United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Rock Hill Division
Dayvonn A. Valentine, Petitioner,
Warden Leroy Cartledge, Respondent.
R. BRYAN HARWELL, District Judge.
Petitioner Dayvonn A. Valentine, a state prisoner proceeding pro se, initiated this action by filing a petition for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. See Petition, ECF No. 1. Respondent Warden Leroy Cartledge filed a motion for summary judgment, a return and supporting memorandum, and an amended return and supporting memorandum. See ECF Nos. 18, 19, & 22. Petitioner filed a response in opposition to Respondent's motion for summary judgment. See ECF No. 25. The matter is now before the Court for review of the Report and Recommendation (R & R) of United States Magistrate Judge Paige J. Gossett. See R & R, ECF No. 27. The Magistrate Judge recommends the Court grant Respondent's motion for summary judgment and deny Petitioner's petition. R & R at 1, 17. Petitioner filed timely objections to the R & R. See ECF No. 35.
For the reasons stated below, the Court adopts the Magistrate Judge's R & R and grants Respondent's motion.
Petitioner pleaded guilty in state court to eight counts of kidnaping, nine counts of armed robbery, and one weapon possession charge, and he received an aggregate sentence of twenty years' imprisonment. Petition at 1; ECF No. 19-1 at 95-96. The Magistrate Judge provides a thorough summary of the facts and procedural history of this case, with citations to the record, in her R & R. See R & R at 1-3. Respondent filed no objections to the R & R, and Petitioner's objections do not dispute the Magistrate Judge's rendition of the procedural history. Accordingly, finding no clear error, the Court adopts the facts and procedural history set forth in the R & R.
Petitioner raised two grounds for relief in his § 2254 petition. See Petition at 5-7; ECF No. 1-2. Respondent agreed Petitioner exhausted his state remedies for both grounds as required by 28 U.S.C. § 2254(b)(1)(A), and that both grounds were ripe for adjudication in federal court. ECF No. 22 at 7-8. In Ground One, Petitioner argued the state plea court erred by accepting his guilty plea conditioned upon reservation of his right to appeal. Petition at 5, ECF No. 1-2 at 1-3. In Ground Two, Petitioner alleged his guilty plea was involuntary as a result of three instances of ineffective assistance of his plea counsel. Petition at 7, ECF No. 1-2 at 4-17. The Magistrate Judge's R & R addresses both grounds in detail. R & R at 3, 8-17.
Standard of Review
The Magistrate Judge makes only a recommendation to the Court. The Magistrate Judge's 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 must conduct a de novo review of those portions of the R & R to which specific objections are made, and it 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).
The Court must engage in a de novo review of every portion of the Magistrate Judge's report to which objections have been filed. Id. However, the Court need not conduct a de novo review when a party makes only "general and conclusory objections that do not direct the [C]ourt 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 specific objections to the R & R, the Court reviews only for clear error, Diamond v. Colonial Life & Acc. Ins. Co., 416 F.3d 310, 315 (4th Cir. 2005), and the Court need not give any explanation for adopting the Magistrate Judge's recommendation. Camby v. Davis, 718 F.2d 198, 200 (4th Cir. 1983).
I. Habeas Standard
Because Petitioner filed his petition after the effective date of the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 (AEDPA), 28 U.S.C. § 2254 governs review of his claims. Lindh v. Murphy, 521 U.S. 320 (1997); Breard v. Pruett, 134 F.3d 615, 618 (4th Cir. 1998). Under the AEDPA, federal courts may not grant habeas corpus relief unless the underlying state adjudication:
(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 ...