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Dunagin v. Warden of Livesay Correctional Institution

United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Rock Hill Division

January 27, 2017

Claude Dunagin, Petitioner,
v.
Warden of Livesay Correctional Institution, Respondent.

          ORDER

          PATRICK MICHAEL DUFFY United States District Judge

         This matter is before the Court on Petitioner Claude Dunagin's objections to United States Magistrate Judge Paige J. Gossett's report and recommendation (“R & R”) (ECF Nos. 27 & 24). The Magistrate Judge recommends granting Respondent's summary judgment motion (ECF No. 15) and denying both Petitioner's petition for relief under 28 U.S.C. § 2254 (ECF No. 1) and his motion for summary judgment (ECF No. 19). For the reasons stated herein, the Court overrules Petitioner's objections, adopts the R & R with one addition, and enters judgment as the R & R recommends.

         STANDARD OF REVIEW

         The Magistrate Judge makes only a recommendation to this Court. The R & R has no presumptive weight, and the responsibility for making a final determination remains with the Court. Mathews v. Weber, 423 U.S. 261, 270-71 (1976). This Court must conduct a de novo review of any portion of the R & R to which a timely, specific objection is made, and the Court may accept, reject, or modify the Magistrate Judge's findings and recommendations in whole or in part. Id. Additionally, the Court may receive more evidence or recommit the matter to the Magistrate Judge with instructions. Id. A party's failure to object is taken as the party's agreement with the Magistrate Judge's conclusions. See Thomas v. Arn, 474 U.S. 140 (1985). Absent a timely, specific objection-or as to those portions of the R & R to which no specific objection is made-this Court “must ‘only satisfy itself that there is no clear error on the face of the record in order to accept the recommendation.'” Diamond v. Colonial Life & Accident Ins. Co., 416 F.3d 310, 315 (4th Cir. 2005) (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 72 advisory committee's note).

         DISCUSSION

         The Magistrate Judge recommends granting summary judgment on both of Petitioner's asserted grounds for relief. Petitioner's objections relate to both grounds.

         I. The Trial Court's Subject Matter Jurisdiction

         In Ground One of his § 2254 petition, Petitioner argues the trial court lacked subject matter jurisdiction over his charge. The Magistrate Judge concluded this claim is not a cognizable § 2254 claim because it is purely a matter of state law. Petitioner objects to that conclusion by suggesting there is a dispute as to the facts underlying his claim. However, he has not identified any such dispute, and this Court sees none. Rather, his claim is purely legal and, as the Magistrate Judge correctly concluded, not cognizable here. The Court therefore overrules his objection.

         In Ground One, Petitioner also asserts he was improperly denied his right to a preliminary hearing, in violation of the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments. The R & R does not address this claim. However, it does not appear that Petitioner raised or pursued this claim in state court. As Petitioner exhausted his state-court remedies without perfecting that claim for this habeas proceeding, the Court denies that claim on the basis of procedural default. See Breard v. Pruett, 134 F.3d 615, 619 (4th Cir. 1998).

         II. Ineffective Assistance of Counsel

         In the PCR proceedings, Petitioner argued his trial counsel was ineffective in numerous respects, thereby violating his Sixth Amendment right to counsel. The PCR court rejected all of those ineffective-assistance claims. In Ground Two of his § 2254 petition, Petitioner argues that the PCR court's determinations on four of his ineffective-assistance claims were unreasonable and contrary to clearly established Supreme Court decisions.[1]

         The Magistrate Judge thoroughly analyzed all the claims in Ground Two and found they all lack merit. Petitioner's objections to those conclusions are merely restatements of his claims. As those objections are not proper, the Court overrules them. See, e.g., Anderson v. Dobson, 627 F.Supp.2d 619, 623 (W.D. N.C. 2007) (stating an objection “that merely restates the arguments previously presented” or “does nothing more than state a disagreement with a magistrate's suggested resolution” is not sufficient to trigger de novo review (citation and quotation marks omitted)).

         CONCLUSION

         Seeing no clear error in any other portion of the R & R, it is ORDERED that Petitioner's objections to the R & R are OVERRULED and that the R & R is ADOPTED. It is further ORDERED that Respondent's motion for summary judgment is GRANTED, that Petitioner's motion for summary judgment is DENIED, ...


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