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Pringle v. McFadden

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

September 27, 2016

Stacy W. Pringle #141320, Petitioner,
Joseph McFadden, Warden, Respondent.




         Stacy W. Pringle (“Petitioner”), proceeding pro se, filed this petition for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254 against Joseph McFadden, Warden (“Respondent”).


         Petitioner is a South Carolina Department of Corrections (“SCDC”) inmate incarcerated at the Lieber Correctional Institution (“LCI”). ECF No. 1, p. 1. On April 10, 2015, Petitioner's petition for writ of habeas corpus was filed. Id. On September 8, 2015, Respondent made a motion for summary judgment and filed a return with a memorandum of law in support. ECF Nos. 23-24. Because Petitioner is proceeding pro se, the Magistrate Judge entered an order pursuant to Roseboro v. Garrison, 528 F.2d 309 (4th Cir. 1975), advising him of the importance of the motion and the need for him to file an adequate response. ECF No. 25. On January 19, 2016, Petitioner timely filed his response. ECF No. 38.[1]

         In accordance with 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B) and Local Civil Rule 73.02(B)(2)(c), D.S.C., the case was referred to the Magistrate Judge for pretrial handling.[2] On April 13, 2016, the Magistrate Judge issued a Report and Recommendation (“Report”) wherein she recommends this Court should grant Respondent's motion for summary judgment. ECF No. 40, p. 2. 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 to the Magistrate Judge with instructions. See 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1). In the absence of specific objections to the Report of the Magistrate Judge, this Court is not required to give an explanation for adopting the recommendation. See Camby v. Davis, 718 F.2d 198, 199 (4th Cir. 1983). The Report sets forth in detail the relevant facts and standards of law on this matter, and this Court incorporates those facts and standards without a recitation.[3]

         On April 21, 2016, Respondent filed objections to the Report. ECF No. 42. On May 9, 2016, Petitioner filed objections to the Report and a reply to Respondent's objections. ECF No. 49. Thus, this matter is ripe for this Court's review.[4]


         Petitioner raises five grounds on which he claims that he is being held in violation of the Constitution, laws, or treaties of the United States. ECF No. 1. The Magistrate Judge recommended that all grounds-except Ground Two-were not procedurally barred, [5] but all grounds warranted dismissal. ECF No. 40. Respondent made three objections and Petitioner made sixteen objections to the Report. ECF Nos. 42, 49. The recommendations and objections will be discussed in accordance with the ground it was made upon.

         A. Ground One

         Petitioner's first ground is “[t]he trial court erred in refusing to grant a mistrial where manifest necessity was clearly demonstrated” by the emotional outburst of the victim's mother at the beginning of the trial and the reaction of a juror (“Ground One”). ECF No. 1, p. 5. Regarding Ground One, the Magistrate Judge recommended it was not procedurally barred; however, she also recommended Ground One did not raise a cognizable habeas ground or, if deemed to raise a cognizable ground by the Court, Petitioner failed to demonstrate error or prejudice caused by the denial of a mistrial. ECF No. 40, p. 27. Therefore, the Magistrate Judge recommended that the state court's decision was not contrary to or involving an unreasonable application of clearly established federal law so it should be dismissed. Id.

         Respondent made no objections to the Report regarding Ground One. Petitioner objects to the Magistrate Judge's recommendation that he did not raise a cognizable habeas ground in his petition. ECF No. 49, p. 1 (Petitioner's Objection 1). Petitioner states that phrasing the ground to include specific Constitutional violations would cause Respondent to object because it was not the same claim as presented to the state court, and, furthermore, a pro se litigant is not required to use “specific nomenclature” when the ground clearly violates federal law. Id.[6]

         Petitioner is incorrect. While Ground One is not procedurally barred because it was raised and ruled upon by the state court, Petitioner cannot attempt to now couch this ground as additionally violating a Constitutional right in order to raise a cognizable federal habeas ground. In Duncan v. Henry, 513 U.S. 364, 365 (1995), a petitioner argued an evidentiary error constituted a “miscarriage of justice” on his direct appeal, but tried to couch this error as a denial of due process under the United States Constitution in his habeas petition. The Court reversed the Ninth Circuit's decision to affirm the grant of the petition and stated:

[E]xhaustion of state remedies requires that petitioners “fairly presen[t]” federal claims to the state courts in order to give the State the “‘opportunity to pass upon and correct' alleged violations of its prisoners' federal rights.” . . . If state courts are to be given the opportunity to correct alleged violations of prisoners' federal rights, they must surely be alerted to the fact that the prisoners are asserting claims under the United States Constitution. If a habeas petitioner wishes to claim that an evidentiary ruling at a state court trial denied him the due process of law guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment, he must say so, not only in federal court, but in state court.

Duncan v. Henry, 513 U.S. at 365-66 (quoting Picard v. Connor, 404 U.S. 270, 275 (1971)). Thus, Petitioner cannot claim that Ground One additionally alleges a Constitutional violation because he did not raise this issue before the state court as required. ECF No. 24-4, pp. 4, 6-7. Therefore, Petitioner has not asserted a cognizable habeas ground for Ground One and it is dismissed.[7]

         B. Ground Two

         Petitioner's second ground is “[t]he trial court erred in finding Petitioner could be impeached by a ‘similar' prior conviction outside the scope of prior bad act procedures, without conducting a probative v. prejudicial effect analysis, if Petitioner elected to testify” (“Ground Two”). ECF No. 1, p. 6. Regarding Ground Two, the Magistrate Judge recommended that it should be procedurally barred because Petitioner did not testify and Petitioner failed to show sufficient cause and prejudice, or actual innocence to excuse the default so Ground Two should be dismissed. ECF No. 40, p. 30.

         Respondent made no objections to the Report regarding Ground Two. Petitioner objects to the Report claiming that “trial court” should have been “trial counsel, ” post-conviction relief (“PCR”) counsel should have corrected the error for him, and “the record fully supports counsel's lack of a contemporaneous objection, failure to stipulate, or proffer, which should excuse the default.” ECF No. 49, p. 2 (Petitioner's Objection 2). Furthermore, Petitioner objects to the grant of summary judgment because “genuine issues of material fact exist to proceed further on the claim.” Id. (Petitioner's Objection 4). Finally, Petitioner objects to the Magistrate Judge's recommendation that the procedural default was not excused because Petitioner claims he has shown actual innocence or “the clearly established law” provides “an excuse from the perceived fault of the misuse of language in phrasing the claim.” Id. at 2-4 (Petitioner's Objections 3 and 7).

         First, Petitioner's proposed change from “trial court” to “trial counsel” is not appropriate because this modification would reform the entire ...

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