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Martin v. Cartledge

United States District Court, D. South Carolina

November 5, 2015

Marcus Martin, #299118, Petitioner,
v.
Leroy Cartledge, Warden, Respondent.

REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

SHIVA V. HODGES, Magistrate Judge.

Marcus Martin ("Petitioner") is an inmate at the McCormick Correctional Institution of the South Carolina Department of Corrections who filed this pro se petition for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. This matter is before the court pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b) and Local Civ. Rule 73.02(B)(2)(c) (D.S.C.) for a Report and Recommendation on the following motions: (1) Respondent's motion for summary judgment and return [ECF Nos. 23, 24]; and (2) Petitioner's motion for summary judgment [ECF No. 27]. The motions having been fully briefed, they are ripe for disposition.

Having carefully considered the parties' submissions and the record in this case, the undersigned recommends that Respondent's motion for summary judgment be granted and Petitioner's motion for summary judgment be denied.

I. Factual and Procedural Background

According to the facts presented by the solicitor during the guilty plea hearing, Petitioner and four others planned a home robbery. [ECF No. 24-5 at 54-55]. Petitioner entered the home armed with a nine millimeter pistol, along with two accomplices. Id. at 55. Petitioner fatally shot a victim, and Petitioner's accomplice shot a second victim. Id. Petitioner and the two accomplices stole a pistol and money from the occupants of the house. Id.

Petitioner was indicted by the Anderson County grand jury in May 2003 for criminal conspiracy (2003-GS-04-1733), possession of a firearm during the commission of a violent crime (2003-GS-04-1734), murder (2003-GS-04-1735), armed robbery (2003-GS-04-1736; -1737), and assault and battery with intent to kill (2003-GS-04-1738). [ECF Nos. 24-5 at 137-45; 24-6 at 3-4]. Petitioner was represented by Robert Gamble, Esq., and on January 13, 2004, Petitioner pled guilty as charged before the Honorable J. Cordell Maddox, Jr., Circuit Court Judge. [ECF No. 24-5 at 48-66]. Judge Maddox sentenced Petitioner to 30 years. Id. at 66. Petitioner did not file a direct appeal. [ECF No. 1 at 2].

On or about July 14, 2004, Petitioner filed an application for post-conviction relief ("PCR") (2004-CP-04-2184), asserting claims of denial of the right of appeal, ineffective assistance of counsel, subject matter jurisdiction, and denial of the right to prove the elements of murder beyond a reasonable doubt. [ECF No. 24-5 at 73-89]. A PCR evidentiary hearing was held before the Honorable John C. Hayes, III, Circuit Court Judge, on November 15, 2007, at which Petitioner and his counsel, Rodney Richey, Esq., appeared. Id. at 96-120. On December 3, 2007, Judge Hayes filed an order finding Petitioner was not informed of the elements of the charges to which he pled. Id. at 128. The PCR court vacated Petitioner's plea, voided his sentences, and granted Petitioner a new trial. Id. The PCR court denied relief on Petitioner's remaining allegations. Id. at 121-28.

The State filed a motion to alter or amend judgment pursuant to South Carolina Rules of Civil Procedure 59(e), which the PCR court denied on January 3, 2008. Id. at 129-36. The State timely appealed the grant of PCR and filed a petition for writ of certiorari in the South Carolina Supreme Court on or about May 23, 2008, raising the following issue:

Did the PCR court err in finding that plea counsel was ineffective for failing to explain the elements of each charge against Respondent and the possible sentences that he was facing, which resulted in a plea that was not knowingly and voluntarily entered into.

Id. at 147. The State filed an amended petition for writ of certiorari on or about June 9, 2008. Id. at 153-60. Petitioner did not file a cross-appeal. The case was transferred to the South Carolina Court of Appeals ("Court of Appeals") for disposition, which granted certiorari on December 18, 2009. Id. at 171. The State filed a brief on or about March 26, 2010, raising the following issue:

Did the PCR court err in finding that the plea court failed to explain the elements of each charge against Respondent, thus finding that Respondent's plea was not knowingly and voluntarily entered into?

Id. at 175-82. On November 2, 2011, the Court of Appeals issued an unpublished opinion reversing the PCR court's grant of relief and remanding the matter to the PCR court for further proceedings. Id. at 194-96. On February 2, 2012, Judge Hayes filed an order on remand denying PCR. Id. at 197-203.

Petitioner appealed from the denial of PCR and was represented by Deputy Chief Appellate Defender Wanda H. Carter of the South Carolina Commission on Indigent Defense, Division of Appellate Defense. [ECF No 24-1]. Attorney Carter filed a petition for writ of certiorari in the South Carolina Supreme Court on or about July 13, 2012, raising the following issue:

The PCR judge erred by finding in the Order on Remand that petitioner did not establish his burden of proving that he was uninformed of the elements of all of the offenses to which he pled guilty and that no prejudice resulted in the case because no evidentiary basis existed in the entire record to support the PCR judge's findings.

Id. at 3. The case was transferred to the Court of Appeals for disposition and the court issued an order on September 25, 2014, denying certiorari. [ECF No. 24-3]. The remittitur was issued on October 13, 2014. [ECF No. 24-4].

Petitioner filed this federal petition for a writ of habeas corpus on October 28, 2014. [ECF No. 1-3 at 2].[1]

II. Discussion

A. Federal Habeas Issues

Petitioner raises the following grounds in his petition:

Ground One: Due Process Violation - "Insufficient" plea colloquy between the court (plea) and the Petitioner.

Supporting Facts: 1. While originally starting off as a trial, the circumstances changed to a guilty plea, after strenuous urgings from defense counsel. 2. Judge quickly accepted the transition and entered into a plea colloquy between himself, defense counsels, and defendants. 3. During the colloquy between the Judge and the Petitioner, the court failed to ensure the "crime elements" and sentencing terms.

Ground Two: Due Process Violation - Improper "Reversal on Remand." (PCR and S.C. Court of Appeals).

Supporting Facts: 1. After PCR relief, Petitioner became "Respondent" on certiorari. 2. South Carolina Supreme Court transferred case to S.C. Court of Appeals for Certiorari Review. 3. Court of Appeals (Remanded) Petitioner's case back to PCR, "after" revising the relief from "due process violation, " to one of "I.A.C."! "All PCR relief, " was then "retracted" by the PCR Court!

Ground Three: Due Process Violation - Unknowing, Involuntary and Unintelligent guilty plea.

Supporting Facts: 1. Petitioner "not able" to "review discovery" until PCR presentation. 2. Petitioner was not "ensured" the understandings of the charges, elements, or sentencing guidelines, by either the plea court or defense counsel. 3. Petitioner testified "going through the ...

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