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Johnson v. Williams

United States District Court, D. South Carolina

October 15, 2018

James Edward Johnson, Jr., Petitioner,
v.
Charles Williams, Warden, Respondent.

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          PAIGE J. GOSSE, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         Petitioner James Edward Johnson, Jr., a self-represented state prisoner, filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254 and subsequently amended his petition. (ECF No. 24.) This matter is before the court pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b) and Local Civil Rule 73.02(B)(2) (D.S.C.) for a Report and Recommendation on Respondent's motion for summary judgment. (ECF No. 34.) Pursuant to Roseboro v. Garrison, 528 F.2d 309 (4th Cir. 1975), the court advised Petitioner of the summary judgment and dismissal procedures and the possible consequences if he failed to respond adequately to Respondent's motion. (ECF No. 38.) Petitioner filed a response in opposition. (ECF No. 38.) Having carefully considered the parties' submissions and the record in this case, the court finds that Respondent's motion should be granted and the Amended Petition be denied.

         BACKGROUND

         Petitioner was indicted by Spartanburg County Grand Jury for three counts of armed robbery, three counts of possession of a weapon during the commission of a violent crime, four counts of kidnapping, failure to stop a motor vehicle when signaled by an officer, and two counts of attempted armed robbery (12-GS-42-4474A; -4475; -4476; -4477; -4478; -4481; -4482; -4483; -4484; -4485; -5167). (App. at 145, ECF No. 33-1 at 147.) Petitioner was represented on the charges by Andrea Leah Price, Esquire. (App. at 1, ECF No. 33-1 at 3.) On December 18, 2012, Petitioner pled guilty as charged in the Spartanburg County Court of General Sessions and was sentenced to an aggregate term of thirty years' imprisonment, consecutive to his probation revocation. (App. at 5-9, 36-37, ECF No. 33-1 at 7-11, 38-39.) Petitioner did not appeal his convictions and sentences.

         Petitioner filed an application for post-conviction relief (“PCR”) in the Spartanburg County Court of Common Pleas on April 29, 2013. (App. at 40, ECF No. 33-1 at 42.) A hearing was held on the application in which Petitioner was represented by J. Brandt Rucker, Esquire. (App. at 56, ECF No. 33-1 at 58.) The court denied Petitioner's application at the hearing and by order dated March 26, 2015. (App. at 114-123, 127, ECF No. 33-1 at 116-125, 129.)

         Petitioner filed a pro se appeal of the denial of his PCR application by filing a petition for a writ of certiorari in the South Carolina Supreme Court. (ECF No. 33-3.) The court denied the petition. (ECF No. 33-5 at 1.) This action followed.

         The Amended Petition for a writ of habeas corpus raises the following issues, quoted verbatim:

Ground One: The PCR erred in denying relief to petitioner when the court erroneously found counsel was not ineffective for failing to provide adequate advice concerning the state's ability to prove “intent to permanently deprive” element of the charges against him. Violating state and federal constitutional right to effective assistance of counsel.
Ground Two: The PCR court erred in denying relief to petitioner when the court erroneously found that counsel was not ineffective for failing to challenge the validity of the armed robbery indictments before advising petitioner to plead guilty to said indictments. Violating state and federal constitutional rights to effective assistance of counsel.
Ground Three: The PCR erred in denying relief to petitioner, when the court erroneously found that counsel's failure to research/investigate possible defenses had no impact on the intelligent and voluntary nature of the plea. Violating his state and federal constitutional right to effective assistance of counsel.

(Pet., ECF No. 1 at 7; Am. Pet., ECF No. 24 at 1.)

         DISCUSSION

         A. Summary Judgment Standard

         Summary judgment is appropriate only if the moving party “shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the [moving party] is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). A party may support or refute that a material fact is not disputed by “citing to particular parts of materials in the record” or by “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). Rule 56 mandates entry of summary judgment “against a party who fails to make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of an element essential to that party's case.” Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986).

         In deciding whether there is a genuine issue of material fact, the evidence of the non-moving party is to be believed and all justifiable inferences must be drawn in favor of the non-moving party. See Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 255 (1986). However, “[o]nly disputes over facts that might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law will properly preclude the entry of summary judgment. Factual disputes that are irrelevant or unnecessary will not be counted.” Id. at 248.

         The moving party has the burden of proving that summary judgment is appropriate. Once the moving party makes this showing, however, the opposing party may not rest upon mere allegations or denials, but rather must, by affidavits or other means permitted by the Rule, set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial. See Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c), (e); Celotex Corp., 477 U.S. at 322. Further, while the federal court is charged with liberally construing a petition filed by a pro se litigant to allow the development of a potentially meritorious case, see, e.g., Erickson v. Pardus,551 U.S. 89 (2007), the requirement of liberal construction does not mean that the court can ignore a clear failure in the pleadings to allege ...


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