United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Orangeburg Division
Teddie L. Grant, #342172, Petitioner,
R.H. Mauney, Respondent.
ORDER AND OPINION
Petitioner Teddie Grant (“Petitioner”) filed this pro se Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254 alleging ineffective assistance of counsel, denial of Rule 5 discovery, lack of subject matter jurisdiction, and unlawful prosecution. (ECF No. 1.) This matter is before the court on motions for summary judgment filed by Petitioner (ECF Nos. 19, 35, 41) and Respondent’s Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF No. 24).
In accordance with 28 U.S.C. § 636(b) and Local Rule 73.02, the matter was referred to United States Magistrate Judge Kaymani West, for pre-trial handling. On November 16, 2015, the Magistrate Judge issued a Report and Recommendation (“Report”) recommending the court grant Respondent’s Motion for Summary Judgment and deny the Petition. (ECF No. 48.) This review considers Petitioner’s Objections to Report and Recommendation (“Objections”), filed December 4, 2015. (ECF No. 50.)
I. RELEVANT FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
The court concludes upon its own careful review of the record that the factual and procedural summation in the Magistrate Judge’s Report is accurate, and the court adopts this summary as its own. (See ECF No. 48.) The court will only recite herein facts pertinent to the analysis of Petitioner’s Objections.
Petitioner is currently incarcerated at the Manning Correctional Institution within the South Carolina Department of Corrections (“SCDC”). (ECF No. 53).
In April of 2009, the Horry County Grand Jury issued an indictment charging Petitioner with trafficking in cocaine 28 to 100 grams. (ECF No. 48 at 2). Subsequently, in May 2010, Petitioner was indicted by a Horry County Grand Jury for trafficking in cocaine 10 to 28 grams. (ECF No. 48 at 2). On August 3, 2010, Petitioner entered a guilty plea to one trafficking charge and the lesser included charge of possession with intent to distribute cocaine base, first offense. The Honorable Larry B. Hyman, Jr., accepted Petitioner’s plea and sentenced Petitioner to seven years imprisonment for each conviction. (Id.). Further, Judge Hyman ordered that the sentences would run concurrently. (Id.) On March 11, 2011, Petitioner filed an Application for Post-Conviction Relief (“PCR”), which was denied on March 30, 2012, following an evidentiary hearing. (Id. at 3). Petitioner filed a Johnson Petition for Writ of Certiorari on August 24, 2012, which the South Carolina Court of Appeals denied on September 30, 2014. (Id. at 6)
Petitioner filed the instant habeas Petition on January 21, 2015, alleging four grounds for relief: (1) ineffective assistance of counsel for failure to investigate and request a preliminary hearing, (2) denial of Petitioner’s Rule 5 discovery prior to guilty plea, (3) lack of subject matter jurisdiction due to insufficient indictment, and (4) unlawful prosecution because the State lacked probable cause and personal jurisdiction over Petitioner. (ECF No. 1 at 6-11). Petitioner filed a Motion for Summary Judgment on May 4, 2015. (ECF No. 19). Respondent filed a Motion for Summary Judgment and Return and Memorandum of Law in Support of Motion for Summary Judgment on May 27, 2015. (ECF Nos. 24, 25). Subsequently, Respondent filed a Corrected Return and Memorandum of Law in Support of Motion for Summary Judgment. (ECF No. 29). On June 4, 2015, the court entered an order pursuant to Roseboro v. Garrison, 528 F.2d 309 (4th Cir. 1975), advising Plaintiff of the summary judgment procedures and the time period for filing a response. (ECF No. 30). Petitioner filed a response in opposition on August 8, 2015. (ECF No. 40). Petitioner also filed two additional motions for summary judgment. (ECF Nos. 35, 41).
On November 16, 2015, the Magistrate Judge issued the Report recommending the court grant Respondent’s Motion and dismiss the Petition. (ECF No. 48.) The Magistrate Judge found that Grounds Three and Four are procedurally barred because Petitioner failed to raise them properly throughout earlier stages of review. (Id. at 13). Specifically, the Magistrate Judge found that Ground Three was not raised on a direct appeal, Petitioner failed to raise it in his original PCR, and it was not addressed in the court’s PCR order. (Id.) Further, the Magistrate Judge found that although Petitioner did raise Ground Four in his PCR petition and that it was briefly discussed by the court in the PCR order, Petitioner failed to raise Ground Four in the Johnson petition appealing the PCR decision. Accordingly, the Magistrate Judge found that Petitioner did not exhaust his state law remedies with respect to Ground Four, which prevents this court from reviewing the claim. (Id. at 14-15). The Magistrate Judge also determined that Petitioner could not demonstrate prejudice for the default or that a miscarriage of justice would result from the court’s failure to review Petitioner’s procedurally defaulted claims. (Id. at 15).
With respect to Ground One-ineffective assistance of counsel-the Magistrate Judge determined that Petitioner cannot demonstrate that the PCR court unreasonably misapplied the law in rejecting Petitioner’s claims for ineffective assistance of counsel. Further, the Magistrate Judge determined that Petitioner could not demonstrate that the PCR court made objectively unreasonable factual findings. The PCR court determined that plea counsel’s testimony at the PCR hearing and the transcript of the guilty plea demonstrated that Petitioner’s claims of ineffective assistance of counsel were without merit. (Id. at 18). The Magistrate Judge determined that Petitioner knowingly and voluntarily entered a guilty plea that was in his best interest, and that Petitioner had previously stated on the record that he was satisfied with his counsel’s representation. (Id.) Thus, the Magistrate Judge found that Petitioner failed to carry his burden demonstrating that the PCR court misapplied the law regarding ineffective assistance of counsel.
Finally, the Magistrate Judge determined that Petitioner cannot demonstrate that the PCR court’s findings with respect to Ground Two were without support. (Id. at 22). In Ground Two, Petitioner alleges that he entered his guilty plea without understanding the sufficiency of the State’s evidence because his counsel did not allow him to review the discovery materials. During the PCR evidentiary hearing, plea counsel testified that he did not give Petitioner an actual copy of the discovery materials because he did not think it would be helpful; however, plea counsel testified that he did go over the discovery with Petitioner and did not prevent Petitioner from looking at discovery. (Id. at 21). The Magistrate Judge also noted that during the plea colloquy, Petitioner informed the court that he had an opportunity to review the evidence the State had against him. (Id.) The facts indicate that the State provided Petitioner with the evidence it had against him and that his plea counsel reviewed the evidence with Petitioner. (Id.) Thus, the Magistrate Judge determined that the PCR court’s application of federal law when evaluating Ground Two was not unreasonable.
Petitioner timely filed his Objections on December 4, 2015. (ECF No. 50.)
II. LEGAL STANDARD AND ANALYSIS
The Magistrate Judge’s Report is made in accordance with 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1) and Local Civil Rule 73.02 for the District of South Carolina. The Magistrate Judge makes only a recommendation to this court. The recommendation has no presumptive weight. The responsibility to make a final determination remains with this court. See Matthews v. Weber, 423 U.S. 261, 270-71 (1976). This court is charged with making a de novo determination of those portions of the Report to which specific objections are made, and the court may accept, reject, or modify, in whole or in part, the Magistrate Judge’s recommendation, or recommit the matter with instructions. See 28 U.S.C. § 636 (b)(1).
Objections to a Report and Recommendation must specifically identify portions of the Report and the basis for those objections. Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b). “[I]n the absence of a timely filed objection, a district court need not conduct a de novo review, but instead must ‘only satisfy itself that there is no clear error on the face of the record in order to accept the recommendation.’” Diamond v. Colonial Life & Acc. Ins. Co., 416 F.3d 310, 316 (4th Cir. 2005) (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 72 advisory committee’s note). Failure to timely file specific written objections to a Report will result in a waiver of the right to appeal from an Order from the court based upon the Report. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1); Thomas v. Arn, 474 U.S. 140, 155 (1985); Wright v. Collins, 766 F.2d 841 (4th Cir. 1985); Uni ...