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Sweat v. Warden Broad River Correctional Institution

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

August 10, 2017

Jeremy Shay Sweat, #326997, Petitioner,
v.
Warden Broad River Correctional Institution, Respondent.

          ORDER

         On July 28, 2016, Petitioner Jeremy Shay Sweat (“Petitioner”) filed this pro se Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254 (“Petition”) alleging police coercion that resulted in incriminating statements, ineffective assistance of plea counsel, and ineffective assistance of appellant counsel. (ECF No. 1.) This matter is before the court on Respondent's Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF No. 19).

         In accordance with 28 U.S.C. § 636(b) and Local Rule 73.02, the matter was referred to United States Magistrate Judge Mary Gordon Baker for pre-trial handling. On July 10, 2017, the Magistrate Judge issued a Report and Recommendation (“Report”) recommending that the court grant Respondent's Motion for Summary Judgment and deny the Petition. (ECF No. 41.) This review considers Petitioner's Response to Respondent's Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF No. 25), Petitioner's objection to the Magistrate Judge's Report (“Objections”) (ECF No. 70), Reply to Petitioner's Objections to the Report (ECF No. 44), and Petitioner's Supplement to his Objections (ECF No. 45). For the reasons set forth herein, the court ACCEPTS the Magistrate Judge's Report (ECF No. 41). The court thereby GRANTS Respondent's Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF No. 19) and DENIES Petitioner's Petition (ECF No. 1).

         I. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         The facts viewed in the light most favorable to the Petitioner are discussed in the Report. (See ECF No. 41.) The court concludes, upon its own careful review of the record, that the magistrate judge's factual summation is accurate and incorporates it by reference. The court will only recite herein facts pertinent to the analysis of Petitioner's Objections.

         Petitioner is incarcerated at Broad River Correctional Institution in the South Carolina Department of Corrections (“SCDC”). (ECF No. 1.) On October 4, 2007, a Grand Jury in Clarendon County, South Carolina indicted Petitioner for criminal sexual conduct in the first degree, criminal sexual conduct, assault and battery with intent to kill, and two counts of kidnapping. (ECF No. 18-2 at 19-21.) Petitioner was represented by Harry Devoe, Esquire. (ECF No. 18-1 at 3.) On March 10, 2008, Petitioner pled guilty to all five charges before the Honorable George C. James, Jr.; there was a recommended cap of forty years. (ECF No. 18-1 at 32-37.) As to indictment number 2007-GS-14-0364, Judge James sentenced Petitioner to thirty years for kidnapping, thirty years for criminal sexual conduct in the first degree, and twenty years for assault and battery with intent to kill. (ECF No. 18-1 at 47-48.) A colloquy between Judge James and Petitioner during sentencing appears to reflect that at least one of these sentences runs consecutively to other convictions as to this indictment. (Id.) As to indictment number 2007-GS-14-0363, Petitioner was sentenced to thirty years for kidnapping and thirty years for criminal sexual conduct in the first degree to be served concurrently. (Id.)

         Following Petitioner's sentence, Mr. Devoe requested that since Judge James did not consent to the recommended cap that he should vacate Petitioner's guilty plea and allow him to proceed to trial. (ECF No. 18-1 at 49.) However, Judge James denied this request. (Id. at 48-49.) On March 19, 2008, Petitioner filed a Motion for Reconsideration, requesting that Judge James “reconsider his sentence and reduce said sentence to the offered forty year cap.” (Id. at 51-52.) In October 2008, Judge James denied Petitioner's Motion for Reconsideration. (Id. at 54-55.)

         Petitioner, through Attorney Devoe, filed a Notice of Appeal on April 7, 2009. (ECF No. 18-3.) However, on June 10, 2009, the appeal was dismissed and his case was remitted to the lower court on July 6, 2009. (ECF No. 18-1 at 56-57.)

         On February 10, 2010, Petitioner filed a pro se Application for Post-Conviction Relief (“PCR”). (ECF No. 18-1 at 58-70.) On March 20, 2012, through Attorney Christina Dixon Parnall, Petitioner filed an Amended Application for Post-Conviction Relief, in which he asserted counsel was ineffective, and his guilty pleas were involuntary. (Id. at 78-80.) On March 22, 2012, a PCR evidentiary hearing was held before the Honorable W. Jeffrey Young. (Id. at 79-157.) Petitioner was represented by Christina Dixon Parnall, Esquire. (Id. at 81.) In an order dated on or about July 3, 2012, Judge Young denied Petitioner's Application for Post-Conviction relief and dismissed the petition. (Id. at 180); (ECF No. 18-2 at 1-7).

         On November 5, 2012, Petitioner, through Attorney Parnall, filed a “Rule 59(e) SCRCP, Motion to Alter or Amend (“Rule 59(e) Motion”). (ECF No. 18-2 at 9-14.) In an order dated November 6, 2014, Judge Young denied his Rule 59(e) Motion. (Id. at 15.)

         On June 26, 2015, Petitioner, through Attorney Laura R. Baer of the South Carolina Commission on Indigent Defense, filed a Petition for Writ of Certiorari. (ECF No. 18-5.) In an order dated June 16, 2016, the Supreme Court of South Carolina denied his Petition for Writ of Certiorari. (ECF No. 18-7) and remitted the matter to the lower court on July 5, 2016. (ECF No. 18-8.)

         II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         The Magistrate Judge's Report is made in accordance with 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1) and Local Civil Rule 73.02 for the District of South Carolina. The Magistrate Judge makes only a recommendation to this court. The recommendation has no presumptive weight. The responsibility to make a final determination remains with this court. See Matthews v. Weber, 423 U.S. 261, 270-71 (1976). This court is charged with making a de novo determination of those portions of the Report to which specific objections are made, and the court may accept, reject, or modify, in whole or in part, the magistrate judge's recommendation, or recommit the matter with instructions. See 28 U.S.C. § 636 (b)(1).

         Objections to a Report and Recommendation must specifically identify portions of the Report and the basis for those objections. Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b). “[I]n the absence of a timely filed objection, a district court need not conduct a de novo review, but instead 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 & Acc. Ins. Co., 416 F.3d 310, 316 (4th Cir. 2005) (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 72 advisory committee's note). Failure to timely file specific written objections to a Report will result in a waiver of the right to appeal from an Order from the court based upon the Report. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1); Thomas v. Arn, 474 U.S. 140, 155 (1985); Wright v. Collins, 766 F.2d 841 (4th Cir. 1985); United States v. Schronce, 727 F.2d 91, 94 (4th Cir. 1984). If the petitioner fails to properly object because the objections lack the requisite specificity, then de novo review by the court is not required.

         As Petitioner is a pro se litigant, the court is required to liberally construe his arguments. Gordon v. Leeke, 574 F.2d 1147, 1151 (4th Cir. 1978). The court addresses those arguments that, under the mandated liberal construction, it has reasonably found to ...


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