United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Rock Hill Division
Petitioner, appearing pro se, brought this action seeking relief pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254 (2012). This matter is before the court for review of the Magistrate Judge’s Report and Recommendation (“Report”) (ECF No. 52) recommending that Respondent’s Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF No. 32) be granted and Petitioner’s Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus (ECF No. 1) be dismissed without an evidentiary hearing. Petitioner filed an Objection to the Magistrate Judge’s Report and Recommendation. (ECF No. 57.) For the reasons set forth below, the court GRANTS Respondent’s Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF No. 32) and DISMISSES Petitioner’s Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus (ECF No. 1).
This court has jurisdiction over this matter pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254 (2012), which provides that a federal district court has jurisdiction to entertain a § 2254 petition when the petitioner is in custody of a state court in violation of the Constitution, laws, or treaties of the United States.
II. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
The Report contains a thorough recitation of the relevant factual and procedural background of the matter. (See ECF No. 52 at 1-5.) The court concludes upon its own careful review of the record that the Report’s factual and procedural summation is accurate, and the court adopts this summary as its own.
III. LEGAL STANDARD
A. The Magistrate Judge’s Report and Recommendation
The Report is made in accordance with 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1) (2012) and Local Civil Rule 73.02 for the District of South Carolina. The Magistrate Judge makes only a recommendation to this court. The court reviews de novo only those portions of a Magistrate Judge’s recommendation to which specific objections are filed. Diamond v. Colonial Life & Acc. Ins. Co., 416 F.3d 310, 315 (4th Cir. 2005); Camby v. Davis, 718 F.2d 198, 200 (4th Cir. 1983); Orpiano v. Johnson, 687 F.2d 44, 47 (4th Cir. 1982). She reviews those portions which are not objected to-including those portions to which only “general and conclusory” objections have been made-for clear error. Id. The court may accept, reject, or modify-in whole or in part-the recommendation of the Magistrate Judge or recommit the matter with instructions. See 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1).
B. Relief under 28 U.S.C. § 2254
The Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996, as codified in 28 U.S.C. § 2254, governs Petitioner’s federal habeas claims. Petitioners seeking relief pursuant to § 2254 usually must exhaust all available state court remedies before seeking relief in federal court. § 2254(b). Federal courts may not thereafter grant habeas corpus relief unless the underlying state adjudication comports with § 2254(d), which provides:
[a]n application for a writ of habeas corpus on behalf of a person in custody pursuant to the judgment of a State court shall not be granted with respect to any claim that was adjudicated on the merits in State court proceedings unless the adjudication of the claim-(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.
§ 2254(d) (emphasis added).
A state court’s decision is contrary to “clearly established federal law” when it “applies a rule that contradicts the governing law set forth” by the United States Supreme Court or confronts facts essentially indistinguishable from a prior Supreme Court decision and “nevertheless arrives at a result different from [Supreme Court] precedent.” Williams v. Taylor, 529 U.S. 362, 405-06 (2000). In contrast, a state court’s decision involves an “unreasonable application” of “clearly established” federal law 1) “if the state court identifies the correct governing legal rule from this [Supreme] Court’s cases but unreasonably applies it to the facts of the particular state prisoner’s case” or 2) “if the state court either unreasonably extends a legal principle from [Supreme Court] precedent to a new context where it should not apply or unreasonably refuses to extend that principle to a new context where it should apply.” Id. at 407.
In line with Williams, the Fourth Circuit has noted that an “unreasonable application” is not necessarily an “incorrect application” of federal law, explaining that “an incorrect application of federal law is not, in all instances, objectively unreasonable.” Humphries v. Ozmint, 397 F.3d 206, 216 (4th Cir. 2005) (citing Williams, 529 U.S. at 413). Thus, to grant a habeas petition, a federal court must determine that the state courts’ adjudication of a petitioner’s ...