United States District Court, D. South Carolina
RICHARD MARK GERGEL, District Judge.
This matter comes before the Court on the Report and Recommendation (R & R) of the Magistrate Judge (Dkt. No. 33), recommending that Respondent's Motion for Summary Judgment be granted and the habeas petition be dismissed. For the reasons stated below, the Court ADOPTS the R & R, GRANTS Respondent's Motion for Summary Judgment, and DISMISSES the habeas petition.
In October of 2007, Petitioner was indicted for murder. (Dkt. No. 19-3 at 68-69). The murder case was tried to a jury in August of 2008. (Dkt. No. 19-1 at 3). In a motion in limine, trial counsel moved to exclude the victim's statement identifying Petitioner as his murderer on three grounds: (1) that the identification was tainted by the police suggesting Petitioner's name; (2) that the statement was not a dying declaration, and (3) that the prejudicial value of the identification outweighed its probative value, given the context of the identification. (Dkt. No. 19-1 at 53-56). After a hearing where the trial court heard testimony, the trial court denied the motion in limine. (Dkt. No. 19-1 at 82). Two other witnesses at trial testified that they were in the car with Petitioner when he shot the victim. (Dkt. No. 19-1 at 111-112, 156-158).
The jury convicted Petitioner of murder, and the trial judge sentenced him to life without parole. (Dkt. No. 19-2 at 235, 243). Petitioner filed an appeal. (Dkt. No. 19-5 at 4). The South Carolina Court of Appeals denied Petitioner's appeal, and remittitur was issued on March 12, 2010. (Dkt. Nos. 19-7, 19-8). Petitioner filed an application for post conviction relief (PCR), raising several ineffective assistance of counsel claims. (Dkt. No. 19-2 at 245-250). The PCR court denied the application in its entirety. (Dkt. No. 19-3 at 60-67). Petitioner appealed the PCR court's order, raising whether trial counsel was ineffective for failing to properly object to and preserve for appeal the inadmissibility of the victim's identification of Petitioner as his murderer. (Dkt. No. 19-10). The South Carolina Supreme Court denied Petitioner's writ of certiorari, and remittitur was issued on October 10, 2014. (Dkt. Nos. 19-12, 19-13).
The instant habeas petition followed raising ineffective assistance of counsel claims and a denial of due process claim. (Dkt. No.1). The Magistrate Judge recommends granting Repondent's motion for summary judgment and dismissing the petition. (Dkt. No. 33). Petitioner filed objections. (Dkt. No. 35).
II. LeKal Standard
A. Report & Recommendation
The Magistrate Judge makes only a recommendation to this Court. The recommendation has no presumptive weight, and the responsibility to make a final determination remains with the Court. Mathews v. Weber, 423 U.S. 261, 270-71 (1976). The Court may "accept, reject, or modify, in whole or in part, the findings or recommendations made by the magistrate." 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1). This Court is charged with making a de novo determination of those portions of the R & R or specified proposed findings or recommendations to which objection is made. Diamond v. Colonial Life & Ace. Ins. Co., 416 F.3d 310, 315 (4th Cir. 2005) (quoting 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1); accord Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b).
As to portions of the R & R to which no specific objection has been made, this Court "must'only satisfy itself that there is no clear error on the face of the record in order to accept the recommendation.'" Id. (quoting Fed. R. Civ. P 72 advisory committee note). Moreover, in the absence of specific objections to the R & R, the Court need not give any explanation for adopting the Magistrate Judge's analysis and recommendation. See Camby v. Davis, 718 F.2d 198, 199-200 (4th Cir. 1983).
B. Federal Habeas Review
Petitioner's claims are governed by 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d), which provides that his petition cannot be granted unless the claims "(1) resulted in a decision that was contrary to, or involved an unreasonable application of, clearly established Federal law, as determined by the Supreme Court of the United States; or (2) resulted in a decision that was based on an unreasonable determination of the facts in light of the evidence presented in the State court proceeding." 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d). "[A] federal habeas court may not issue the writ simply because that court concludes in its independent judgment that the relevant state-court decision applied clearly established federal law erroneously or incorrectly. Rather, that application must also be unreasonable." Williams v. Taylor, 529 U.S. 362, 411 (2000). Importantly, "a determination of a factual issue made by a State court shall be presumed to be correct, " and Petitioner has "the burden of rebutting the presumption of correctness by clear and convincing evidence." 28 U.S.C. § 2254(e)(1).
A. Procedurally ...