. The
court agrees with Respondents that there is no reasonable probability that, but for counsel’s failure
to admit the report, this impeachment evidence would have produced an acquittal. See ECF No.
17 at 39.
On direct appeal, Mr. Medina challenged two rulings by the trial court that excluded
proposed impeachment intended to show that M.C. was a prostitute. See ECF No. 10-19 at 2. In
rejecting this challenge, the Court of Special Appeals noted that during the trial, defense counsel
had been allowed to inquire whether M.C. operated a massage parlor, whether she had young
women at her home who offered sex for money, and whether she was the agent or madam for these
young women. Id. at 12-13. Indeed, during closing arguments, even the prosecutor acknowledged
Case 8:18-cv-01037-DKC Document 21 Filed 07/19/21 Page 18 of 21
that M.C.’s credibility had been impeached because she would not admit that the massage center
was essentially a brothel.
See ECF No. 10-15 at 1-2 (stating M.C. “wouldn’t completely
acknowledge that she knew what was going on” but counsel was “sure she did”).
From the record, however, it does not appear that M.C. was ever able to identify the
perpetrator clearly. Thus, evidence of Mr. Medina’s guilt did not result from M.C.’s testimony,
regardless of its truthfulness. Rather, the jury found Mr. Medina guilty presumably because of the
DNA evidence identifying him as the source of saliva from the bite mark on M.C.’s cheek.
Accordingly, Mr. Medina has not shown that the inclusion of Det. Kuhns’s report would have
resulted in a different outcome.
3. Det. Kuhns’s August 26, 2011 report
In his amended petition, Mr. Medina claims that counsel was ineffective for failing to
discover and introduce Det. Kuhns’s report dated August 26, 2011, which “reported a negative
photo identification of Mr. Medina by victim.” ECF No. 10 at 9. However, in the accompanying
memorandum, Mr. Medina presents no argument to support this assertion. See ECF No. 10-1.
Thus, he fails to meet his burden of showing that counsel’s performance was deficient and that the
deficient performance prejudiced his defense. See Strickland, 466 U.S. at 687. In any event, as
explained above, the jury appears to have relied on DNA evidence and not M.C.’s testimony. As
such, Mr. Medina has not established a reasonable probability that, but for counsel’s failure to
include the report, the result of the proceedings would have been different.
4. Det. Kuhns’s and Det. Burrows’s September 21 and 22, 2006 reports
Next, Mr. Medina claims that counsel was ineffective for failing to discover and introduce
two police reports indicating that the victim: (1) believed someone else named Joe committed the
crime, and (2) suggested that her boss may kill her for cooperating with authorities. ECF No. 10-
Case 8:18-cv-01037-DKC Document 21 Filed 07/19/21 Page 19 of 21
1 at 17-18. Medina argues that M.C.’s boss’s involvement in organized crime “would have made
counsel’s argument that the business was a brothel more potent” and M.C.’s belief regarding “Joe”
undermined the importance of her earlier description of the perpetrator. Id.
The post-conviction court rejected Mr. Medina’s arguments, finding that neither report
contained probative information that would render counsel’s performance ineffective and that Mr.
Medina was not otherwise prejudiced by the omission. ECF No. 10-21 at 53-54. The postconviction court’s determination was not unreasonable. As previously explained, in reaching its
verdict, the jury did not seem to rely on M.C.’s identification of the perpetrator, the reliability of
her testimony notwithstanding. Therefore, the post-conviction’s ruling on this issue withstands
scrutiny under Strickland.
Lastly, Mr. Medina claims that the post-conviction court unreasonably concluded that Mr.
Medina was not prejudiced by counsel’s failure to object to a hearsay statement made by M.C. at
the hospital, but relayed to the jury by Officer Goetz, describing the sexual assault and in particular
that M.C.’s pants and underwear were removed during the attack. ECF No. 10-1 at 28. Mr. Medina
asserts that this statement was inadmissible under Maryland law and crucial to the jury’s attempted
During the post-conviction proceeding, defense counsel testified and acknowledged that
the statement at issue constituted inadmissible hearsay. ECF No. 10-18 at 153-54. Counsel further
stated that if he were ineffective, it was “in not objecting . . . .” Id. Despite this testimony, the
post-conviction court rejected Mr. Medina’s claim, stating that it was “not persuaded that [counsel]
was ineffective in allowing [the testimony].” ECF No. 10-21 at 52. The post-conviction court
concluded that counsel made use of the information relayed by Officer Goetz – including
Case 8:18-cv-01037-DKC Document 21 Filed 07/19/21 Page 20 of 21
testimony that M.C. believed the attacker wore a white shirt – “to support his defense that someone
other than the Petitioner committed the offense.” Id.
As previously stated, representation is deficient if it falls below “an objective standard of
reasonableness.” Strickland, 466 U.S. at 688. The standard for assessing such competence is
“highly deferential,” id. at 669, and a defendant must overcome the “‘strong presumption’ that
counsel’s strategy and tactics fall ‘within the wide range of reasonable professional assistance.’”
Burch, 273 F.3d at 588 (quoting Strickland, 466 U.S. at 689). Applying § 2254(d), this court’s
review is limited to whether there is any reasonable argument that counsel satisfied Strickland’s
deferential standard.” Harrington, 562 U.S. at 105.
The post-conviction court’s determination was not based on an unreasonable determination
of the facts in light of the evidence presented. Mr. Medina’s defense largely centered on creating
reasonable doubt by emphasizing that an unknown man in a white shirt was the perpetrator. Thus,
it was reasonable for the post-conviction court to conclude that defense counsel’s failure to object
In any event, this court agrees with Respondents that Mr. Medina has failed to show
prejudice. Despite DNA evidence against Mr. Medina, as well as the fact that he was living near
the crime scene when the offense was committed and that he made incriminating statements during
recorded calls from the detention center, defense counsel successfully convinced the jury to acquit
him of consummated rape, first-degree burglary, and robbery. Based upon this record, the postconviction court’s ruling survives scrutiny under 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d).
There is a strong presumption that counsel’s conduct was within the wide range of
reasonable professional assistance. See Strickland, 466 U.S. at 689. Here, the post-conviction
court noted that trial counsel’s performance was not deficient, and Mr. Medina has failed to satisfy
Case 8:18-cv-01037-DKC Document 21 Filed 07/19/21 Page 21 of 21
the standard set forth in Strickland. Having reviewed the record in light of the deferential standard
of review applicable to 28 U.S.C. § 2254 proceedings, the court concludes that the state postconviction court’s decision did not involve an unreasonable application of federal law or an
unreasonable determination of the facts.
The Petition for habeas corpus relief will be denied. When a district court dismisses a
habeas petition, a certificate of appealability may issue “only if the applicant has made a substantial
showing of the denial of a constitutional right. 28 U.S.C. § 2253(c)(2). When a district court
rejects constitutional claims on the merits, a petitioner may satisfy the standard by demonstrating
that “reasonable jurists would find the district court’s assessment of the constitutional claims
debatable or wrong.” Slack v. McDaniel, 529 U.S. 473, 484 (2000). Because Medina fails to
satisfy this standard, the court declines to issue a certificate of appealability.
A separate order follows.
July 19, 2021
DEBORAH K. CHASANOW
United States District Judge
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