United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Orangeburg Division
OPINION & ORDER
Timothy M. Cain United States District Judge
matter is before the court on Petitioner Willie James
Poole's (“Poole”) petition for a writ of
habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. In
accordance with 28 U.S.C. § 636(b) and Local Rule
73.02(B)(2), D.S.C., all pre-trial proceedings were referred
to a magistrate judge. On November 10, 2016, Magistrate Judge
Kaymani D. West filed a Report and Recommendation
(“Report”) recommending Respondent's motion
for summary judgment (ECF No. 17) be granted and the petition
denied. (ECF No. 28). On December 2, 2016, Poole timely filed
objections to the Report (ECF No. 30), and on December 13,
2016, Respondent filed a response to Poole's objections
(ECF No. 32).
Magistrate Judge makes only a recommendation to the court.
The recommendation has no presumptive weight. The
responsibility to make a final determination remains with the
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). However, 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).
Magistrate Judge sets forth the background and procedural
history detail in her Report (Report at 1-8), and Poole does
not object to that portion of the Report. Accordingly, the
court adopts these sections of the Report, and adds the
following brief rendition of the underlying offense. On
January 8, 2009, Poole was involved in an armed robbery of
the property manager at Dixie Estates Apartments. Poole gave
a written statement to law enforcement that he drove his two
co-defendants to the apartment manager's office and drove
them away after the robbery. Petitioner stated that
“[t]hey got anywhere between $1000 to $1500.”
(Attach. 1 at 32-187).
2010, Poole was indicted for armed robbery. He was
represented at trial by attorney Tim Sullivan. Following a
jury trial, he was convicted of armed robbery, and sentenced
to twenty-five years imprisonment. Poole appealed his
conviction and sentence raising one issue -whether the trial
court erred by failing to declare a mistrial when trial
counsel introduced improper character evidence. The South
Carolina Court of Appeals found the issue was not preserved
and affirmed Poole's conviction and sentence.
then filed an application for post-conviction relief
(“PCR”) raising two issues: ineffective
assistance of trial counsel and prosecutorial misconduct.
Following a hearing. The PCR court denied Poole relief. Poole
filed a writ of certiorari and raised the following issue:
whether trial counsel erred by failing to call a particular
witness who would have corroborated Poole's defense. The
South Carolina Supreme Court denied the petition. Poole then
filed this action seeking federal habeas relief.
federal habeas action, Poole raises the following four
grounds for relief:
GROUND ONE: The State Trial Court erred in not declaring a
mistrial when counsel improperly elicited prejudicial
GROUND TWO: Trial counsel erred in failing to call and
present a witness during trial who would have presented
GROUND THREE: Trial counsel was ineffective for failing to
impeach a State's witness about an agreement received
from the State.
GROUND FOUR: Prosecutorial Misconduct
Magistrate Judge found that Grounds One, Three, and Four are
procedurally barred and that the holding in Martinez v.
Ryan,132 S.Ct. 1309 (2012), would not excuse the
procedural default. As for Ground Two, the ...