United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Beaufort Division
Norman E. Stoudenmire, Petitioner,
Warden of Perry Correctional Institution, Respondent.
Harwell United States District Judge.
Norman E. Stoudenmire, a state prisoner proceeding pro se,
commenced this action by filing a petition for a writ of
habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. See
ECF No. 1. Respondent answered and filed a motion for summary
judgment. See ECF No. 19. This matter is now before
the Court for review of the Report and Recommendation
(“R & R”) of United States Magistrate Judge
Bristow Marchant, made in accordance with 28 U.S.C. §
636(b)(1)(B) and Local Civil Rule 73.02(B)(2) (D.S.C.).
See ECF No. 31. The Magistrate Judge recommends
granting Respondent's motion for summary judgment and
dismissing Petitioner's § 2254 petition with
prejudice. Id. at p. 60.
Magistrate Judge makes only a recommendation to this Court.
The recommendation has no presumptive weight, and 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 R & R 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 with instructions.
See 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1); Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b).
party has filed objections to the R & R, and the time for
doing so has expired. In the absence of objections to the R
& R, the Court is not required to give any explanation
for adopting the Magistrate Judge's recommendations.
See Camby v. Davis, 718 F.2d 198, 199 (4th Cir.
1983). The Court reviews only for clear error in the absence
of an objection. See Diamond v. Colonial Life & Acc.
Ins. Co., 416 F.3d 310, 315 (4th Cir. 2005) (stating
that “in the absence of a timely filed objection, a
district court need not conduct 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'” (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 72 advisory
district court must issue or deny a certificate of
appealability when it enters a final order adverse to the
applicant.” Rule 11(a) of the Rules Governing Section
2254 Cases. A certificate of appealability will not issue
absent “a substantial showing of the denial of a
constitutional right.” 28 U.S.C. § 2253(c)(2).
When the district court denies relief on the merits, a
petitioner satisfies this standard by demonstrating that
reasonable jurists would find that the court's assessment
of the constitutional claims is debatable or wrong. Slack
v. McDaniel, 529 U.S. 473, 484 (2000); see Miller-El
v. Cockrell, 537 U.S. 322, 336-38 (2003). When the
district court denies relief on procedural grounds, the
prisoner must demonstrate both that the dispositive
procedural ruling is debatable, and that the petition states
a debatable claim of the denial of a constitutional right.
Slack, 529 U.S. at 484-85. In this case, the Court
concludes that Petitioner has failed to make the requisite
showing of “the denial of a constitutional
right.” Having reviewed the record for clear error, the
Court ADOPTS the R & R [ECF No. 31]
as modified by Footnote 2
below. Accordingly, the Court
GRANTS Respondent's motion for summary
judgment [ECF No. 19] and DENIES AND
DISMISSES Petitioner's § 2254 petition
with prejudice. The Court DENIES a
certificate of appealability because Petitioner has not made
“a substantial showing of the denial of a
constitutional right” under 28 U.S.C. §
IS SO ORDERED.
 Petitioner's objections were due
by October 22, 2018. See ECF Nos. 31 &
 After addressing each of
Petitioner's ineffective assistance claims, the R & R
broadly concludes that “all of Petitioner's
ineffective assistance” claims fail for lack of
Strickland prejudice based on “the
overwhelming evidence of Petitioner's guilt presented by
the State at trial.” R & R at pp. 50-51. One of
those claims was a conflict of interest claim. See
Id. at pp. 39-42.
To the extent the R & R suggests Petitioner's
conflict of interest claim is
susceptible to a Strickland prejudice analysis based
on “overwhelming evidence, ” the Court notes this
is not the correct legal standard. Instead, the correct
standard for a conflict claim is the two-prong test set forth
in Cuyler v. Sullivan, 446 U.S. 335
(1980)-“that (1) counsel operated under ‘an
actual conflict of interest' and (2) this conflict
‘adversely affected his lawyer's
performance.'” Woodfolk v. Maynard, 857
F.3d 531, 553 (4th Cir. 2017) (quoting Cuyler, 446
U.S. at 348); see, e.g., Hoffman v. Leeke,
903 F.2d 280, 287 (4th Cir. 1990) (rejecting the notion that
a conflict of interest claim is subject to a “harmless
error” analysis). In any event, the actual portion of
the R & R specifically ...