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Edmonds v. Reynolds

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

March 14, 2016

Raymond Edmonds, Jr., #304228, a/k/a Raymond Edmonds, Petitioner,
Warden Cecelia Reynolds, Respondent.


PATRICK MICHAEL DUFFY United States District Judge

This matter is before the Court on Petitioner’s objections to United States Magistrate Judge Mary Gordon Baker’s report and recommendation (“R & R”) (ECF Nos. 33 & 26). The Magistrate Judge recommends granting Respondent’s summary judgment motion (ECF No. 15).


Petitioner agrees with the R & R’s statement of the facts and procedural history. The Court therefore adopts those portions of the R & R. To them, it adds that after Petitioner received the R & R, he requested additional time to object to it. The Court granted a twenty-day extension. Petitioner filed his objections within that extended deadline.


The Magistrate Judge makes only a recommendation to this Court. The R & R has no presumptive weight, and the responsibility for making a final determination remains with the Court. Mathews v. Weber, 423 U.S. 261, 270-71 (1976). This Court must conduct a de novo review of any portion of the R & R to which a timely, specific objection is made, and the Court may accept, reject, or modify the Magistrate Judge’s findings and recommendations in whole or in part. Id. Additionally, the Court may receive more evidence or recommit the matter to the Magistrate Judge with instructions. Id. A party’s failure to object is taken as the party’s agreement with the Magistrate Judge’s conclusions. See Thomas v. Arn, 474 U.S. 140 (1985). Absent a timely, specific objection-or as to those portions of the R & R to which no specific objection is made-this Court “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 & Accident Ins. Co., 416 F.3d 310, 315 (4th Cir. 2005) (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 72 advisory committee’s note).


The Magistrate Judge recommends granting summary judgment on all six of Petitioner’s asserted grounds for relief. Petitioner’s objections relate to the first four grounds.[2]

I. Ground 1: The Confidential Informant’s Identity

The police used a confidential informant’s tip to obtain a search warrant for Petitioner’s home. Trial counsel made a motion to compel the State to reveal the informant’s identity. The trial court denied the motion. In Ground 1, Petitioner argues the trial Court erred.

The Magistrate Judge recommends denying Ground 1 because the informant “was not an active participant or material witness to the crime charged.” (R & R, ECF No. 26, at 7.) Petitioner argues the informant was an active participant in the charged crimes, and thus was a material witness, because he participated in an undercover drug purchase at Petitioner’s house.

Petitioner’s contention lacks merit. The drug purchase in which the informant participated related only to a charge that the State dismissed before trial. The informant’s role in the drug purchase did not make him an active participant in, or a material witness to, any of the four charges on which Petitioner was tried. Rather, his only connection to those charges was his tip, and as the Magistrate Judge pointed out, when a confidential informant was “but a mere ‘tipster, ’ disclosure of his or her identity [is] not required.” E.g., United States v. Graham, 73 F. App’x 588, 591 (4th Cir. 2003) (per curiam). Thus, the Court overrules Petitioner’s objection and adopts the R & R’s analysis of Ground 1.

II. Ground 2: Validity of the Search Warrant

In Ground 2, Petitioner argues the trial court erred by denying trial counsel’s motion to suppress evidence police obtained in executing the search warrant. The Magistrate Judge concluded this ground is barred under Stone v. Powell, in which the Supreme Court held that “where the State has provided an opportunity for full and fair litigation of a Fourth Amendment claim, a state prisoner may not be granted federal habeas corpus relief on the ground that evidence obtained in an unconstitutional search or seizure was introduced at his trial.” 428 U.S. 465, 494 (1976) (footnotes omitted). Petitioner argues he did not get a full and fair opportunity to litigate the validity of the search warrant. The Court disagrees. The trial court allowed trial counsel to present arguments and evidence on the motion, and it ruled only after both sides finished their presentations. Petitioner then raised the issue on direct appeal, and the South Carolina Court of Appeals reviewed his argument. As the Magistrate Judge correctly found, those two levels of review constituted the full and ...

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