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Washington v. Williams

United States District Court, D. South Carolina

June 21, 2018

William Washington, Petitioner,
v.
Warden Williams, Alan Wilson, Respondent.

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          BRISTOL MERCHANT UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         Petitioner, William Washington, a state prisoner at the McCormick Correctional Institution, part of the South Carolina Department of Corrections, filed this Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus pro se and in forma pauperis, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241. In this Petition, Petitioner challenges his 1999 criminal sentence for armed robbery. Petition, ECF No. 1 at 2; Petitioner's Brief, ECF No. 1-1 at 2-3. In March 1999, after a jury trial in the Court of Common Pleas for Florence County, Petitioner was found guilty of armed robbery and sentenced to life without the possibility of parole. ECF No. 1-1 at 2. Petitioner's ground for habeas relief is that his sentence exceeded the statutory maximum for armed robbery in South Carolina where the state allegedly unconstitutionally relied upon prior crimes that were inapplicable. ECF No. 1 at 8. Specifically, he argues that these prior convictions should not have been applicable to trigger the Recidivist Act, [1] as his prior armed robbery convictions occurred before the Recidivist Act became effective. ECF No. 1-1 at4-6.[2]

         Under established local procedure in this judicial district, a careful review has been made of the pro se petition filed in the above-captioned case pursuant to the procedural provisions of the Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996, Pub.L. 104-132, 110 Stat. 1214 (AEDPA), and in light of the following precedents: Denton v. Hernandez. 504 U.S. 25 (1992); Neitzke v. Williams. 490 U.S. 319, 324-25 (1989); Haines v. Kerner. 404 U.S. 519 (1972); Nasim v. Warden. Md. House of Corr.. 64 F.3d 951 (4th Cir. 1995); and Todd v. Baskerville. 712 F.2d 70 (4th Cir. 1983). Pro se petitions are also held to a less stringent standard than those drafted by attorneys, and a federal district court is charged with liberally construing a petition filed by a pro se litigant to allow for the development of a potentially meritorious case. See Hughes v. Rowe. 449 U.S. 5, 9 (1980) (quoting Haines v. Kerner. 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972)); Gordon v. Leeke. 574 F.2d 1147, 1151 (4th Cir. 1978) (citing Rice v. Olson. 324 U.S. 786, 791-92 (1945); Holiday v. Johnston, 313 U.S. 342, 350(1941)).

         Nonetheless, this Court is charged with screening Petitioner's lawsuit to determine if "it plainly appears from the petition and any attached exhibits that the petitioner is not entitled to relief in the district court." Rule 4 of the Rules Governing Section 2254 Cases in the United States District Courts. The requirement of liberal construction does not mean that the court can ignore a clear failure in the pleading to allege facts which set forth a claim currently cognizable in a federal district court. See Weller v. Dep't of Soc. Servs.. 901 F.2d 387, 391 (4th Cir. 1990). Such is the case here.

         Discussion

         The undersigned construes the Petition as seeking habeas corpus relief pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. See generally In re Wright. 826 F.3d 774, 783 (4th Cir. 2016) ["[W]hen a prisoner being held 'pursuant to the judgment of a State court' files a habeas petition claiming the execution of his sentence is in violation of the Constitution, laws, or treaties of the United States, the more specific § 2254 and all associated statutory requirements shall apply, regardless of the statutory label the prisoner chooses to give his petition."] (internal quotation marks omitted) (quoting Walker v. O'Brien. 216 F.3d 626, 633 (7th Cir. 2000)). However, Petitioner previously filed a § 2254 petition in this Court on August 23, 2005, and in an order entered July 13, 2006, the Honorable G. Ross Anderson, Jr., Senior United States District Judge, granted the respondents' motion for summary judgment and dismissed the action with prejudice. See Washington v. Rushton. No. 0:05-2394-GRA-BM, 2006 WL 2050582 (D.S.C. July 13, 2006). On January 19, 2011, Petitioner filed a second § 2254 Petition, which was dismissed without prejudice. See Washington v. Cartledee. No. 9:11-148-JFA-BM (D.S.C.).[3] Petitioner then filed a prior § 2241 petition in June 2014 (Case Number 14-2244-MGL-BM), which was summarily dismissed without prejudice as a successive § 2254 petition. Washington v. Cartledee. No. 9:14-2244-MGL-BM, 2017 WL 2927584, at *2 (D.S.C. July 10, 2017).

         "Under the AEDPA, an individual may not file a second or successive § 2254 petition for a writ of habeas corpus or [a 28 U.S.C.] § 2255 motion to vacate sentence without first receiving permission to do so from the appropriate circuit court of appeals." In re Vial,, 115 F.3d 1192, 1194 (4th Cir. 1997). The "gatekeeping" mechanism created by the AEDPA amended § 2244(b) to provide:

The prospective applicant must file in the court of appeals a motion for leave to file a second or successive habeas application in the district court. § 2244(b)(3)(A). A three-judge panel has 30 days to determine whether "the application makes a prima facie showing that the application satisfies the requirements of § 2244(b). § 2244(b)(3)(C); see §§ 2244(b)(3)(B), (D).

Felker v. Turpin. 518 U.S. 651, 657 (1996). Therefore, since Petitioner's previous § 2254 petition (Civil Action No. 0:05-2394-GRA-BM) was decided on the merits, the Petition filed in this action should be summarily dismissed because it is successive and there is no indication that Petitioner requested and received permission from the United States Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals before he submitted it to this Court. See Slack v. McDaniel. 529 U.S. 473, 485-89 (2OOO)[to qualify as a "successive" petition, prior petition must have been adjudicated on the merits].[4]

         This is so even if Petitioner is attempting to bring this successive petition on grounds not raised in his original petition, as under the AEDPA an individual may not file a second or successive § 2254 petition for a writ of habeas corpus (or the equivalent thereof) without first receiving permission to do so from the appropriate circuit court of appeals, [5]as the "gatekeeping" mechanism of 28 U.S.C. § 2244(b)(3)(A) provides that, "[b]efore a second or successive application permitted by this section is filed in the district court, the applicant shall move in the appropriate court of appeals for an order authorizing the district court to consider the application."[6] See In re Williams. 364 F.3d 235, 238 (4th Cir. 2004) [the "initial determination of whether a claim satisfies" the requirements of § 2244(b)(2) "must be made by a court of appeals"]; In re Fowlkes, 326 F.3d 542, 544 (4th Cir. 2003) ["Since Fowlkes has previously filed a section 2254 motion, he may only file a successive section 2254 motion if he receives authorization from this court [the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals] under the standard established in section 2244(b)(3)(C)."]; United States v. Winestock. 340 F.3d 200, 205 (4th Cir. 2OO3)["In the absence of pre-filing authorization [from the court of appeals], the district court lacks jurisdiction to consider an application containing abusive or repetitive claims."].

         Recommendation

         Based on the foregoing, it is recommended that the instant Petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus be summarily dismissed without prejudice and without requiring Respondent to file a return.

         Petitioner's attention is directed to the important notice onroe next page.

         Notice of Right to File Objections to Report ...


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