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 March 6, 2017, Magistrate Judge
Kaymani D. West filed a Report and Recommendation
(“Report”) recommending Respondent's motion
for summary judgment (ECF No. 12) be granted and the petition
be denied (ECF No. 21). On April 10, 2017, Poole filed
objections to the Report (ECF No. 31), and on April 19, 2017,
Respondent filed a response to those objections (ECF No. 33).
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).
Report, the magistrate judge sets out the facts and
procedural history in detail. Briefly, in December 2009,
Poole was indicted for murder and possession of a weapon
during the commission of a violent crime. Poole was also
charged in a separate indictment with assault and battery
with intent to kill (“ABWIK”). On January 17,
2012, Poole pled guilty to voluntary manslaughter and
possession of a weapon during the commission of a violent
crime and the ABWIK charge was dismissed. He was sentenced to
thirty years imprisonment for the manslaughter and five years
imprisonment for the weapons charge to run consecutively.
filed a direct appeal which was dismissed. Poole then filed
an application for post-conviction relief (“PCR”)
alleging ineffective assistance of counsel, due process
violations; and subject matter jurisdiction. He also alleged
his plea was involuntary and that the indictment was
defective. The PCR court denied Poole relief and dismissed
his application. Poole appealed filing a
Johnsonpetition and raising the following issue:
“Did the PCR court err in failing to find plea counsel
ineffective for not insuring that Petitioner Poole's
guilty plea was entered voluntarily and knowingly because
plea counsel failed to adequately investigate
Petitioner's case?” The South Carolina Supreme
Court denied Poole's petition for a writ of certiorari.
then filed this habeas petition raising the following grounds
for relief, quoted verbatim:
Ground One: Ineffective Assistance of
Supporting Facts: Counsel failed to
adequately investigate the facts of the case before
erroneously advising Petitioner to plead guilty to the lesser
included offense. Trial counsel had previously represented
Petitioner on armed robbery (5:15-5104-TMC-KDW) and therefore
counsel [knew] Petitioner could not have
committed the murder because Petitioner was committing armed
robbery at the time the murder was being committed (See
Attached additional facts).
Ground Two: Conflict of Interest.
Supporting Facts: Petitioner was forced to
enter a plea of guilty due to a conflict of interest.
Petitioner was previously represented by counsel on an
unrelated armed robbery (5:15-5104-TMC-KDW). Thereafter, a
jury trial Petitioner was convicted of the armed robbery. On
1-17-2012 Petitioner appeared before Judge Stillwell on the
instant offense, App.2, L.9-p.5, L.25. Judge Stillwell gave
Petitioner a choice to either roll with Sullivan or
self-representation. Petitioner had no choice but to plead
guilty. App. 6, L1-p.14, 1, 24.
(Habeas Petition at 6, 7-8, ECF No. 1 at 5, 6-7) (emphasis in
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, a federal court may not
grant habeas 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 application of the facts in light of the
evidence presented at the state court proceeding. 28 U.S.C.
§ 2254(d)(1) (2); see Williams v. Taylor, 529
U.S. 362, 398 (2000). “[A] federal habeas court may not
issue the writ simply because that court concludes in its
independent judgment that the relevant state-court decision
applied clearly established federal law erroneously or