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Sullivan v. Cartledge

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

March 28, 2018

Jaques J. Sullivan, Petitioner,
Larry Cartledge, Warden, Perry Correctional Institution, Respondent.


          R. Bryan Harwell United States District Judge

         Petitioner, Jaques Jamar Sullivan, a state prisoner represented by counsel, filed the current petition for writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254 on January 9, 2017. See [ECF No. 1]. Pending before the Court is Respondent's motion for summary judgment [ECF No. 10] pursuant to Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.

         This matter is before the Court with the Report and Recommendation (R & R) of United States Magistrate Judge Mary Gordon Baker.[1] [ECF No. 17]. The Magistrate Judge recommended granting the Respondent's motion for summary judgment and dismissing Petitioner's petition with prejudice. For the reasons stated below, the Court adopts the Magistrate Judge's R & R, grants Respondent's motion for summary judgment, and dismisses Petitioner's § 2254 petition with prejudice.

         Facts and Procedural History

         On July 15, 2009, Petitioner was sentenced to twenty-five years in prison and a $50, 000.00 fine for trafficking cocaine and five years in prison for possession of a weapon during a violent crime. Petitioner's charges arose from a controlled buy involving an informant named Roddric Ingram. After Ingram contacted Petitioner and agreed to purchase cocaine, Petitioner was arrested at a nearby Burger King. Officers found 127.42 grams of cocaine and 8.48 grams of marijuana in Petitioner's possession. A subsequent search of Petitioner's home pursuant to a search warrant revealed an additional 84.11 grams of cocaine and a firearm.

         In the instant petition for habeas corpus, Petitioner claims he was denied effective assistance of counsel because his defense counsel was operating under an actual conflict of interest. Petitioner claims his defense counsel was representing Ingram's (informant) girlfriend, Julia Anderson, on drug charges at the same time he was representing Petitioner.

         The Magistrate Judge found Petitioner's claim to be without merit and recommended granting Respondent's motion for summary judgment. Petitioner timely filed objections to the Magistrate Judge's R&R.

         Legal Standards of Review

         I. Review of the Magistrate Judge's Report & Recommendation

         The 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 and recommendation 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 to the Magistrate Judge with instructions. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1). The right to de novo review may be waived by the failure to file timely objections. Orpiano v. Johnson, 687 F.2d 44, 47 (4th Cir. 1982). The district court is obligated to conduct 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's proposed findings and recommendations.” Id.

         II. Summary Judgment Review

         “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.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a) (2010). “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). When no genuine issue of any material fact exists, summary judgment is appropriate. See Shealy v. Winston, 929 F.2d 1009, 1011 (4th Cir. 1991). The facts and inferences to be drawn from the evidence must be viewed in the light most favorable to the non-moving party. Id. However, “the mere existence of some alleged factual dispute between the parties will not defeat an otherwise properly supported motion for summary judgment; the requirement is that there be no genuine issue of material fact.” Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 247-48 (1986).

         III. Federal Habeas Review under 28 U.S.C. § 2254

         Petitioner filed his petition after the effective date of the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 (“AEDPA”). Therefore, in considering Petitioner's ineffective assistance of counsel claim, the Court's review is limited by the deferential standard of review set forth in 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d). Lindh v. Murphy, 521 U.S. 320 (1997); Breard v. Pruett, 134 F.3d 615, 618 (4th Cir. ...

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