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KARIM WARD v. STATE OF MARYLAND

Criminal procedure — Post-conviction relief — Ineffective assistance of counsel

This is an appeal from the denial of a petition for post-conviction relief filed by appellant, Karim Ward. The case started as an altercation at a night club, which led to a fistfight, and ultimately a shooting. A jury in the Circuit Court for Washington County subsequently convicted appellant of second-degree murder; use of a handgun in the commission of a crime of violence; use of a handgun in the commission of a felony; wearing, carrying or transporting a handgun; unlawful possession of a regulated firearm; and unlawful possession of a firearm. Appellant filed an initial appeal on April 21, 2004, raising the sole issue of sufficiency of the evidence. We affirmed his convictions. Ten years later, on September 16, 2014, appellant filed a petition for post-conviction relief. The post-conviction court found that his attorney did not provide ineffective assistance of counsel, and it denied his request for relief. Thereafter, appellant noted this timely appeal, presenting five issues for our review:

1. “Did the post-conviction court abuse its discretion when it denied Ward’s petition for post-conviction relief when it found that the defense was not prejudiced by the failure of defense counsel to object to comments by the prosecutor during closing argument and rebuttal ‘that intimated that witnesses were hesitant to come forward, or that witnesses were risking their lives by testifying?’”

2. “Did the post-conviction court abuse its discretion when it denied Ward’s petition for post-conviction relief when it found that the defense was not prejudiced by the failure of defense counsel to object to a ‘golden rule’ argument by the prosecutor during closing argument and rebuttal?”

3. “Did the post-conviction court abuse its discretion when it denied Ward’s petition for post-conviction relief when it found that the defense was not prejudiced by the failure of defense counsel to object to the prosecutor’s ‘illconceived’ attempt to vouch for witnesses during closing argument and rebuttal?”

4. “Did the post-conviction court abuse its discretion when it denied Ward’s petition for post-conviction relief when it found that defense counsel was not constitutionally ineffective when he failed to object to the prosecutor’s closing arguments about the intent of people who acquire illegal drugs which ‘telegraphed’ to the jury that Ward had been previously convicted of a drugrelated offense?”

5. “Did the post-conviction court abuse its discretion when it denied Ward’s petition for post-conviction relief when it found that the defense was not prejudiced by the failure of defense counsel to request a jury instruction limiting the jury’s consideration of Ward’s stipulation that he had a prior conviction disqualifying him from possessing a handgun as to only the charge of possession of a firearm by a disqualified person and to no other offenses?”

Read the opinion here: