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Shumpert v. Eagleton

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

May 17, 2016

Tyrone Shumpert, #292828, Petitioner,
Willie Eagleton, Respondent.


          MARY GORDON BAKER, Magistrate Judge.

         Tyrone Shumpert ("Petitioner") is a state prisoner incarcerated at Evans Correctional Institution in South Carolina. He has filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254 and is proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis. This matter is before the Court pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §636(b)(1)(B) and Local Civil Rule 73.02(B)(2)(c) (D.S.C.) for initial screening. Having reviewed the petition and applicable law, the Magistrate Judge recommends that this unauthorized successive § 2254 petition should be summarily dismissed, without prejudice to the Petitioner's ability to seek permission from the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals to file a successive petition, for the following reasons:

         I. Pro Se Habeas Review

         Under established local procedure in this judicial district, the Magistrate Judge has carefully reviewed the petition pursuant to the procedural provisions of the Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 ("AEDPA"), Pub. L. 104-132, 110 Stat. 1214, and in light of the following precedents: Denton v. Hernandez, 504 U.S. 25 (1992); Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 324-25 (1989); Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519 (1972).

          Pro se pleadings are given liberal construction and are held to a less stringent standard than those drafted by attorneys. Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007) (per curiam); De'Lonta v. Angelone, 330 F.3d 630, 633 (4th Cir. 2003). Courts liberally construe pro se claims to allow the development of a potentially meritorious case. Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972); Gordon v. Leeke, 574 F.2d 1147, 1151 (4th Cir. 1978). However, "[t]he special judicial solicitude' with which a district court should view... pro se complaints does not transform the court into an advocate. United States v. Wilson, 699 F.3d 789, 797 (4th Cir. 2012), cert. denied, 133 S.Ct. 2401 (2013). Only those questions which are squarely presented to a court may properly be addressed." Weller v. Dept. of Soc. Servs. for City of Baltimore, 901 F.2d 387, 391 (4th Cir. 1990). Giving "liberal construction" does not mean that the Court can ignore a petitioner's clear failure to allege facts that set forth a cognizable claim. "Principles requiring generous construction of pro se complaints... [do] not require... courts to conjure up questions never squarely presented to them." Beaudett v. City of Hampton, 775 F.2d 1274, 1278 (4th Cir. 1985), cert. denied, 475 U.S. 1088 (1986).

         II. Background

         The Petitioner's criminal case arose out of an armed robbery one evening in May 2002 in Laurens County, South Carolina, when a small group of individuals robbed two patrons of a local laundromat. In November of 2002, Petitioner was indicted for conspiracy to commit armed robbery, two counts of armed robbery, and possession of a firearm during the commission of a violent crime. On April 28, 2003, he received a jury trial, at which both victims and one of the robbery participants testified. The jury convicted him of conspiracy and two counts of armed robbery, but acquitted him on the weapons charge. Petitioner was sentenced to twenty-two (22) years for each robbery charge to run concurrently and five (5) years for the conspiracy charge.

         On direct appeal, Petitioner's counsel filed a brief pursuant to Anders v. California, 386 U.S. 738 (1967). Petitioner also filed a pro se brief complaining of a Batson violation, prosecutorial misconduct, bolstering of witnesses, improper seating of a juror, and ineffective assistance of counsel. The South Carolina Court of Appeals dismissed the appeal in an unpublished opinion, State v. Shumpert, Op. No. 2005-UP-095 (S.C. Ct. App. filed Feb. 8, 2005). After rehearing, remittitur was issued on March 15, 2003. Petitioner did not seek certiorari in the South Carolina Supreme Court.

         On May 24, 2005, Petitioner filed an application for state post-conviction relief ("PCR"), alleging ineffectiveness assistance of counsel because his counsel allegedly did not object to an alleged Batson violation and selection of an "all-white/elderly" jury, did not present an alibi defense, and did not object to a comment by the prosecutor alluding to the defense decision to not present a defense. The state court held an evidentiary hearing on January 18, 2006, with the petitioner personally present and represented by new counsel. The state court denied relief. Petitioner appealed to the South Carolina Supreme Court, which affirmed the judgement on May 12, 2008. See Shumpert v. State, 378 S.C. 62, 661 S.E.2d 369 (S.C. 2008). Remittitur was issued on May 29, 2008.

         On September 17, 2008, Petitioner filed a federal petition for habeas corpus petition. Petitioner asserted four grounds for relief: 1) trial counsel did not move for an alleged Batson violation; 2) trial counsel did not present an alibi defense; 3) trial counsel did not object to the prosecutor's statement that "there's been absolutely nothing presented for you not to believe Derrick Mosely" (one of the witnesses for the prosecution); and 4) the state judge in the PCR proceeding did not allow an affidavit of a juror into the record. The District Court denied relief and dismissed the habeas petition with prejudice on May 12, 2009. See Shumpert v. Rushton, Case No. 8:08-cv-03172-HFF-BHH, 2009 WL 1346149 (D.S.C. May 12, 2009).

         On March 11, 2010, Petitioner filed a second application for state PCR, which was dismissed on January 22, 2015. The remittitur of the South Carolina Supreme Court was filed on April 14, 2016.[1]

         On or about May 9, 2016 (approximately seven years after his first federal habeas petition was dismissed), Petitioner filed the present (second) federal petition for writ of habeas corpus. (DE# 1). In his own words, Petitioner alleges that: 1) the "PCR judge erred by failing to find Derek Mosely's admissions that Petitioner was not present at the scene of crime constituted new evidence warranting a new trial;" 2) the "PCR judge erred by failing to find Derek Mosely's testimony that he was incapacitated constituted newly discovered evidence warranting new trial;" and 3) "the falseness of the state's witness Derek Mosley's 2002 statements and 2003 trial testimony was coerced, constituting new evidence." ( Id. ). Petitioner asks for a "new trial, reversal, or vacate sentence." ( Id. at 15).

         III. Discussion

         This Court must screen this § 2254 petition to determine if "it plainly appears from the petition and any attached exhibits that the petitioner is not entitled to relief in the district court." Rule 4 of the Rules Governing Section 2254 Cases in the United States District Courts. Review of the record reflects that this is Petitioner's second § 2254 petition regarding the same conviction and sentence. This Court may properly take judicial notice of public records, including the Court's own docket. SeeColonial Penn Ins. Co. v. Coil,887 F.2d 1236, 1239 (4th Cir.1989); Assa'ad-Faltas v. South Carolina, 2012 WL 6103204 (D.S.C.), adopted by 2012 WL 6106421 (D.S.C.) ("the District Court clearly had the right to take notice of its own files and records"). Petitioner ...

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