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Blake v. Walker-Staley

United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Anderson/Greenwood Division

March 31, 2016

DERRICK T. BLAKE, Petitioner,
v.
MCI WARDEN N. WALKER-STALEY, Respondent.

ORDER

DAVID C. NORTON UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

This matter is before the court on Magistrate Judge Jacquelyn D. Austin’s Report and Recommendation (“R&R”) that this court grant MCI Warden N. Walker-Staley’s (“respondent”) motion for summary judgment. Petitioner Derrick T. Blake (“Blake”), who is seeking a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254, filed objections to the R&R. For the reasons set forth below, the court adopts the R&R, grants respondent’s motion for summary judgment, and denies the relief requested under § 2254.

I. BACKGROUND

Blake is currently incarcerated at the Chester County Detention Center. In August 2008, Blake was indicted for distribution of crack cocaine within proximity of a park and distribution of cocaine base. Blake proceeded to trial, and on December 3, 2008, the jury returned a verdict of guilty on both charges. Blake was sentenced to fifteen years of imprisonment on each charge, to be served concurrently.

Blake appealed his conviction, and on November 18, 2009, M. Celia Robinson of the South Carolina Commission on Indigent Defense (the “SCCID”) filed an Anders brief on Blake’s behalf. The South Carolina Court of Appeals dismissed the appeal and issued the remittitur on February 28, 2011.

On September 7, 2011, Blake filed a pro se application for post-conviction relief (“PCR”), asserting various ineffective assistance of counsel claims. The state filed a return, and the PCR court held a hearing on October 9, 2012, at which Blake was represented by counsel. On May 3, 2013, the PCR court filed an order denying and dismissing Blake’s application with prejudice. Blake timely appealed the dismissal of his PCR application. On January 17, 2014, Carmen V. Ganjehsani (“Ganjehsani”) of the SCCID filed a petition for writ of certiorari in the Supreme Court of South Carolina. The court denied the petition on August 7, 2014.

Blake contends that he learned of the denial of his petition on August 13, 2014, and filed a pro se motion for reconsideration on August 22, 2014. On August 25, 2014, the court issued the remittitur, and on September 3, 2014, the court mailed a letter explaining that it would take no action on Blake’s pro se motion for reconsideration.

Blake contends that he received neither the remittitur nor the letter regarding his pro se motion. Blake further contends that he sent a letter to the Clerk of Court of the Supreme Court of South Carolina (the “Clerk of Court”) on February 10, 2015, inquiring about the status of his pro se motion. The Clerk of Court responded on February 25, 2015, notifying Blake that the motion had been disposed of. After Blake inquired with the SCCID shortly thereafter, the SCCID provided Blake with a copy of the remittitur on March 5, 2015.

On April 16, 2015, Blake, appearing pro se, filed the instant habeas petition pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. On June 18, 2015, respondent filed a motion for summary judgment. Blake filed a response on August 25, 2015. On October 16, 2015, the magistrate issued the R&R, recommending the court grant the motion for summary judgment because Blake filed his petition after the statute of limitations had expired. Johnson filed objections to the R&R on October 28, 2015 and subsequently filed amended objections to the R&R on February 18, 2016. The matter has been fully briefed and is ripe for the court’s review.

II. STANDARDS

A.28 U.S.C. § 2254

The Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 (“AEDPA”) provides relief to persons in custody pursuant to the judgment of a state court on the ground that the custody is “in violation of the Constitution or laws or treaties of the United States.” 28 U.S.C. § 2254(a). The statute requires a petitioner to exhaust all available remedies in state court before the federal court may consider a claim. § 2254(b)(1)(A).

When a § 2254 petitioner’s habeas claim has been adjudicated on the merits in state court proceedings, the federal review court cannot grant relief unless the state court’s adjudication “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 “resulted in a decision that was based on an unreasonable ...


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