United States District Court, D. South Carolina
OPINION AND ORDER
Howe Hendricks United States District Judge
Lynn Larry Hunt, (“Petitioner”), proceeding
pro se, filed this application for a writ of habeas
corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. (ECF No. 1.) In
accordance with 28 U.S.C. § 636(b) and Local Rule
73.02(B)(2)(d), D.S.C., the action was referred to United
States Magistrate Judge Kevin McDonald, for pretrial handling
and a Report and Recommendation (“Report”).
Magistrate Judge McDonald recommends that Respondent’s
Motion for Summary Judgment be granted and Petitioner’s
§ 2254 petition be dismissed. (ECF No. 29.) The Report
sets forth in detail the relevant facts and standards of law
on this matter and the Court incorporates them without
filed this action against Respondent alleging ineffective
assistance of counsel. On July 27, 2016, the Magistrate Judge
issued a Report; and on August 10, 2016, Petitioner filed his
Objections. (ECF No. 31.) Having carefully reviewed the
record, the Court finds that the Magistrate Judge has
accurately and adequately summarized the disputed and
undisputed facts relevant to this action. The Court has
reviewed the objections, but finds them to be without merit.
Therefore, it will enter judgment accordingly.
Magistrate Judge makes only a recommendation to the district
court. The recommendation has no presumptive weight. The
responsibility to make a final determination remains with the
district court. Mathews v. Weber, 423 U.S. 261,
270-71 (1976). The Court is charged with making a de
novo determination of those portions of the Report to
which specific objection is made, and the court may accept,
reject, or modify, in whole or in part, the recommendation of
the Magistrate Judge, or recommit the matter with
instructions. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1). The Court need not
conduct a de novo review when a party makes only
“general and conclusory objections that do not direct
the court to a specific error in the magistrate’s
proposed findings and recommendations.” Orpiano v.
Johnson, 687 F.2d 44, 47 (4th Cir. 1982). In the absence
of a timely filed, specific objection, the Magistrate
Judge’s conclusions are reviewed only for clear error.
See Diamond v. Colonial Life & Accident Ins.
Co., 416 F.3d 310, 315 (4th Cir. 2005).
reviewing these pleadings, the Court is mindful of
Petitioner’s pro se status. When dealing with
a pro se litigant, the Court is charged with liberal
construction of the pleadings. See, e.g., De’Lonta
v. Angelone, 330 F.3d 630, 633 (4th Cir. 2003). The
requirement of a liberal construction does not mean, however,
that the Court can ignore a petitioner’s clear failure
to allege facts that set forth a cognizable claim, or that
the Court must assume the existence of a genuine issue of
material fact where none exists. See United States v.
Wilson, 699 F.3d 789, 797 (4th Cir. 2012).
Magistrate Judge found that Ground One is without merit and
the Court agrees. Ground One alleges that trial counsel was
ineffective for failing to investigate a potential alibi
witness and for failing to produce the alibi witness at
trial. (ECF No. 1 at 5.) The Magistrate Judge thoroughly
discussed this claim and correctly concluded that the ruling
of the state court was reasonable and that Petitioner failed
to carry his burden of establishing counsel was ineffective
as required by Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S.
886 (1984), and its progeny. (ECF No. 29 at 9-11.)
Court further agrees with the Magistrate Judge’s
finding that Ground Two raises the same issue as that in
Ground One and therefore is not a separate ground for habeas
relief. Ground Two states that “the att[orney] and
court made har[m]ful erro[r]s” concerning evidence of
an alibi witness. (ECF No. 1 at 7.) The Magistrate Judge
correctly determined that Petitioner was not entitled to
habeas relief to the extent he alleged an error by his PCR
counsel or PCR appellate counsel. (ECF No. 29 at 11-12);
see 28 U.S.C. § 2254(i) (“The
ineffectiveness or incompetence of counsel during Federal or
State collateral post-conviction proceedings shall not be a
ground for relief in a proceeding arising under section
2254.”). He correctly noted that while such an error
could potentially excuse a procedural default,
Petitioner’s grounds for relief had not been
procedurally defaulted. (Id. at 12.) He also
correctly found that any allegation of error by the PCR court
had been addressed in the disposition of Ground
objections are only conclusory statements, meritless
contentions, and arguments that the Magistrate Judge has
already considered and rejected. Thus, the Court is tasked
only with review of the Magistrate Judge’s conclusions
for clear error. Because the Court agrees with the cogent
analysis by the Magistrate Judge, it need not extensively
discuss those same issues for a second time here. Therefore,
the Court will overrule Petitioner’s objections.
thorough review of the Report, the record, and the applicable
law, the Court finds that Petitioner’s objections are
without merit. Accordingly, for the reasons stated above and
by the Magistrate Judge, the Court overrules
Petitioner’s objections, adopts the Report, and
incorporates it herein. It is therefore ORDERED that
Respondent’s motion for summary ...