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Anderson v. Warden, Perry Corr. Inst.

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

June 21, 2018

Chadwick Deon Anderson, Petitioner,
v.
Warden, Perry Corr. Inst., Respondent.

          ORDER AND OPINION

         This matter is before the court upon review of the Magistrate Judge's Report and Recommendation (“Report”) (ECF No. 23), recommending that the court grant Respondent's Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF No. 15). For the reasons stated herein, the court ACCEPTS the Magistrate Judge's Report (ECF No. 23).

         I. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         The court concludes upon its own careful review of the record that the factual and procedural summation in the Report (ECF No. 23) is accurate, and the court adopts this summary as its own. The court will only cite herein procedures pertinent to the court's review of the Report (ECF No. 23). On February 14, 2018, Magistrate Judge Shiva V. Hodges filed the Report (ECF No. 23). Petitioner timely filed an Objection (ECF No. 30) after receiving an Extension of Time to File (ECF No. 28). Respondent then filed a Response to Petitioner's Objections to Magistrate Judge's Report. (ECF No. 31.)

         II. LEGAL STANDARD

         A. Report and Recommendation Legal Standard

         The Magistrate Judge's Report was made in accordance with 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1) and Local Civil Rule 73.02(B)(2)(a) for the District of South Carolina. The Magistrate Judge only makes a recommendation to this court, and the recommendation has no presumptive weight-the responsibility to make a final determination remains with this court. See 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 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 instruction. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1).

         B. Habeas Corpus Standard of Review

         Because Petitioner filed his petition after the effective date of the AEDPA, review of his claim is governed by 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d), as amended. See Breard v. Pruett, 134 F.3d 615, 619 (4th Cir. 1998). Under the AEDPA, federal courts may not grant habeas corpus 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 determination 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 incorrectly. Rather, that application must also be unreasonable.” Id. at 410. Moreover, state court factual determinations are presumed to be correct and the petitioner has the burden of rebutting this presumption by clear and convincing evidence. 28 U.S.C. § 2254(e)(1).

         III. ANALYSIS

         Petitioner alleges he received ineffective assistance of counsel due to his attorney deliberately entertaining a conflict of interest. When evaluating ineffective assistance of counsel claims, a court must recognize a strong presumption that counsel's conduct falls within the wide range of reasonable professional assistance; that is, the defendant must overcome the presumption that, under the circumstances, the challenged action “might be considered sound trial strategy.” Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668, 689 (1984). This high standard requires a habeas petitioner to show that counsel's errors deprived him “of a fair trial, a trial whose result is reliable.” Id. at 687.

         A. Application of Strickland

         In his objections, Petitioner generally restates the argument from his Petition that his plea counsel was ineffective due to a conflict of interest, and that the state court and the Magistrate Judge erred in failing to find Petitioner was entitled to relief under Strickland. (ECF No. 30 at 3.)

         As stated above, a federal habeas court can only issue a writ when a state court has unreasonably applied federal law. See Williams, 529 U.S. at 410. In evaluating an ineffective assistance of counsel claim with a habeas petition, the petitioner must satisfy the highly deferential standards of 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d) and Strickland “in tandem, ” making the standard “doubly” more difficult. Harrington, 562 U.S. at 105. “Section 2254(d) codifies the view that habeas corpus is a “guard against extreme malfunctions in the state criminal justice system, not a substitute for ordinary error correction through appeal.” Id. at 102 (quoting Jackson v. Virginia, 443 U.S. 307, 332 n.5 (1979)). Additionally, the United States Supreme Court has cautioned that “[s]urmounting Strickland's high bar is never an easy task.” Harrington, 562 U.S. at 88 (quoting Padilla v. Kentucky, 559 U.S. 356, 371 (2010)). The unreasonableness of the state court determination must be “beyond any possibility of fair-minded disagreement.” Id. at 103. Lastly, a defendant who raised no objection at trial must demonstrate that an actual conflict of interest adversely affected his lawyer's performance. Cuyler v. Sullivan, 446 U.S. 335, 348 (1980).

         The Post Conviction Relief (“PCR”) court found that there was no conflict of interest, therefore, the court's only duty is to determine the reasonableness of the PCR court's decision. (ECF No. 23 at 20.) Petitioner's evidence in regard to his lawyer's performance being adversely affected is that Petitioner and his co-defendant received identical sentences despite having different charges.[1] However, Petitioner has not provided any evidence that the PCR court's decision was unreasonable or that the PCR ...


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