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Robinson v. Cartledge

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

December 4, 2017

Dayquan Robinson, Petitioner,
v.
Warden Cartledge, Respondent.

          REPORT OF MAGISTRATE JUDGE

          Kevin F. McDonald, United States Magistrate Judge.

         The petitioner, a state prisoner proceeding pro se, seeks habeas corpus relief pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. Pursuant to the provisions of 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B), and Local Civil Rule 73.02(B)(2)(c) (D.S.C.), this magistrate judge is authorized to review post-trial petitions for relief and submit findings and recommendations to the District Court.

         BACKGROUND

         The petitioner is currently incarcerated at McCormick Correctional Institution in the South Carolina Department of Corrections (doc. 1 at 1). He was indicted by the Sumter County Grand Jury in January 2012 on a multi-count indictment for discharging a firearm into an occupied vehicle, armed robbery, attempted armed robbery, and attempted murder. Co-defendant Terrance Goodman was named on the same indictment (doc. 127-28).

         After jury selection, the petitioner pled guilty before the Honorable R. Ferrell Cothran on July 23, 2012 (app. 1-2). Tim Murphy of the Third Circuit Public Defender's Office represented the petitioner, and Assistant Third Circuit Solicitor Jason Corbett appeared on behalf of the State (app. 1).

         The petitioner's plea was entered pursuant to North Carolina v. Alford, 400 U.S. 25, 31 (1970). As part of the plea negotiation, the State dismissed the fourth charge of attempted murder (app. 2). Also as part of the plea deal, the petitioner received a negotiated sentence as follows: ten years for discharging a firearm inside a vehicle, a concurrent fifteen years for armed robbery, and another concurrent fifteen years for attempted armed robbery (app. 11). The petitioner did not pursue a direct appeal.

         Underlying Case Facts[1]

         At approximately 6:00 p.m. on September 20, 2011, Corey Jones (driver) and Emanuel Perry and Darrell Bennett were riding in a vehicle in Sumter when they happened upon the petitioner and his co-defendant Goodman. Jones slowed his vehicle, and all five men began talking. Then, the petitioner and Goodman produced weapons and demanded money from the occupants of the vehicle, but only managed to get $20.00 from Jones and a cell phone. Shortly thereafter, Jones drove off, and as they left the scene, gunshots were fired at the vehicle by the petitioner and Goodman, both of whom were arrested at the scene that day. While they stood under arrest, one officer dialed the missing cell phone number and located the ringing cell phone in the same vicinity where the two suspects were being held. Additionally, a bullet matching shell casings recovered at the scene was found on the petitioner's person during the booking process at the police station (app. 6-9).

         PCR

         On December 12, 2012, the petitioner filed a pro se application for post-conviction relief ("PCR") (2012-CP-43-02373), raising the following claims:

(a) I did not receive all of the State evidence against him in my Rule 5. In my motion of discovery I didn't receive any statements from the above victims or witnesses.
(b) I feel as if the public defender appointed to me misrepresented me during my court proceeding. Public Defender Timothy Murphy only came to speak with me twice about my case.

(App. 13-21).

         The State filed a return on April 4, 2013 (app. 22-27). In the return, the State interpreted the petitioner's claims as falling into two categories: ineffective assistance of counsel and involuntary guilty plea. The latter interpretation applied to the petitioner's claim that he felt his public defender misrepresented him during his proceeding (app. 23).

         An evidentiary hearing was on April 14, 2015, before the Honorable George C. James, Jr. (app. 26). Charlie Johnson represented the petitioner at the hearing, and Assistant Attorney General Daniel Gourley appeared on behalf of the State (id.). At the hearing, the petitioner's counsel represented that they would proceed on two claims: (1) ineffective assistance for counsel's failure to property investigate and identify potential witnesses and (2) an alleged conflict of interest stemming from the Third Circuit Public Defender's Office's representation of both petitioner and his co-defendant (app. 31). The petitioner, his trial counsel, and Quinton Singleton testified (app. 29). Judge James denied and dismissed the petitioner's application in its entirety by order of dismissal filed September 10, 2015 (app. 115-26).

         PCR Appeal

         The petitioner appealed the PCR denial by way of a Johnson petition for writ of certiorari to the South Carolina Supreme Court (doc. 13-3). He was represented by Wanda Carter of the South Carolina Office Commission on Indigent Defense. In the Johnson petition[2], the petitioner raised the following issue:

The PCR judge erred in denying petitioner's allegation that a conflict of interest existed with respect to his attorney's representation of him because trial counsel practiced law in the same public defender office where his co-defendant's attorney, who was a public defender also, practiced law and this concurrent legal representation violated his Sixth Amendment right to effective assistance of counsel.

(Doc. 13-3 at 2).

         The petitioner filed a pro se Johnson petition with the Supreme Court of South Carolina, arguing a similar issue:

The PCR judge erred in denying the petitioner's allegation that a conflict of interest exist[ed] with respect to his attorney representation of him because the Petitioner never waived his right to have multiple representation. "However, " both attorneys practiced law in the same public defenders office and this concurrent legal representation ...

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