United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Rock Hill Division
PATRICK MICHAEL DUFFY United States District Judge
matter is before the Court on Petitioner’s objections
to United States Magistrate Judge Paige J. Gossett’s
report and recommendation (“R & R”) (ECF Nos.
47 & 32). The Magistrate Judge recommends granting
Respondent’s summary judgment motion (ECF No. 24) and
denying Petitioner’s petition for relief under 28
U.S.C. § 2254.
objections were due February 8, 2016. Having received no
objections by February 11, the Court reviewed the R & R,
adopted it, and granted judgment for Respondent (ECF Nos. 37
& 38). However, Petitioner later demonstrated that he did
not receive a copy of the R & R until after his deadline
had already expired. The Court granted him until April 29 to
file objections. Petitioner filed objections on April 28. In
order to consider those objections, the Court hereby vacates
its February 11 order and judgment.
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
Magistrate Judge recommends granting summary judgment on all
four of Petitioner’s asserted grounds for relief.
Petitioner’s objections relate to his first, third, and
Sufficiency of the Evidence
trial, Petitioner’s counsel moved for directed verdict,
arguing that the State had not established Petitioner
possessed the drugs he was on trial for trafficking. The
trial court denied the motion. In Ground 1 of his habeas
petition, Petitioner argues the trial court erred.
question before this Court is not “whether, after
viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the
prosecution, any rational trier of fact could have
found the essential elements of the crime beyond a reasonable
doubt.” Jackson v. Virginia, 443 U.S. 307, 319
(1979). Rather, it is whether the South Carolina Court of
Appeals’ decision-that there was sufficient evidence to
support Petitioner’s convictions-was an objectively
unreasonable application of the Jackson standard.
Williams v. Ozmint, 494 F.3d 478, 489 (4th Cir.
2007) (citation omitted). After reviewing the trial
transcript and the Court of Appeals’ opinion, the
Magistrate Judge concluded Petitioner has not shown that the
Court of Appeals applied Jackson unreasonably.
purports to object to that conclusion. However, he merely
quotes the R & R, disagrees with the Magistrate
Judge’s conclusion, and restates arguments from his
petition and his memorandum in opposition to
Respondent’s summary judgment motion. The Court
summarily rejects this improper objection. See,
e.g., Anderson v. Dobson, 627 F.Supp.2d 619,
623 (W.D. N.C. 2007) (stating an objection “that merely
restates the arguments previously presented” or
“does nothing more than state a disagreement with a
magistrate’s suggested resolution” is not
sufficient to trigger de novo review (citation and quotation
this Court has carefully reviewed the Magistrate
Judge’s analysis of Ground 1. The Court concludes the
analysis is correct and adopts it.
Trial in Petitioner’s Absence
Ground 2, Petitioner claims trial counsel was ineffective for
not preventing the trial from proceeding in
Petitioner’s absence. The Magistrate Judge thoroughly
analyzed Ground 2 and concluded it lacks merit. However, the
Court declines to adopt that analysis. Petitioner withdrew
Ground 2 in his memorandum in opposition to
Respondent’s summary judgment motion. As that claim is
no longer before the Court, a decision on its merits is
unnecessary. See Sanders v. McFadden, No.
6:15-cv-492-RMG, 2016 WL 430485, at *3 (D.S.C. Feb. 3, 2016)
(declining to adopt magistrate ...