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Golson v. Cartledge

United States District Court, D. South Carolina

January 3, 2017

Stanley Golson, #200479, Petitioner,
v.
Warden Leroy Cartledge, Respondent.

          ORDER

          Bruce Howe Hendricks United States District Judge.

         This matter is before the Court on Petitioner Stanley Golson's (“Golson” or “Petitioner”) pro se petition for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. In accordance with 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B) and Local Civil Rule 73.02(B)(2)(d) (D.S.C.), the matter was referred to a United States Magistrate Judge for initial review. On September 26, 2016, Magistrate Judge Shiva V. Hodges filed a Report and Recommendation (“Report”), outlining the issues and recommending that the Court grant Respondent's motion for summary judgment, dismiss this action with prejudice, and deny as moot Petitioner's motion to stay. Petitioner filed objections to the Magistrate Judge's Report on October 20, 2016, and Respondent filed a reply on November 7, 2016.

         BACKGROUND

         Petitioner is an inmate at the McCormick Correctional Institution of the South Carolina Department of Corrections, where he is serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole.[1] Petitioner was indicted by the Lexington County grand jury during the October 2006 term of court for distribution of crack cocaine within proximity of a school and distribution of crack cocaine. Joshua S. Kendrick, Esq., represented him at a jury trial on April 3-4, 2007, before the Honorable R. Knox McMahon, and the jury found Petitioner guilty as charged.

         Petitioner appealed his convictions and sentences to the South Carolina Court of Appeals. On appeal, Elizabeth A. Franklin-Best, Esq., of the South Carolina Commission on Indigent Defense represented Petitioner and filed a final brief on June 19, 2009, raising the following issue:

The circuit court erred in sentencing appellant Golson to a sentence of life without parole for distribution of .17 grams of crack cocaine and distribution of .17 grams of crack cocaine within proximity to a school in violation of the cruel and unusual punishment clause of the Eighth Amendment of the United States Constitution.

(ECF No. 21-2 at 6.)

         On July 6, 2010, the Court of Appeals filed an unpublished decision dismissing the appeal, and the remittitur was issued on July 22, 2010.

         Petitioner filed an application for post-conviction relief (“PCR”) on September 2, 2010, alleging ineffective assistance of trial and appellate counsel and lack of subject matter jurisdiction. The Honorable Frank R. Addy, Jr., held an evidentiary hearing on April 17, 2013, at which Petitioner and his PCR counsel, Charles Brooks, Esq., appeared. On February 26, 2014, Judge Addy filed an order of dismissal, denying several of Petitioner's claims and finding that Petitioner effectively abandoned certain other of his claims. Neither Petitioner nor counsel filed a Rule 59 motion seeking to have the PCR court address any issues other than those addressed in the February 2014 order.

         Petitioner appealed the denial of his PCR application, and Robert M. Pachak, Esq., of the South Carolina Commission of Indigent Defense, represented Petitioner on appeal. Pachak filed a Johnson[2] petition for a writ of certiorari with the South Carolina Supreme Court on April 18, 2015, raising the following issue: “Whether trial counsel was ineffective in failing to object to the trial judge providing audio equipment that allowed the jury to listen to the tape of the controlled buy with the confidential informant?”[3] (ECF No. 21-6 at 3.) Pachak also petitioned to be relieved as counsel, but on October 7, 2014, the South Carolina Supreme Court denied Pachak's motion and directed the parties to address the question raised in Pachak's Johnson petition. (ECF No. 21-7.) Therefore, on October 29, 2014, Pachak filed a petition for a writ of certiorari addressing the issue of whether trial counsel was ineffective for failing to object to the trial judge providing audio equipment that allowed the jury to hear the tape of the controlled buy. (ECF No. 21-8.)

         On April 22, 2015, the South Carolina Supreme Court granted the petition, and Pachak filed a brief on May 19, 2015, addressing the issue set forth above. On December 23, 2015, however, the South Carolina Supreme Court issued an order dismissing certiorari as improvidently granted. The remittitur was issued on January 8, 2016.

         In the meantime, Petitioner filed a second PCR application on October 30, 2014, alleging, among other things, claims of illegal sentence and conviction, fraud, perjury, invalid indictments, and prosecutorial misconduct. (ECF No. 21-15.) According to a Lexington County Public Index search, a conditional order of dismissal was issued on June 20, 2016.[4]

         Petitioner filed the instant § 2254 petition on March 1, 2016, alleging in ground one that the circuit court erred in sentencing him to life without parole for distribution of .17 grams of crack cocaine and distribution of .17 grams of crack cocaine within proximity to a school, in violation of the cruel and unusual punishment clause of the Eighth Amendment of the United States Constitution. In ground two, Petitioner alleges various claims of ineffective assistance of counsel, including, inter alia, claims that trial counsel was ineffective for failing to object to the use of Petitioner's prior convictions for enhancement of his sentence and for failing to object to the trial judge providing audio equipment that allowed the jury to listen to the tape of the controlled buy. In ground three, Petitioner claims that appellate counsel was ineffective for failing to raise a subject matter jurisdiction issue and a prosecutorial retaliation issue on appeal. (See ECF No. 1.)

         STANDARDS OF REVIEW

         I. The Magistrate Judge's Report

         The Magistrate Judge makes only a recommendation to the Court. The recommendation has no presumptive weight, and the responsibility to make a final determination remains with the Court. See Mathews v. Weber, 423 U.S. 261 (1976). The Court is charged with making a de novo determination of any portion of the Report to which a specific objection is made. The Court may accept, reject, or modify, in whole or in part, the recommendation made by the Magistrate Judge or recommit the matter to the Magistrate Judge with instructions. See 28 U.S.C. § 636(b). In the absence of specific objections, the Court reviews the matter only for clear error. See Diamond v. Colonial Life & Accident Ins. Co., 416 F.3d 310, 315 (4th Cir. 2005) (stating that “in the absence of a timely filed objection, a district court need not conduct a de novo review, but instead must ‘only satisfy itself that there is no clear error on the face of the record in order to accept the recommendation.'”) (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 72 advisory committee's note).

         II. Summary Judgment

         To grant a motion for summary judgment, this Court must find that “there is no genuine issue as to any material fact.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c). The Court is not to weigh the evidence, but rather to determine if there is a genuine issue of fact. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 249 (1986). If no material factual disputes remain, then summary judgment should be granted against a party who fails to make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of an element essential to that party's case, and on which the party bears the burden of proof. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317 (1986). All evidence should be viewed in the light most favorable to the non-moving party. See Perini Corp. v. Perini Constr., Inc., 915 F.2d 121, 123-24 (4th Cir. 1990).

         III. Habeas Corpus

         Because Petitioner filed his petition after the effective date of the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 (“AEDPA”), review of his claims is governed by 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d), as amended. Lindh v. Murphy, 521 U.S. 320 (1997); Breard v. Pruett, 134 F.3d 615 (4th Cir. 1998). Under the AEDPA, federal courts may not grant habeas corpus relief unless the underlying state adjudication

(1) resulted in a decision that was contrary to, or involved an unreasonable application of, clearly established Federal law, as determined by the Supreme Court of the United States; or
(2) resulted in a decision that was based on an unreasonable determination of the facts in light of the evidence presented ...

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