United States District Court, E.D. Virginia, Alexandria Division
JOHN E. HAMILTON, Petitioner,
HAROLD W. CLARKE, Director of Virginia Department of Corrections, Respondent.
M. Brinkema, United States District Judge.
Petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus under 28 U.S.C. §
2254, John Hamilton ("petitioner" or
"Hamilton") seeks an order vacating the Supreme
Court of Virginia's decision, which upheld "his
convictions for two counts of aggravated sexual battery, one
count of sodomy, one count of indecent liberties with a child
under the age of 14, and one count of indecent liberties by a
person in a custodial position." Amend. Pet. at 1.
the Court is respondent's Rule 5 Answer and Motion to
Dismiss to which petitioner, who is represented by counsel,
has filed a response. For the reasons that follow, the motion
to dismiss will be granted.
Circuit Court Proceedings
case arose from allegations that petitioner, a former little
league coach, sexually abused several minors in Fairfax
County over an extended period of time. See Amend. Pet. at 1;
[Dkt. No. 14]. Although the initial allegation came from one
individual, as the investigation progressed multiple victims
came forward to report that when they were children, they
were molested by petitioner. Before being indicted,
petitioner hired counsel who reached an agreement with the
prosecution under which Hamilton would plead guilty to one
sex offense for each of the five known victims. Id.
at 1-2. As part of this agreement, Hamilton agreed to meet
with Fairfax County Police detectives and disclose all of his
sexual crimes in exchange for immunity for everything
disclosed except for facts relating to the five offenses to
which he agreed to plead guilty. Id.
August 17, 2009, after being interviewed, Hamilton was
indicted on five counts: two counts of aggravated sexual
battery in violation of Va. Code § 18.2-67.3, two counts
of indecent liberties with a child in violation of Va. Code
§ 18.2-370, and one count of sodomy (crimes against
nature) in violation of Va. Code § 18.2-361(A). See
Indictment, Commonwealth v. Hamilton, Nos.
FE-2009-1470 to -73, 1478 (Va. Cir. Ct. Aug 17, 2009).
October 7, 2009, Hamilton failed to appear for the scheduled
plea hearing. Amend. Pet. at 2-3. He had travelled to Germany
with his mother on August 26, 2009, and instead of returning
to the United States, he remained in Europe. Id.
After the circuit court issued a bench warrant for his
arrest, an international arrest warrant was issued, resulting
in petitioner being detained in Poland on August 25, 2010.
Id. at 3. In September 2010, the United States and
the Fairfax Commonwealth's Attorney formally requested
that petitioner be extradited back to the United States on
the basis of the five crimes for which he had been indicted.
See [Dkt. No. 7] at 125-33. Hamilton was extradited back to
the United States on or about January 20, 2011. Amend. Pet.
March 29, 2011, Hamilton pleaded guilty to the five charges
in the indictment. At the plea hearing, the prosecutor
proffered the following facts in support of the
[I]f these [cases] had gone to trial the Commonwealth's
evidence would be that for Felony 2009-1471, in 2009 a young
man by the name of [K.E.] came forward to the Fairfax County
Police Department and reported that his little league coach,
... John E. Hamilton, had sexually molested him when he was
12 years old. During the summer of 1997.
[K.E.] reported that one day after baseball practice he was
in [Hamilton's] vehicle, in the parking lot of Carl
Sandburg Middle School, and [Hamilton] grabbed [K.E.'s]
penis inside his pants and then pulled his own penis out and
masturbated in front of [K.E.].
[K.E.] also reported that [on] one occasion when he was
cleaning [Hamilton]'s apartment in exchange for payment
he observed [Hamilton] disrobe and masturbate while watching
... Detective Jeremy Hinson of the Fairfax County Police
Department investigated [K.E.'s] report and went to
[Hamilton's] residence to interview him. A 16 year old
Danish foreign exchange student named [F.G] came to the door.
Shortly after introducing himself as a police officer, [F.G.]
told Detective Hinson that [Hamilton] walked around naked in
front of [F.G.] and had [F.G.] wake him up in the mornings
When [F.G.] would wake [Hamilton] he would be naked,
uncovered in his bed and aroused. During a subsequent
interview [F.G.] reported that within a week of his arrival
in fall of 2008, [Hamilton] had masturbated in front of him,
masturbated [F.G.] and performed fellatio on [F.G.].
[Hamilton] also performed massage on [F.G.] which ... ended
in fellatio and anal intercourse.... [T]hose facts related to
A press release on Detective Hinson's investigation
resulted in several victims coming forward to report that
they too had been molested by [Hamilton] when they were
children. With regard to felony 2009-1470, [J.C.] reported
that he met [Hamilton] as his little league baseball coach
back in 1991. [Hamilton] moved into [J.C.'s] home to act
as a nanny to assist [J.C.'s] father, who was a widower.
When [J.C.] was between the ages of 10 and 13, [Hamilton]
began exposing himself and walking naked around [J.C.].
[Hamilton] would masturbate [J.C] and have [J.C] masturbate
him. He escalated to performing fellatio on [J.C] and having
[J.C] perform fellatio on him and [J.C] reported that this
would occur approximately three to four times per week.
For Felony 2009-1472, [T.T.] reported to Fairfax County
Police that he met [Hamilton] as a little league baseball
coach in 1999. [T.T.], then age 14, had asked [Hamilton] for
extra batting practice so that he could attempt to get on the
junior varsity team.
Since his parents had a hectic work schedule [Hamilton] would
pick [T.T.] up and take him home after these batting
practices. During that time [Hamilton] would take [T.T.] and
another boy bowling and he bargained with them that if he
beat them in bowling[, ] they would have to do yard work or
painting at his house.
On several occasions when [T.T.] was doing the yard work or
painting at [Hamilton's] home, [Hamilton] would wear only
boxer shorts and would get erections and his penis would come
out the slit of the boxer shorts and [he] would turn towards
[T.T.] to show him his penis.
For Felony 2009-1478, the facts would be that [Hamilton] was
the coach for the Fort Hunt Little League All-stars when a
boy named [P.V.] was 11 years old, in the fall of 2001. One
of [Hamilton's] duties was to take care of mowing the
grass on the baseball field during that summer.
[Hamilton] allowed [P.V.] to help and offered to teach him
how to drive the tractor and had [P.V.] sit on his lap. While
driving that tractor [Hamilton] would place his hand on
[P.V.'s] penis through his shorts. [P.V.] attempted to
move [his] hand away but [Hamilton] would just put his hand
back on [P.V.'s] penis. And this continued until [P.V.]
stopped resisting. [P.V.] could also feel [Hamilton's]
own erection through his shorts.
On other occasions [Hamilton] would touch [P.V.] while in his
car and masturbated [P.V.] to the point of ejaculation. On
another occasion [Hamilton] had [P.V.] at his own home and
[he] attempted anal intercourse on [P.V.] and performed
fellatio on [him].
All of the above events took place within Fairfax County.
the plea colloquy, the Commonwealth attorney also mentioned
that petitioner had failed to appear at his original plea
hearing because he had travelled to Europe before his court
date and refused to return, forcing the Commonwealth "to
obtain an international red notice through INTERPOL."
[Dkt. No. 9] at 252. The prosecutor further stated that
Hamilton had been arrested by Polish border guards as he
attempted to enter Poland. Id.
was sentenced on June 24, 2011. Id. at 256. As part
of its sentencing memorandum, the prosecution included
portions of Hamilton's interview session with Detective
Hinson. Id. at 261-62.  Hamilton's trial counsel
objected to the inclusion of the debriefing transcripts as a
violation of the plea agreement, which stated that the
"contents of the discussion with Detective Hinson will
not be turned over to any other law enforcement agency or be
used against him in any legal proceeding, including
sentencing except as it pertains to the five charges to which
he has pleaded guilty." Id. at 338. The circuit
court reviewed the proffered memorandum and exhibits, and
ruled that the inclusion of the transcripts was not a
violation of the plea agreement. Id. at 263-64.
Further, the court heard testimony from five witnesses,
including four of the five victims and the mother of one of
the victims, regarding the length of the abuse and the manner
in which it was carried out. Id. at
was sentenced to 20 years on each of the two counts of
aggravated sexual battery, and five years for each of the
other counts. Id. at 316-17, 321. Each sentence was
imposed to run consecutively, resulting in a total sentence
of 55 years of incarceration. Id. In reaching
this sentence, the court found that the sentencing
guidelines, which recommended a high end of 13 years, did not
properly reflect the extreme abuses perpetrated by
petitioner. See Id. at 315-16; [Dkt. No. 14], Ex. A
at 4. The court concluded that the conduct at issue and
petitioner's abuse of a position of trust warranted an
upward departure. See [Dkt. No. 9] at 315-316.
timely filed a notice of appeal, asserting three assignments
of error by the circuit court. Amend. Pet. at 5.
Specifically, he alleged that the court erred in allowing
evidence of unrelated criminal accusations in violation of
the plea agreement, in refusing to grant a continuance to
enable him to file a motion for resentencing, and in failing
to comply with Va. Code Ann. § 9.1-902(H). Id.
Hamilton's petition for appeal was denied with respect to
the first two assignments of errors, and allowed as to
whether the circuit court complied with §9.1-902(H). The
Court of Appeals rejected this argument after considering it
and affirmed Hamilton's convictions and sentences.
See Hamilton v. Commonwealth, 738 S.E.2d 525 (2013).
The Supreme Court of Virginia denied Hamilton's petition
for further review. See Amend. Pet. at 5.
State Court Habeas Petitions
September 24, 2014, Hamilton filed a timely habeas corpus
petition in the Circuit Court for Fairfax County, alleging
six assignments of error. See Petition for Writ of Habeas
Corpus, Hamilton v. Wright, No. 2014-12512 (Va. Cir.
Ct. June 10, 2015). First, he argued that his conviction for
sodomy must be vacated as void ab initio under the
Supreme Court's decision in Lawrence v. Texas,539 U.S. 558 (2003) and the Fourth Circuit's decision in
MacDonald v. Moose,710 F.3d 154 (4th Cir. 2013).
Second, he argued that the Commonwealth violated the Supreme
Court decisions in Brady v. Maryland,373 U.S. 83
(1963) and Napue v. Illinois,360 U.S. 264 (1959) by
concealing exculpatory evidence and presenting false evidence
when it allowed Detective Hinson to assert that petitioner
had stated he was sexually abused but could not recall the
name of his abuser. Additionally, Hamilton raised four
distinct claims of ineffective assistance of counsel,
claiming that his trial counsel was ineffective by failing to
argue at the sentencing hearing that the extradition treaty
between the United States and Poland had been violated;
failing to memorialize properly the plea agreement to reflect
his understanding of the charges to which he would plead
guilty; and failing to object to the admission of the