United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Orangeburg Division
Bryan Harwell, United States District Judge
Julie Melton Mason, a state prisoner proceeding pro se,
initiated this action by filing a petition for a writ of
habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. See
ECF No. 1. Respondent answered by filing a return and a
motion for summary judgment. See ECF Nos. 16 &
17. The matter is now before the Court for review of the
Report and Recommendation (R & R) of United States
Magistrate Judge Kaymani D. West. See R & R [ECF
No. 35]. The Magistrate Judge recommends granting
Respondent's motion for summary judgment and dismissing
Petitioner's § 2254 petition with prejudice. R &
R at 2, 30. Petitioner has filed objections to the R & R.
See Pet.'s Objs. [ECF No. 41].
State of South Carolina indicted Petitioner on two counts of
felony driving under the influence (DUI) resulting in death
and two counts of felony DUI resulting in great bodily
injury. ECF No. 16-1 at 72-79. Petitioner pled guilty to one
count of felony DUI resulting in death, one count of reckless
homicide, and two counts of felony DUI resulting in great
bodily injury. Id. at 3-25. The state plea court
sentenced her to twenty years' imprisonment on the
conviction for felony DUI resulting in death, a consecutive
sentence of ten years' imprisonment suspended on five
years' probation for the reckless homicide conviction,
and concurrent terms of fifteen years' imprisonment on
the two convictions for felony DUI resulting in great bodily
injury. Id. at 25. Petitioner did not
file a direct appeal.
filed an application for post-conviction relief (PCR) in
state court. Id. at 27-34. After holding a hearing
at which Petitioner and her plea counsel testified, the PCR
court denied and dismissed the PCR application with
prejudice. Id. at 40-71. Petitioner filed a
Johnson petition for a writ of certiorari from the
denial of her PCR application, and the South Carolina Supreme
Court denied the Johnson petition and remitted the
case. See ECF Nos. 16-2, 16-3, 16-4, & 16-5.
then filed the instant petition for a writ of habeas corpus
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. See ECF No. 1.
Respondent answered by filing a return and a motion for
summary judgment. ECF Nos. 16 & 17. The Magistrate Judge
issued an R & R recommending that the Court grant
Respondent's motion for summary judgment and dismiss
Petitioner's § 2254 petition with prejudice. R &
R at 2, 30. After receiving an extension of time, Petitioner
filed timely objections to the R & R. See ECF
Nos. 37, 38, & 41. Respondent filed a timely reply to
Petitioner's objections. See ECF No. 43.
Review of the Magistrate Judge's R & R
Magistrate Judge makes only a recommendation to the Court.
The Magistrate Judge's recommendation has no presumptive
weight, and the responsibility to make a final determination
remains with the Court. Mathews v. Weber, 423 U.S.
261, 270-71 (1976). The Court must conduct a de novo review
of those portions of the R & R to which specific
objections are made, and it 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. §
Court must engage in a de novo review of every portion of the
Magistrate Judge's report to which objections have been
filed. Id. However, the Court need not conduct a de
novo review when a party makes only “general and
conclusory objections that do not direct the [C]ourt to a
specific error in the [M]agistrate [Judge]'s proposed
findings and recommendations.” Orpiano v.
Johnson, 687 F.2d 44, 47 (4th Cir. 1982). In the absence
of specific objections to the R & R, the Court reviews
only for clear error, Diamond v. Colonial Life & Acc.
Ins. Co., 416 F.3d 310, 315 (4th Cir. 2005), and the
Court need not give any explanation for adopting the
Magistrate Judge's recommendation. Camby v.
Davis, 718 F.2d 198, 199-200 (4th Cir. 1983).
judgment is appropriate when no genuine issue of material
fact exists and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a
matter of law. Reyazuddin v. Montgomery Cty., Md.,
789 F.3d 407, 413 (4th Cir. 2015); see Fed. R. Civ.
P. 56(a) (“The court shall grant summary judgment 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.”). “A party asserting that a fact
cannot be or is genuinely disputed must support the assertion
by: (A) citing to particular parts of materials in the record
. . .; or (B) showing that the materials cited do not
establish the absence or presence of a genuine dispute, or
that an adverse party cannot produce admissible evidence to
support the fact.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(1). The facts and
inferences to be drawn from the evidence must be viewed in
the light most favorable to the non-moving party,
Reyazuddin, 789 F.3d at 413, but the Court
“cannot weigh the evidence or make credibility
determinations.” Jacobs v. N.C. Admin. Office of
the Courts, 780 F.3d 562, 569 (4th Cir. 2015).
Federal Habeas Review Under 28 U.S.C. §
Petitioner filed her petition after the effective date of the
Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996
(AEDPA), 28 U.S.C. § 2254 governs review of her claims.
Lindh v. Murphy, 521 U.S. 320 (1997); Breard v.
Pruett, 134 F.3d 615, 618 (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;
(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.
28 U.S.C. § 2254(d). “Section 2254(d)(1) describes
the standard of review to be applied to claims challenging
how the state courts applied federal law, while §
2254(d)(2) describes the standard to be applied to claims
challenging how the state courts determined the ...