Monongalia County 14-C-589
Danielle Hilling, by counsel Teresa J. Lyons, appeals the
March 28, 2017, order of the Circuit Court of Monongalia
County denying her petition for post-conviction habeas corpus
relief. Respondent J.D. Sallaz, Acting Warden, Lakin
Correctional Center, by counsel, Sarah B. Massey, filed a
response in support of the circuit court's
order. Petitioner filed a reply. On appeal,
petitioner argues that the circuit court erred in finding
that an omnibus hearing was unnecessary, in denying
petitioner's motion to expand the record, and in denying
Court has considered the parties' briefs and the record
on appeal. The facts and legal arguments are adequately
presented, and the decisional process would not be
significantly aided by oral argument. Upon consideration of
the standard of review, the briefs, and the record presented,
the Court finds no substantial question of law and no
prejudicial error. For these reasons, a memorandum decision
affirming the circuit court's order is appropriate under
Rule 21 of the Rules of Appellate Procedure.
of 2006, petitioner was indicted for one count of
first-degree murder and one count of conspiracy. At trial,
petitioner was convicted of both counts. Ultimately,
petitioner was sentenced to life without the possibility of
parole for first degree murder and one to five years of
incarceration for conspiracy, said sentences to be served
concurrently. Petitioner appealed her conviction. The Court
refused the appeal by order entered in May of 2008.
of 2009, petitioner, by previous counsel, filed a petition
for writ of habeas corpus. The circuit court summarily denied
those claims without an omnibus evidentiary hearing.
Petitioner appealed the denial, and this Court affirmed the
circuit court order. Hilling v. Nohe, No. 12-0131,
2013 WL 3185089 (W.Va. June 24, 2013)(memorandum decision).
petitioner filed a second petition for writ of habeas corpus
in the Circuit Court of Monongalia County asserting
ineffective assistance of trial counsel. Counsel was
appointed for petitioner who filed an amended petition and a
supporting memorandum of law. Respondent filed an answer. In
a thirteen-page order entered on March 28, 2017, the circuit
court denied the petition without holding an omnibus hearing.
The circuit court found that "[p]etitioner has not shown
that trial counsel's performance was so deficient under
an objective standard of reasonableness that she was denied
the effective assistance of counsel." Further, the
circuit court found that "[p]etitioner has not shown
that but for trial counsel's actions and/or omissions,
the result of her trial and sentencing would have been
different." In regard to an omnibus hearing, the court
found that petitioner "has not disclosed an expert
opinion or indicated that any expert or other testimony would
be taken at a hearing" and that "petitioner has not
identified any evidence she wishes to introduce in support of
her [p]etition." Petitioner now appeals that order.
apply the following standard of review in habeas appeals:
"In reviewing challenges to the findings and conclusions
of the circuit court in a habeas corpus action, we apply a
three-prong standard of review. We review the final order and
the ultimate disposition under an abuse of discretion
standard; the underlying factual findings under a clearly
erroneous standard; and questions of law are subject to a
de novo review." Syl. Pt. 1, Mathena v.
Haines, 219 W.Va. 417, 633 S.E.2d 771 (2006).
Syl. Pt. 1, Anstey v. Ballard, 237 W.Va. 411, 787
S.E.2d 864 (2016).
appeal, petitioner argues that the circuit court abused its
discretion by dismissing her amended petition without
affording her an omnibus hearing or another opportunity to
expand the record. Respondent argues that petitioner had no
entitlement to expand the record and that the circuit court
may deny habeas petitions that are procedurally barred or
meritless. We agree with respondent and find no error in the
circuit court's denial of petitioner's habeas
Virginia Code § 53-4A-7(a) provides
[i]f the petition, affidavits, exhibits, records and other
documentary evidence attached thereto, or the return or other
pleadings, or the record in the proceedings which resulted in
the conviction and sentence . . . show to the satisfaction of
the court that the petition is entitled to no relief . . .
the court shall enter an order denying the relief sought.
we have previously held as follows:
'A court having jurisdiction over habeas corpus
proceedings may deny a petition for a writ of habeas corpus
without a hearing and without appointing counsel for the
petitioner if the petition, exhibits, affidavits or other
documentary evidence filed therewith show to such court's
satisfaction that the petitioner is entitled to no relief.
Syllabus Point 1, Perdue v. Coiner, 156 W.Va. 467,