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Smith v. Reynolds

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

September 26, 2016

TERRANCE V. SMITH, #311818, Petitioner,
v.
CECILIA REYNOLDS, Warden of Lee Correctional Institution, Respondent.

          ORDER

          DAVID C. NORTON, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This matter is before the court on United States Magistrate Judge Shiva V. Hodges' report and recommendation (“R&R”). The magistrate judge recommends that the court grant respondent Warden Cecelia Reynolds' (“respondent”) motion for summary judgment and deny the petition for a writ of habeas corpus under 28 U.S.C. § 2254. For the reasons set forth below, the court adopts the R&R, denies the petition, and grants respondent's motion for summary judgment.

         I. BACKGROUND[1]

         Petitioner Terrance V. Smith (“petitioner”) was indicted by a Lexington County grand jury during the May 2002 term of court for attempted armed robbery (2002-GS-32-1405), criminal conspiracy (2002-GS-32-1406), and murder (2002-GS-32-1407). During the February 2003 term of court, petitioner was indicted for first-degree burglary (2003-GS-32-743), possession of a firearm during commission of a violent crime (2002-GS-32- 745), assault and battery with intent to kill (“ABWIK”) (2003-GS-32-746), and ill treatment of an animal (2003-GS-32-1109). ECF Nos. 19-4 at 2-3, 7-8, 13-14, 16-17, 21-22, 25-26; 21. Petitioner was represented by Jonathan R. Hendrix, Esq. and Michael R. Ellisor, Esq., and proceeded to a jury trial on April 28 to May 2, 2003, before the Honorable Marc H. Westbrook, Circuit Court Judge. ECF No. 19-1 at 7. The jury found petitioner guilty of attempted armed robbery, criminal conspiracy, murder, first-degree burglary, possession of a firearm, and ABWIK, and acquitted petitioner of ill treatment of an animal. ECF No. 19-2 at 374-75. Judge Westbrook sentenced petitioner to life in prison without the possibility of parole. Id. at 393.

         Petitioner appealed his conviction and sentences to the South Carolina Court of Appeals (“Court of Appeals”). ECF No. 19-5. On appeal, petitioner was represented by Mary P. Miles, Esq. ECF No. 19-6. On November 30, 2005, the Court of Appeals filed an unpublished decision affirming petitioner's conviction. ECF No. 19-3 at 8-9. The remitter was issued on December 16, 2005. Id. at 10.

         Petitioner filed an application for post-conviction relief (“PCR”) on October 31, 2006, in which he alleged the following claims: (1) ineffective assistance of counsel, (2) prosecutorial misconduct, (3) unconstitutional sentence, and (4) due process violation. Id. at 11-20. On January 30, 2013, petitioner filed an amended PCR application raising a trial court error claim and additional claims of ineffective assistance of counsel. Id. at 71-72. A PCR evidentiary hearing was held before the Honorable Frank W. Addy, Jr., Circuit Court Judge, on April 15-16, 2013, at which petitioner and his counsel, Tara D. Shurling, Esq., appeared. Id. at 74-349. On April 2, 2014, Judge Addy filed an order of dismissal. Id. at 411-25. Petitioner filed a motion to alter or amend on April 24, 2014. Id. at 427-34. On May 12, 2014, Judge Addy filed an order modifying the court's April 2, 2014 order of dismissal. Id. at 435-36.

         On or about June 10, 2014, petitioner filed a timely notice of appeal from the PCR court's denial of his application. ECF No. 19-7. Jeremy A. Thompson, Esq. represented petitioner on appeal, and on or about November 5, 2014, filed a petition for writ of certiorari in the Supreme Court of South Carolina. ECF No. 19-8 at 3. On June 17, 2015, the Supreme Court of South Carolina denied the petition for writ of certiorari. ECF No. 19-11. The remittitur was issued on July 6, 2015. ECF No. 19-12.

         Petitioner filed this federal petition for a writ of habeas corpus on July 28, 2015. ECF No. 1-3 at 2. Petitioner raises the following three grounds for relief:

Ground One: Petitioner's 6th and 14th [Amendment] rights of the United States Constitution were violated because of ineffective assistance of counsel.
Supporting Facts: Please see Pet'r's Resp. 2-3
Ground Two: Petitioner's 5th and 14th [Amendment] rights of the United States Constitution were violated because of due process Brady violation.
Supporting Facts: Please see Pet'r's Resp. Pages 3-4
Ground Three: Petitioner's 6th and 14th [Amendment] rights of the United States Constitution were violated due to ineffective assistance of counsel.
Supporting Facts: Please see Pet'r's Resp. Page 5

ECF No. 1 at 5-8 (emphasis added).

         On December 2, 2015, respondent moved for summary judgment. Smith filed a response in opposition on February 19, 2016. Pet'r's Resp. On April 18, 2016, the magistrate judge issued an R&R, determining that Grounds One, Two, and Three were meritless. See R&R. Ultimately, the magistrate judge recommended that the court dismiss Smith's petition with prejudice and grant respondent's motion for summary judgment. R&R 1. Smith has filed an objection to the R&R and the matter is ripe for the court's review.

         II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         A. De Novo Review

         This court is charged with conducting a de novo review of any portion of the magistrate judge's R&R to which specific, written objections are made. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1). The court may adopt the portions of the R&R to which the petitioner did not object, as a party's failure to object is accepted as agreement with the conclusions of the magistrate judge. Thomas v. Arn, 474 U.S. 140, 149-50 (1985). The recommendation of the magistrate judge carries no presumptive weight, and it is this court's responsibility to make a final determination. Mathews v. Weber, 423 U.S. 261, 270-71 (1976).

         B. Section 2254

         This court has jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 2254 to hear a petition for a writ of habeas corpus made by a person imprisoned pursuant to a state court proceeding. The Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 (“AEDPA”) provides relief to a person in custody pursuant to the judgment of a state court if the custody is “in violation of the Constitution or laws or treaties of the United States.” 28 U.S.C. § 2254(a). AEDPA imposes a one-year statute of limitations period that begins to run on the date a petitioner's conviction becomes final. 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d)(1); Harris v. Hutchinson, 209 F.3d 325, 327 (4th Cir. 2000).

         Under South Carolina law, in a federal petition for habeas relief, a petitioner may present only those issues that were presented to the highest South Carolina court through direct appeal or through an appeal from the denial of a PCR application, regardless of whether the court actually reached the merits of the claim. See S.C. App. Ct. R. 203; S.C. Code Ann. § 17-27-90; Blakeley v. Rabon, 221 S.E.2d 767, 770 (S.C. 1976).

         Federal habeas corpus relief may not be granted on any claim that was adjudicated on the merits in the state court ...


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