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Porterfield v. Warden, Lieber Correctional Institution

United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Rock Hill Division

March 23, 2015

Ronald Wendell Porterfield, Petitioner,
v.
Warden, Lieber Correctional Institution, Respondent.

OPINION & ORDER

TIMOTHY M. CAIN, District Judge.

Before the court is Petitioner Ronald Wendell Porterfield's ("Porterfield") amended petition for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. (ECF No. 31). In accordance with 28 U.S.C. § 636(b) and Local Rule 73.02(B)(2), D.S.C., all pre-trial proceedings were referred to a magistrate judge. On January 20, 2015, Magistrate Judge Paige J. Gossett filed a Report and Recommendation ("Report") recommending Respondent's Summary Judgment Motion (ECF Nos. 27 and 32) be granted and Petition be denied. (ECF No. 37). On February 6, 2015, Petitioner timely filed objections to the Report (ECF No. 39) and a motion for a certificate of appealability (ECF No. 40).

The Magistrate Judge makes only a recommendation to the court. The recommendation has no presumptive weight. The responsibility to make a final determination remains with the court. Mathews v. Weber, 423 U.S. 261, 270-71 (1976). The court is charged with making a de novo determination of those portions of the Report to which specific objection is made, and the court may accept, reject, or modify, in whole or in part, the recommendation of the Magistrate Judge, or recommit the matter with instructions. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1). However, the court need not conduct a de novo review when a party makes only "general and conclusory objections that do not direct the court to a specific error in the magistrate's proposed findings and recommendations." Orpiano v. Johnson, 687 F.2d 44, 47 (4th Cir. 1982). In the absence of a timely filed, specific objection, the Magistrate Judge's conclusions are reviewed only for clear error. See Diamond v. Colonial Life & Accident Ins. Co., 416 F.3d 310, 315 (4th Cir. 2005).

Discussion

The procedural history is set forth in detail in the Report. (Report at 1-5). Briefly, in April 2005 Petitioner was indicted for assault and battery with intent to kill and kidnaping. He was tried before a jury on July 11-19, 2005, convicted of both charges, and sentenced to life imprisonment for each offense. Although the trial court appointed standby counsel, Petitioner represented himself at trial. Petitioner filed a direct appeal and the South Carolina Court of Appeals affirmed the convictions. State v. Potterfield, Op. No. 08-UP-144 (S.C. Ct. App. March 6, 2008). The South Carolina Supreme Court denied his petition for a writ of certiorari. On January 28, 2009, Petitioner then filed an application for post-conviction relief ("PCR"). A hearing was held on April 14, 2010, and the PCR court denied Petitioner PCR on August 25, 2010. Petitioner appealed the denial of PCR and on October 7, 2013, the South Carolina Court of Appeals denied Petitioner's petition for a writ of certiorari.

On March 17, 2014, Petitioner filed the instant Petition seeking habeas relief. In his Amended Petition, Petitioner raises the following issues, quoted verbatim:

Ground One: Trial court denied Petitioners constitutional rights under the Six/Fourteeth Amendments by denying Petitioner's compulsory process to obtain favorable witness, which witness was an expert witness.
(1) Are a shooting victim's statement identifying and describing his assailant and the circumstances of the shooting made in response to medical doctor's initial, evaluation upon arrival at the emergency room, obvious distress, bleeding in pain approximately 18 minutes after the shooting inherently reliable under the compulsory process, and hearsay exceptions 803(1)(2) in which the medical doctor or custodian should have been allowed to be called as an witness to testify to?
(2) Are the Petitioner's rights to effective assistance of counsel violated during the preparation of his trial after counsel fail to call and prepare doctor as a defense witness to exculpatory evidence?
(3) Are the Petitioner's rights to effective assistance of counsel violated base on claim that appellate counsel fail to brief on appeal the Petitioner's rights to call potential doctor witness to testify at his trial?
(4) Were the Petitioner's right to counsel clearly and unequivocally waved voluntarily exercising his informed free will without express distrust, animosity or for such overbearing conduct by counsel?
(5) Were the Petitioner claims of being force to represent him self at state trial procedurally bared from federal court review after states collateral [P.C.R.] counsel failed to enforce a timely Rule (59 E) motion requesting specifically for a ruling on the issue?

(ECF Nos. 31 at 1, 31-1 at 5, 12). The Magistrate Judge found that the issues raised in parts two and four of Ground One are procedurally barred and Martinez v. Ryan, 132 S.Ct. 1309 (2012), is inapplicable. (Report at 11-13). The Magistrate Judge found that the claim raised in part five of Ground One was not cognizable on federal habeas review. (Report at 11 n.3). And finally, the Magistrate Judge found that Petitioner was not entitled to habeas relief as to the claims raised in parts one and three of Ground One. (Report at 13-21).

Upon review, the court finds that many of Petitioner's objections are unrelated to the dispositive portions of the Magistrate Judge's Report, merely restate his claims, or are repetitive. The court, however, was able to glean two specific objections: 1) Petitioner contends that the Magistrate Judge erred in finding Martinez is inapplicable; and 2) Petitioner contends that the Magistrate Judge erred in finding his claim ...


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