Daily Record Staff//May 5, 2015
//May 5, 2015
In 1998, Lye Huat Ong, appellant, pleaded guilty, in the Circuit Court for Howard County, to two counts of child abuse and one count of sexual offense in the second degree and was thereafter sentenced to concurrent terms of imprisonment. His application for leave to appeal from that guilty plea was denied. Ong thereafter unsuccessfully sought relief under the Maryland Uniform Post-conviction Procedure Act.
He ultimately filed a petition for writ of actual innocence, challenging his convictions on various grounds, among which were an alleged lack of evidence to show that he had committed any of the charged offenses, as well as allegations that his trial counsel, the prosecution, and two judges had acted improperly and effectively coerced him into acceding to a plea agreement against his wishes. Invoking Criminal Procedure Article (“CP”), § 8-301(e)(1),2 Ong requested a hearing.
Seven days after the State filed a written response opposing Ong’s petition, the circuit court dismissed his petition without a hearing because, according to the court’s written order of dismissal, that petition failed to cite any newly discovered evidence and therefore failed to comply with the pleading requirements of the actual innocence statute. Ong subsequently filed a motion for reconsideration, which the circuit court denied.
He now appeals from the circuit court’s order of dismissal, claiming that the circuit court’s prompt action in dismissing the petition, just seven days after the State filed its response, left him without an opportunity to file a reply memorandum to the State’s response, and that he was thereby denied due process. Ong further asserts that the circuit court “rush[ed] to judgment” in dismissing his pro se petition before he had an opportunity to amend it so as to render it compliant with the pleading requirements of the actual innocence statute, CP § 8-301, as well as Maryland Rule 4-332.