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Alexander v. Cartledge

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

February 28, 2017

John Douglas Alexander, #194748, Petitioner,
v.
Leroy Cartledge, Warden, Respondent.

          OPINION & ORDER

          Henry M. Herlong, Jr. Senior United States District Judge

         This matter is before the court for review of the Report and Recommendation of United States Magistrate Judge Kevin F. McDonald, made in accordance with 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1) and Local Civil Rule 73.02 for the District of South Carolina.[1] John Douglas Alexander (“Alexander”) is a state prisoner seeking habeas corpus relief pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. In his Report and Recommendation, Magistrate Judge McDonald recommends granting Respondent's motion for summary judgment and dismissing Alexander's motion for default judgment and petition without an evidentiary hearing.

         I. Factual and Procedural Background

         Alexander is currently incarcerated at McCormick Correctional Institution in the South Carolina Department of Corrections. In November 2006, Alexander was indicted in South Carolina state court on charges of assault and battery with intent to kill (“ABWIK”) and possession of a firearm during the commission of a violent crime. (Mem. Supp. Mot. Summ. J. Ex. 1 (App'x 473-74), ECF No. 11-1.) After a jury trial, Alexander was found guilty of both charges on June 14, 2007. (Id. Ex. 1 (App'x 165), ECF No. 11-1.) Alexander was sentenced to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole for ABWIK and five years' imprisonment for the possession of a firearm. (Id. Ex. 1 (App'x 169), ECF No. 11-1.)

         On June 18, 2007, Alexander appealed his conviction. (Id. Ex. 2 (Notice of Appeal), ECF No. 11-2.) The South Carolina Court of Appeals affirmed Alexander's conviction in an opinion dated April 29, 2010. (Id. Ex. 1 (App'x 212), ECF No. 11-2.) On May 6, 2010, Alexander filed an application for post-conviction relief (“PCR”) raising the following grounds:

1. Ineffective assistance of trial counsel, in that:
a. Petitioner was denied his non-waivable Constitutional right to be present at a “critical state” of his criminal trial (Applicant's Grounds A, B);
b. Counsel conceded at trial that the evidence did not support a charge on self-defense (Applicant's Ground D);
c. Counsel failed to present a meaningful or effective defense at trial (Applicant's Ground I);
d. Counsel failed to adequately investigate, prepare for and advise Petitioner of a possible defense based on insanity (Applicant's Grounds H, K);
e. Petitioner was denied [the] right to peremptory challenge and strike a juror who after being selected, sworn in and the trial started, was discovered to have been associated with the judge (Applicant's Ground M);
f. Counsel failed to object to or request a mistrial when the phrase “malice and malice aforethought” was used forty-two times during closing arguments and the jury charge (Applicant's Ground G);
g. Counsel failed to object to the jury instructions (Applicant's Grounds P, R, and S);
2. Trial judge's abuse of discretion, in that:
a. Trial judge conspired along with the Solicitor to commit prosecutorial abuse by allowing the term “malice and malice aforethought” forty-two times during the closing argument and jury charge (Applicant's Ground N);
b. Jury instruction constituted prejudicial error (Applicant's Ground P);
3. Violation of due process, in that:
a. Petitioner's Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, and Fourteenth Amendment rights were violated (Applicant's Ground E, F); and
4. Prosecutorial misconduct, in that:
a. Prosecutor gave [a] false impression to Court and jury which involved a corruption of the truth seeking function of the trial process (Applicant's Ground J); and
b. Brady violation (Applicant's Grounds C, O).

(R&R 2-4, ECF No. 49 (citing Mem. Supp. Mot. Summ. J. Ex. 1 (App'x 215-45), ECF No. 11-1).) An evidentiary hearing was held on December 8, 2011. (Mem. Supp. Mot. Summ. J. Ex. 1 (App'x 329), ECF No. 11-1.) On March 26, 2012, the PCR court denied Alexander's PCR application. (Id. Ex. 1 (App'x 463-72), ECF No. 11-1.) The same day, Alexander filed a motion to alter or amend the judgment of the order of dismissal, pursuant to Rule 59(e) of the South Carolina Rules of Civil Procedure. (Id. Ex. 3 (Pet'r Mot. Alter or Amend J.), ECF No. 11-3.) On April 27, 2012, Alexander filed an amended motion to alter or amend the judgment. (Id. Ex. 4 (Pet'r Am. Mot. Alter or Amend J.), ECF No. 11-4.)

         On or about July 30, 2013, Alexander's case was transferred to the South Carolina Court of Appeals, pursuant to Rule 243(1) of the South Carolina Appellate Court Rules. (Id. Ex. 12 (Rule 243 Order), ECF No. 11-12.) The Court of Appeals denied Alexander's petition for writ of certiorari in an order dated May 21, 2015. (Mem. Supp. Mot. Summ. J. Ex. 13 (May 21, 2015 Order), ECF No. 11-13.) On June 8, 2015, the Court of Appeals issued its remittitur on the PCR Appeal. (Id. Ex. 15 (Jun. 8, 2015 Order), ECF No. 11-15.) Alexander filed a motion to rescind the remitittur on June 8, 2015. (Id. Ex. 16 (Pet'r Mot. Rescind Remittitur), ECF No. 11-16.) The Court of Appeals recalled the remittitur in an order dated June 25, 2015. (Id. Ex. 17 (Jun. 25, 2015 Order), ECF No. 11-17.) On August 20, 2015, the Court of Appeals denied Alexander' petition for rehearing. (Mem. Supp. Mot. Summ. J. Ex. 20 (Aug. 20, 2015 Order), ECF No. 11-20.) The Supreme Court of South Carolina dismissed Alexander's petition for writ of certiorari in an order dated September 21, 2015. (Id. Ex. 21 (Sep. 21, 2015 Order), ECF No. 11-21.)

         Alexander, acting pro se, filed the instant § 2254 petition on February 22, 2016, [2] alleging ineffective assistance of counsel. (§ 2254 Pet., generally ECF No. 1.) On April 21, 2016, [3]Alexander moved for default judgment. (Pet'r Mot. Default J., ECF No. 15.) Respondent responded on May 12, 2016. (Resp't Resp. Opp'n Mot. Default J., ECF No. 17.) On May 19, 2016, [4] Alexander replied. (Pet'r Reply, ECF No. 24.)

         On April 25, 2016, Respondent moved for summary judgment. (Resp't Mot. Summ. J., ECF No. 12.) Alexander responded on June 10, 2016.[5] (Pet'r Resp. Opp'n Mot. Summ. J., ECF No. 25.) On June 28, 2016, [6] and July 15, 2016, [7] Alexander filed supplements to his response in opposition to Respondent's motion for summary judgment. (Pet'r Supp. Resp. Opp'n Mot. Summ. J., ECF No. 30; Pet'r 2d Supp. Resp. Opp'n Mot. Summ. J., ECF No. 35.) On January 13, 2017, Magistrate Judge McDonald issued a Report and Recommendation recommending granting Respondent's motion for summary judgment and denying Alexander's petition and motion for default judgment. (R&R, ECF No. 49.) After receiving no objections and after a thorough review of the Report and Recommendation, the court entered an order on February 1, 2017, adopting the Report and Recommendation. (Feb. 1, 2017 Order, ECF No. 51). On February 2, 2017, [8] Alexander filed objections, which the court construed as a motion to alter or amend the judgment pursuant to Rule 59(e). (Objs., ECF No. 54.) The court denied Alexander's motion to alter or amend the judgment in an order dated February 8, 2016. On February 7, 2017, [9] Alexander filed a motion to alter or amend the judgment, which the court construed as a renewed motion to alter or amend the judgment, or, in the alternative, a motion for relief from judgment pursuant to Rule 60(b). (Mot. Alter or Amend J., ECF No. 57.) The court granted Alexander's motion to vacate the judgment in an order dated February 14, 2017. (Feb. 14, 2017 Order, ECF No. 59.) On February 23, 2017, Respondent replied to Alexander's objections. (Resp't Reply Pet'r Objs., ECF No. 61.) This matter is now ripe for consideration.

         II. Discussion of the Law

         A. Summary Judgment Standard

         Summary judgment is appropriate only “if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). In deciding whether a genuine issue of material fact exists, the evidence of the non-moving party is to be believed and all justifiable inferences must be drawn in his favor. See Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 255 (1986). However, “[o]nly disputes over facts that might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law will properly preclude the entry of summary judgment. Factual disputes that are irrelevant or unnecessary will not be counted.” Id. at 248.

         A litigant “cannot create a genuine issue of material fact through mere speculation or the building of one inference upon another.” Beale v. Hardy, 769 F.2d 213, 214 (4th Cir. 1985). “[W]here the record taken as a whole could not lead a rational trier of fact to find for the non-moving party, disposition by summary judgment is appropriate.” Monahan v. Cty. of Chesterfield, Va., 95 F.3d 1263, 1265 (4th Cir. 1996) (internal quotation marks and citation omitted). “[T]he mere existence of some alleged factual dispute between the parties will not defeat an otherwise properly supported motion for summary judgment; the requirement is that there be no genuine issue of material fact.” Ballenger v. N.C. Agric. Extension Serv., 815 F.2d 1001, 1005 (4th Cir. 1987) (internal quotation marks and citation omitted).

         B. Standard of Review in a § 2254 Petition

         In addition to the standard that the court must employ in considering motions for summary judgment, the court must also consider the petition under the requirements set forth in 28 U.S.C. § 2254. Under § 2254(d),

[a]n application for a writ of habeas corpus on behalf of a person in custody pursuant to the judgment of a State court shall not be granted with respect to any claim that was adjudicated on the merits in the State court proceedings unless the adjudication of the claim - (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 in the State court proceeding.

         As “a determination of a factual issue made by a State court shall be presumed to be correct, ” the petitioner has “the burden of rebutting the presumption of correctness by clear and convincing evidence.” 28 U.S.C. § 2254(e)(1). With respect to reviewing the state court's application of federal law, “‘a federal habeas court may grant the writ if the state court identifies the correct governing legal principle from [the Supreme] Court's decisions but unreasonably applies that principle to the facts of the prisoner's case.'” Humphries v. Ozmint, 397 F.3d 206, 216 (4th Cir. 2005) (quoting Williams v. Taylor, 529 U.S. 362, 413 (2000)). Further, “an ‘unreasonable application of federal law is different from an incorrect application of federal law, ' because an incorrect application of federal law is not, in all instances, objectively unreasonable.” Id. (quoting Williams, 529 U.S. at 410). “Thus, to grant [a petitioner's] habeas petition, [the court] must conclude that the state court's adjudication of his claims was not only incorrect, but that it was objectively unreasonable.” McHone v. Polk, 392 F.3d 691, 719 (4th Cir. 2004).

         C. Ineffective Assistance of Counsel

         In order to successfully challenge a conviction or sentence on the basis of ineffective assistance of counsel, Alexander must demonstrate that his counsel's performance fell below an objective standard of reasonableness, and that he was prejudiced by his counsel's deficient performance. See Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668, 687 (1984). With respect to the first prong, there is “a strong presumption that counsel's conduct falls within the wide range of reasonable professional assistance.” Id. at 689. In order to prove prejudice, Alexander must “show there is a reasonable probability that, but for counsel's unprofessional errors, the result of the proceeding would have been different. A reasonable probability is a probability sufficient to undermine the confidence in the outcome.” Id. at 694.

         D. Objections

         Alexander filed objections to the Report and Recommendation. Objections to the Report and Recommendation must be specific. Failure to file specific objections constitutes a waiver of a party's right to further judicial review, including appellate review, if the recommendation is accepted by the district judge. See United States v. Schronce, 727 F.2d 91, 94 & n.4 (4th Cir. 1984). In the absence of specific objections to the Report and Recommendation of the magistrate judge, this court is not required to give any explanation for adopting the recommendation. See Camby v. Davis, 718 F.2d 198, 199 (4th Cir. 1983).

         Upon review, the court finds that many of Alexander's objections are non-specific, unrelated to the dispositive portions of the magistrate judge's Report and Recommendation, or merely restate his claims. However, the court was able to glean several specific objections. Alexander objects that the magistrate judge erred in (1) denying his motion for default; (2) failing to consider Alexander's due process and equal protection claims; (3) refusing to consider Alexander's claims arising from errors of state law; and (4) finding that trial counsel was not constitutionally ineffective in failing to (a) object to the trial court's refusal to give a self-defense jury charge, (b) explain his charges and possible defenses, (c) adequately counsel him on the consequences of his failure to testify, (d) ensure that he was present at all critical stages of his trial, (e) object to the solicitor's failure to disclose material evidence, (f) object to the state's harassment of a witness, (g) object to the state's presentation of allegedly perjured testimony, (h) effectively question witnesses, (i) object to the solicitor's closing arguments, and (j) object to the trial court's jury instructions. (Objs., generally, ECF No. 54.)

         1. Alexander's Motion for Default Judgment

         Alexander objects that the magistrate judge erred in recommending denial of his motion for default judgment. (Id. at 37, ECF No. 54.) Alexander argues that the Respondent failed to file a motion for an extension and its motion for summary judgment was therefore untimely. (Id., ECF No. 54.)

         In an order dated March 3, 2016, the magistrate judge ordered Respondent to file its answer to Alexander's § 2254 petition or a responsive pleading within fifty days. (Mar. 3, 2016 Order 2, ECF No. 6.) Therefore, the Respondent's deadline to file a response was April 25, 2016.[10] Respondent filed its motion for summary judgment on April 25, 2016. (Resp't Resp. Opp'n Mot. Default J., ECF No. 17.) Therefore, Respondent's motion was timely and the magistrate judge did not err in recommending dismissal of Alexander's motion for default judgment. As a result, Alexander's objection is without merit.

         2. Due Process and Equal Protection Claims

         Alexander objects that the magistrate judge erred by construing his § 2254 petition to contain only ineffective assistance of counsel claims, rather than claims for ineffective assistance of counsel and violations of his right to due process and equal protection. (Id., ECF No. 54.)

         Every ground in Alexander's § 2254 petition argues that his right to due process and equal protection was violated through ineffective assistance of counsel. (E.g., § 2254 Pet. 35, ECF No. 1-1 (“GROUND ONE: That by and through ineffective assistance of counsel the Petitioner was denied and deprived of due process and equal protection of law under the fifth (5th), sixth (6th) and fourteenth (14th) Amendments of the United States Constitution.”).) Moreover, the magistrate judge properly applied the applicable law for ineffective assistance of counsel, which protects against violations of the accused's rights to counsel and due process. See Strickland, 466 U.S. at 684-85 (“The Constitution guarantees a fair trial through the Due Process Clauses, but it defines the basic elements of a fair trial largely through the several provisions of the Sixth Amendment, including the Counsel Clause . . . .”). Therefore, the magistrate judge's Report and Recommendation fully analyzed all of Alexander's claims for relief which were fairly presented. As a result, Alexander's objection is without merit.

         3. Consideration of State Law Issues

         Alexander objects that the magistrate judge erred by refusing to consider Alexander's claims which allege errors of state law. (Objs. 31-33, ECF No. 54.) Alexander argues that the magistrate judge should have fully considered Alexander's claims that the indictment did not provide adequate notice of the charges he faced, and the trial court erred by refusing to grant a self-defense jury charge. (Id., ECF No. 54.) Alexander argues these claims were proper because they arise from clear errors of both state and federal law. (Id. at 32, ECF No. 54 (citing United States v. Goetz, 746 F.2d 705, 708 (11th Cir. 1984); State v. Lee-Grigg, 649 S.E.2d 41, 49 (S.C. Ct. App. 2007).)

         “[I]t is not the province of a federal habeas court to reexamine state-court determinations on state-law questions. In conducting habeas review, a federal court is limited to deciding whether a conviction violated the Constitution, laws or treaties of the United States.” Estelle v. McGuire, 502 U.S. 62, 67-68 (1991). Alexander “cannot repackage . . . state law issue[s] into a federal one by citing the due process clause.” Missouri v. Beckwith, Civil Action No. 9:08-2878-SB, 2009 WL 3233521, at *5 (D.S.C. Sept. 29, 2009) (unpublished). Errors in state court indictments are matters of state law which are not subject to federal habeas review. Wright v. Angelone, 151 F.3d 151, 157 (4th Cir. 1998). Similarly, “questions of jury instructions are matters of state law, not cognizable on federal review, unless a specific constitutional issue is implicated that calls into question the Due Process Clause.” Grandison v. Corcoran, 78 F.Supp.2d 499, 507 (D. Md. 2000).

         In the instant case, the South Carolina Court of Appeals reviewed Alexander's pro se petition for writ of certiorari, considered the record, and found no error meriting appeal. (Mem. Supp. Mot. Summ. J. Ex. 13 (May 21, 2015 Order), ECF No. 11-13.) As a result, this court is bound by the state court's construction of South Carolina law, which is presumed correct unless the petitioner rebuts that presumption by clear and convincing evidence. § 2254(e)(1). Further, this court cannot grant relief based upon the state court's factual findings unless they are objectively unreasonable. § 2254(d)(2).

         Upon review, Alexander has failed to show that the due process clause is implicated by the state court's decision, and does not provide clear and convincing evidence that the state court's findings were in error. Therefore, the magistrate judge did not err in refusing to consider Alexander's claims for relief based upon errors of state law. As a result, Alexander's objection is without merit.

         4. Ineffective Assistance of Counsel

         a. Failure to Effectively Raise Self-Defense Theory

         Alexander objects that the magistrate judge erred in finding that the PCR court's determination that trial counsel was not ineffective for conceding Alexander's claim of self-defense and failing to object to the trial court's refusal to charge the jury on self-defense was not unreasonable or contrary to existing law. (Objs. 4-9, ECF No. 54.) Alexander argues that, because trial counsel testified during the PCR hearing that “[o]ut of an abundance of caution I might have [objected to the court's refusal to give a self-defense charge], ” the PCR court's decision that trial counsel was not ineffective was an unreasonable application of law. (Id. at 3-8, ECF No. 54 (quoting Mem. Supp. Mot. Summ. J. Ex. 1 (App'x 420), ECF No. 11-1).) Further, Alexander argues that the PCR court's decision that even had trial counsel objected, Alexander was not entitled to a jury charge on self-defense, is contrary to existing law. (Id. at 6-8, ECF No. 54.)

         The PCR court specifically addressed Alexander's arguments and found that trial counsel's decision not to pursue a self-defense charge was based upon sound trial strategy and that counsel was not ineffective. (Mem. Supp. Mot. Summ. J. Ex. 1 (App'x 469-70), ECF No. 11-1.) Specifically, the PCR court found:

Applicant . . . alleged that Counsel was ineffective when he conceded that a self-defense jury charge was not proper. Applicant testified that this was the only defense that was ever discussed between himself and counsel, never the lesser-included charge.
***
This Court finds that the Applicant has failed to meet his burden of proof. Counsel testified that although that was discussed as a potential defense, when the Applicant's sister testified, as the only eyewitness to the events, he did not feel that the testimony presented supported a self-defense charge. A defendant is entitled to a self-defense charge where the evidence shows that (1) he was without fault in bringing on the difficulty, (2) he actually believed he was in imminent danger of losing his life or sustaining serious bodily injury, (3) a reasonably prudent person of ordinary firmness and courage would have entertained the same belief, and (4) he had no other probable means of avoiding the danger other than to act as he did. State v. Sullivan, 345 S.C. 169, 547 S.E.2d 183 (2001); State v. [Addison], 338 S.C. 277, 525 S.E.2d 901 (2000).
Counsel testified that the sister's testimony did not support the fact that the victim was armed or that it was necessary for the Applicant to shoot the victim to stop the victim from hurting him or his sister. . . . Additionally, Counsel testified that he thought that the sister would be a strong witness for the defense who could help them reach the threshold of the requirement of evidence of imminent danger for bodily injury to the Applicant or sister. However, Counsel testified that the sister did not testify as she had indicated during previous conversations and he had to shift strategy for closing and focus on the lack of intent.
***
This Court finds that the Applicant has failed to meet his burden of proof as to this claim. The facts must support a jury instruction for it to be proper. State v. Crosby, 355 S.C. 47, 584 S.E.2d 110 (2003) . . . . Furthermore, the facts presented at trial through testimony did not support the charge of self-defense. Counsel is an experienced trial attorney who has prepared and presented many criminal cases which focused on self-defense and he is well-aware of the elements that must be met for a jury charge of self-defense to be considered. Even if this Court were to find that Counsel was deficient for conceding to no self-defense charge, prejudice cannot be established. It is clear that the trial judge did not feel that the Applicant had met the threshold for the charge and would not have allowed the charge even if Counsel had not conceded the issue.

(Id. Ex. 1 (App'x 469-70), ECF No. 11-1.) Furthermore, the PCR court found trial counsel's testimony credible. (Id. Ex. 1 (App'x 471C), ECF No. 11-1.)

         “Standing alone, unsuccessful trial tactics neither constitute prejudice nor definitively prove ineffective assistance of counsel.” Bell v. Evatt, 72 F.3d 421, 429 (4th Cir. 1995). “For a lawyer's trial performance to be deficient, his errors must have been so serious that he was not functioning as the counsel guaranteed the defendant by the Sixth Amendment.” United States v. Roane, 378 F.3d 382, 404 (4th Cir. 2004) (internal citations and quotation marks omitted). In order to successfully challenge the PCR court's credibility determination, Alexander must demonstrate a stark and clear error. Cagle v. Branker, 520 F.3d 320, 324 (4th Cir. 2008). “[F]ederal habeas courts [have] no license to redetermine credibility of witnesses whose demeanor has been observed by the state trial court, but not by them.” Id. Mere disagreement with a state court's credibility determination is not enough; rather, the federal court must determine that the state court's determination was wrong and “unreasonable in light of the evidence presented.” Merzbacher v. Shearin, 706 F.3d 356, 367 (4th Cir. 2013).

         In the instant case, Alexander has failed to demonstrate that the PCR court erred in finding trial counsel credible. The record supports the PCR court's conclusion. During the PCR hearing, trial counsel testified that Alexander's case “did not even get close to the threshold [of self-defense] based on the testimony.” (Mem. Supp. Mot. Summ. J. Ex. 1 (App'x 403), ECF No. 11-1.) Trial counsel based his testimony on his experience with self-defense cases and because there was no evidence of imminent threat. (Id. Ex. 1 (App'x 403, 411, 419), ECF No. 11-1.) Further, Alexander has failed to demonstrate that trial counsel's decision not to pursue a defense of self-defense was ineffective assistance. Therefore, the magistrate judge did not err in finding that the PCR court's decision was not contrary to or an unreasonable application of existing law. As a result, Alexander's objection is without merit.

         b. Failure to Explain Charges and Possible Defenses

         Alexander objects that the magistrate judge erred in finding that the PCR court's determination that trial counsel was not ineffective with respect to the claim that counsel failed to explain the charges Alexander faced and the elements of self-defense was not an unreasonable application of or contrary to existing law. (Objs. 9-11, ECF No. 54.) Alexander argues that trial counsel's explanation of the elements of ABWIK and self-defense in “layman's terms” failed to provide sufficient legal detail for Alexander to understand the nature of the charges against him, assist in his own defense, or knowingly agree to a course of action. (Id. at 10-11, ECF No. 54.) As a result, Alexander argues that the PCR court erred in finding credible trial counsel's testimony that he believed Alexander understood the elements of ABWIK and self-defense. (Id. at 11, ECF No. 54.)

         During the PCR hearing, Alexander testified that trial counsel did not explain the elements of ABWIK, assault and battery of a high and aggravated nature (“ABHAN”), self-defense, or defense of another. (Mem. Supp. Mot. Summ. J. Ex. 1 (App'x 337), ECF No. 11-1.) However, the PCR court did not find Alexander's testimony credible. (Id. Ex. 1 (App'x 471C), ECF No. 11-1.) In contrast, the PCR court found trial counsel's testimony about how he prepares for trial and the manner in which he explains the charges and defenses to his clients “very credible.” (Id. Ex. 1 (App'x 467), ECF No. 11-1.) Furthermore, the PCR court found that trial counsel was “fully prepared for trial” and was not ineffective. (Id. Ex. 1 (App'x 467-68), ECF No. 11-1.)

         Nothing in the record demonstrates that the PCR court made a stark and clear error in regard to its credibility determinations. Cagle, 520 F.3d at 324. Further, Alexander has failed to demonstrate that trial counsel's explanations were so inadequate as to result in ineffective assistance. Therefore, the magistrate judge did not err in finding that the PCR court's decision was not an unreasonable application of or contrary to existing law. As a result, Alexander's objection is without merit.

         c. Failing to Counsel on Consequences of ...


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