United States District Court, D. South Carolina
Demetrius A. Woodard, Petitioner,
State of South Carolina; Solicitor Scarlett Wilson; and Sheriff Al Cannon, Respondents.
ORDER AND OPINION
RICHARD MARK GERGEL UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT JUDGE
matter is before the Court on the Report and Recommendation
("R. & R.") of the Magistrate Judge (Dkt. No.
12) recommending that this Court dismiss the petition in this
case without prejudice and without requiring the respondent
to file an answer. For the reasons set forth below, this
Court adopts the R. & R. as the order of the Court.
Background and Relevant Facts
A. Woodard ("Petitioner"), proceeding pro
se and in forma pauperis, filed this petition for a writ
of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241.
Petitioner is a pretrial detainee at the Charleston County
Detention Center awaiting disposition of charges for failure
to stop for blue light. (Dkt. No. 1-2 at 1-3). He argues he
was denied the right to a bond and that his appointed
attorney denied him access to court when the initial bond was
set. Id. at 8. Petitioner also contends he is
innocent. Id. at 9. Petitioner demands that his
charges be dismissed or that he be granted a personal
recognizance bond. Id.
Pro Se Pleadings
Court liberally construes complaints filed by pro se
litigants to allow the development of a potentially
meritorious case. See Cruz v. Beto, 405 U.S. 319
(1972); Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519 (1972). The
requirement of liberal construction does not mean that the
Court can ignore a clear failure in the pleadings to allege
facts which set forth a viable federal claim, nor can the
Court assume the existence of a genuine issue of material
fact where none exists. See Weller v. Dep 't of
Social Services, 901 F.2d 387 (4th Cir. 1990).
Magistrate's Report and Recommendation
Magistrate Judge makes only a recommendation to this Court.
The recommendation has no presumptive weight, and the
responsibility for making a final determination remains with
this Court. See Mathews 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 and
Recommendation to which specific objection is made.
Additionally, the Court may "accept, reject, or modify,
in whole or in part, the findings or recommendations made by
the magistrate judge." 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1).
Magistrate Judge explained in the R. & R. that Petitioner
is precluded from federal habeas relief under the doctrine
established in Younger v. Harris, 401 U.S. 37 (1971)
because he seeks dismissal of his pending criminal charges or
a personal recognizance bond but has failed to show that he
has no adequate remedy at law or that he will suffer
irreparably injury if denied relief. In particular,
Petitioner can pursue his denial of bond or innocence claims
during the disposition of his criminal charges.
Younger, the Supreme Court held that a federal court
should not equitably interfere with state criminal
proceedings From Younger and its progeny, the Fourth
Circuit Court of Appeals has culled the following test to
determine when abstention is appropriate: "(1) there are
ongoing state judicial proceedings; (2) the proceedings
implicate important state interests; and (3) there is an
adequate opportunity to raise federal claims in the state
proceedings." Martin Marietta Corp. v.
Maryland Comm'n on Human Relations, 38 F.3d 1392,
1396 (4th Cir. 1994) (citing Middlesex County Ethics Comm
'n v. Garden State Bar Ass 'n, 457 U.S. 423, 432
(1982)). As the Magistrate Judge explained, Petitioner states
that he is currently detained pending disposition of state
criminal charges, satisfying the first part of the test. The
second part of the test is met because the Supreme Court has
noted that "the States' interest in administering
their criminal justice systems free from federal interference
is one of the most powerful of the considerations that should
influence a court considering equitable types of
relief." Kelly v. Robinson, 479 U.S. 36, 49
(1986). Finally, the Fourth Circuit has addressed the third
criterion in noting '"that ordinarily a pending
state prosecution provides the accused a fair and sufficient
opportunity for vindication of federal constitutional
rights.'" Gilliam, 75 F.3d at 904 (quoting
Kugler v. Helfant, 421 U.S. 117, 124 (1975)).
party has filed objections to the R. & R., and the
deadline to file objections has passed. In the absence of any
specific objections, "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." See Diamond
v. Colonial Life & Accident Ins. Co., 416 F.3d 310,
315 (4th Cir. 2005) (internal quotation omitted). This Court
finds that the Magistrate Judge has correctly applied the
controlling law to the facts of this case.