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Hofland v. Liberty

United States District Court, D. Maine

May 13, 2016

RANDALL LIBERTY, Warden, Maine State Prison, Respondent


John H. Rich III United States Magistrate Judges

Petitioner Randall B. Hofland, an inmate at the Maine State Prison, has filed a petition pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. Petition (ECF No. 1). Following a jury trial, petitioner was convicted of kidnapping, criminal restraint with a dangerous weapon, criminal threatening with a dangerous weapon, and burglary. The Law Court denied leave to appeal the sentence and affirmed the conviction on appeal. The Superior Court subsequently summarily dismissed petitioner’s post-conviction petition, and the Law Court denied discretionary review. Following a review of the petition and the State’s request for dismissal, I recommend that the Court grant the State’s request, and dismiss the petition.

I. Factual Background and Procedural History

The Law Court described the facts as follows:

On the evening of October 23, 2008, Hofland was involved in an altercation with law enforcement officers at a roadblock during which officers allege Hofland pulled a gun and then sped off. Hofland spent the next eight days in the woods evading law enforcement.
When he emerged from hiding on October 31, 2008, Hofland walked into the Stockton Springs Elementary School gymnasium with a loaded handgun and attempted to forcibly gather children and bring them into a school bathroom. When school officials interceded, Hofland pointed his gun at them. Hofland then forced his way into a classroom full of fifth grade students and held those students against their will until law enforcement officials arrived.

State v. Hofland, 2012 ME 129, ¶¶ 2-3, 58 A.3d 1023 (per curiam). Petitioner was indicted on 41 counts. State Court Record (“R.”) (ECF No. 30) Vol. I, filed with Respondent’s Answer to the Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254 (“Answer”) (ECF No. 29), No. BELSC-CR-2008-00334, Indictment.[1]

A bifurcated jury trial was held in 2011. Hofland, 2012 ME 129, ¶ 8, 58 A.3d 1023. In the first phase of the trial, one count was dismissed, and the jury returned a guilty verdict on all but one of the remaining counts.[2] Id. The second phase concerned criminal responsibility; the jury returned a verdict that Petitioner was criminally responsible. Id. Thus, petitioner was convicted of four counts of criminal threatening with a dangerous weapon (Class C), 17-A M.R.S.A. §§ 209, 1252(4); 11 counts of criminal restraint with a dangerous weapon (Class C), 17-A M.R.S.A. §§ 302(1)(A)(1), 1252(4); 22 counts of kidnapping (Class A), 17-A M.R.S.A. §§ 301(1)(A)(2), 301(1)(B)(1), 1252(4); one count of burglary (Class A), 17-A M.R.S.A. § 401(1)(B)(1); and one count of criminal restraint (Class D), 17-A M.R.S.A. § 302(1)(A)(1).[3]Hofland, 2012 ME 129, ¶ 1, 58 A.2d 1023. The court sentenced Petitioner to 30 years and five years, to be served consecutively, and to 10 years and 364 days, to be served concurrently. Id.

In November 2012, the Sentence Review Panel denied leave to appeal the sentence. R. Vol. III, No. SRP-11-181, Order Denying Leave to Appeal from Sentence. Also in November 2012, the Law Court affirmed the judgment of conviction. Hofland, 2012 ME 129, ¶ 1, 58 A.2d 1023. In December 2012, petitioner filed a motion for reconsideration, and in January 2013, the Law Court denied the motion to reconsider.[4] R. Vol. III, No. 11-180, Motion for Reconsideration, Order Denying Motion to Reconsider.

In April 2013, Petitioner filed a petition in the United States Supreme Court for a writ of certiorari. R. Vol. III, No. 13-5529, Docket Record. On October 7, 2013, the Court denied certiorari. Hofland v. Maine, 134 S.Ct. 305 (2013).

On August 11, 2014, petitioner filed a pro se state court post-conviction petition, pursuant to 15 M.R.S.A. § 2121 et seq. R. Vol. III, No. BELSC-CR-2014-00145, Docket Record. In it he asserted that (1) the State had engaged in a conspiracy against him and concealed documents from him; (2) his right to a speedy trial was violated; (3) he experienced discrimination as a “class of one”; and (4) the sentence was excessive and violated his rights under the Eighth Amendment. R. Vol. III, No. BELSC-CR-2014-00145, Petition for Post-conviction Review at 3-4 and Addendum (entitled “Grounds Raised”) to Petition for Post-conviction Review.

In September 2014, the Superior Court issued an order to petitioner to show cause as to why the petition should not be dismissed as untimely under 15 M.R.S.A. § 2128-B(1)(A), or, alternatively, to show due diligence and newly discovered evidence under 15 M.R.S.A. § 2128-B(1)(C). R. Vol. III, No. BELSC-CR-2014-00145, Post-Conviction Order at 1-2.

In April 2015, the Superior Court issued an order noting that petitioner did not respond to the order to show cause, but instead petitioner filed an appeal, which the Law Court dismissed in December 2014. R. Vol. III, No. BELSC-CR-2014-00145, Order of Dismissal at 1-2.[5] The Superior Court noted that petitioner thereafter filed a motion to supplement his petition for post-conviction review. Id. at 2. The court concluded that petitioner had “failed to show good cause why the limitations period of § 2128-B should be tolled, ” and the petition was untimely. Id. Finally, the court concluded that “it plainly appears from the face of the petition that Petitioner fails to state any claim upon which post-conviction relief can be granted, ” and on that basis, the court summarily dismissed the state court petition. Id.

Petitioner sought a certificate of probable cause to appeal to the Law Court. R. Vol. III, No. Wal-15-230, Docket Record at 1, Memorandum in Support of Certificate of Probable Cause. In August 2015, the Law Court denied the request, stating in relevant part: “After reviewing the record, the Court has determined that no further hearing or other action is necessary to a fair disposition of the matter and that Hofland waived the timeliness issue.” R. Vol. III, No. 15-230, Order Denying Certificate of Probable Cause. The Law Court denied petitioner’s motion for reconsideration. R. Vol. III, No. 15-230, Order Denying Motion to Reconsider.

Petitioner signed his section 2254 petition on October 2, 2015, and it was filed on October 7, 2015.[6] Petition at [1], [15]. Petitioner asserts four grounds, each of which parallels the grounds asserted in his state court post-conviction petition. Ground One of the section 2254 petition alleges racketeering and prosecutorial misconduct. Petition at [5]. Ground Two is a claim that petitioner’s right to a speedy trial was violated. Id. at [7]. Ground Three claims “class of one” discrimination. Id. at [8]. Ground Four claims an Eighth Amendment violation of cruel and unusual punishment and an excessive sentence. Id. at [10].

Although petitioner is barred from making court filings without prior permission, the court concluded that petitioner’s section 2254 petition fits within the exception to the bar against his making further filings.[7] Order (ECF No. 6).

The State notes the state court discussion of the timeliness issue, but the State concluded essentially that there was no timeliness issue, and, thus, the State bases its argument for summary dismissal of the section 2254 petition on the merits rather than on any timeliness issue. Answer at [4] & nn. 3, 4, [5-7].[8]

In addition to his section 2254 petition, petitioner has also filed a number of additional documents in which he makes allegations, requests discovery, requests the appointment of counsel, supplements the record, seeks to amend the petition, and seeks relief. Petitioner concedes that one of his filings, ECF No. 31, is moot. Reply (ECF No. 37) at [10].[9]

II. Applicable Legal Standard

Petitioner seeks relief under 28 U.S.C. § 2254(a), which provides:

The Supreme Court, a Justice thereof, a circuit judge, or 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.

Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254(b)(1), a petitioner must exhaust state court remedies unless there is no available state corrective process or the available process is ineffective to protect the petitioner’s rights.[10] Federal habeas review of a state ...

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