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Boone v. Beckwith

United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Florence Division

February 3, 2016

James Wesley Boone, Petitioner,
v.
Warden Beckwith, Respondent.

ORDER

R. Bryan Harwell United States District Judge

Petitioner James Wesley Boone, 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 ECF No. 1. The matter is before the Court for consideration of Petitioner’s objections to the Report and Recommendation (R & R) of United States Magistrate Judge Thomas E. Rogers, III.[1] See ECF Nos. 31 & 34. For the reasons stated below, the Court adopts the Magistrate Judge’s R & R, grants Respondent’s motion for summary judgment, and dismisses Petitioner’s § 2254 petition with prejudice.

Background [2]

In 2009, Petitioner pled guilty to armed robbery in state court, and the plea court imposed a sentence of fourteen years’ imprisonment.[3] See ECF No. 14-9 at 3-41. The South Carolina Court of Appeals affirmed Petitioner’s conviction and sentence in 2011, and Petitioner filed a state post-conviction relief (PCR) application that same year. See ECF No. 14-3; ECF No. 14-9 at 43-50. The PCR court denied and dismissed the application with prejudice in 2013, and the South Carolina Supreme Court denied Petitioner’s petition for a writ of certiorari in October 2014. See ECF No. 14-9 at 99-109; ECF No. 14-7. Petitioner filed the instant § 2254 habeas petition on May 19, 2015. See ECF No. 1.

Petitioner raised a single ground for relief in his § 2254 petition: that plea counsel was ineffective for failing to consult with the State to determine whether a negotiated plea offer-with a recommended sentence of ten years-had an expiration date and for failing to advise Petitioner that the plea offer did in fact have an expiration date. See Id. at 5. Respondent agreed Petitioner exhausted his state remedies for this ground as required by 28 U.S.C. § 2254(b)(1)(A), and that the ground was ripe for adjudication in federal court. ECF No. 14 at 5-6. Respondent filed a motion for summary judgment, as well as a return and supporting memorandum. See ECF Nos. 13 & 14. Petitioner filed a response in opposition to Respondent’s motion for summary judgment. See ECF No. 27. The Magistrate Judge issued an R & R recommending that the Court grant Respondent’s motion for summary judgment and dismiss Petitioner’s petition without an evidentiary hearing. See R & R, ECF No. 31. Petitioner filed timely objections to the R & R. See ECF No. 34.

Legal Standards

I. Review of the Magistrate Judge’s R & R

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 [M]agistrate [Judge]’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, 199-200 (4th Cir. 1983).

II. Federal Habeas Review Under 28 U.S.C. § 2254

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 presented in the State court proceeding.

28 U.S.C. § 2254(d). “Section 2254(d)(1) describes the standard of review to be applied to claims challenging how the state courts applied federal law, while § 2254(d)(2) describes the standard to be applied to claims challenging how the state courts determined ...


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