United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Orangeburg Division
OPINION AND ORDER
MARGARET B. SEYMOUR, SENIOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Stanley Shawn Davis is a prisoner in custody of the South
Carolina Department of Corrections who currently is housed at
Lee Correctional Institution in Bishopville, South Carolina.
On February 15, 2018, Petitioner filed a pro se petition for
writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. ECF
No. 1. In accordance with 28 U.S.C. § 636(b) and Local
Rule 73.02, D.S.C., this matter was referred to United States
Magistrate Judge Kaymani D. West for pretrial handling. This
matter is now before the court for review of the Magistrate
Judge's Report and Recommendation.
21, 2013, Petitioner was indicted by the Anderson County
Grand Jury for one count of Murder. ECF No. 21-1 at 79-80.
Petitioner pled guilty to one count of murder on October 2,
2013, and the state court sentenced him to 30 years'
imprisonment. Id. at 82. Petitioner filed an
application for Post-Conviction Relief (“PCR”),
wherein he asserted that he was being held in custody
unlawfully due to ineffective assistance of counsel and the
failure, either by his counsel or by the solicitor, to
request a hearing to investigate his competency, in
accordance with State v. Blair, 273 S.E.2d 536 (S.C.
1981). Id. at 26-31. The PCR court issued an order
of dismissal on March 28, 2016. Id. at 72-78.
Petitioner appealed, and filed a petition for writ of
certiorari pursuant to Johnson v. State, 364 S.E.2d
201 (S.C. 1988). The South Carolina Court of Appeals denied
the petition on January 23, 2018. ECF No. 21-8. Petitioner
now raises ineffective assistance of counsel and the failure
to request a Blair hearing as the bases for habeas
relief. ECF No. 1.
18, 2018, Respondent filed a motion for summary judgment and
a return and memorandum in support thereof. ECF Nos. 21, 22.
Petitioner filed a response in opposition to the motion for
summary judgment on June 1, 2018, ECF No. 25, and he filed a
supplement to his response on August 10, 2018. ECF No. 27.
Respondent did not file a reply.
October 19, 2018, the Magistrate Judge issued a Report and
Recommendation recommending that the court grant the motion
for summary judgment. ECF No. 30. The Magistrate Judge
reviewed the petition pursuant to the rules governing §
2254 cases, 28 U.S.C. § 2254, the Antiterrorism and
Effective Death Penalty Act of 1955, and other legal
precedents, and found on her review of the record that
“the PCR court did not unreasonably apply federal law
in denying” the claims for ineffective assistance of
counsel and for failure to hold a Blair hearing.
Id. at 20, 24. The Magistrate Judge noted
specifically that the record reflects that plea counsel
“met with Petitioner several times to prepare for
trial, observed his demeanor, and reviewed discovery, ”
and “hired an investigator to interview
Petitioner's wife, daughter, and neighbor.” ECF No.
30 at 20. The Magistrate Judge additionally noted the
despite the absence of a court ordered mental evaluation,
[counsel] recognized the unusual circumstances surrounding
the nature of the murder, the fact that Petitioner burned his
mother, and that he consequently decided to obtain- with
Petitioner's signed consent-mental health records from
Patrick B. Harris Psychiatric Hospital and one other medical
facility.  [Counsel] then retained the services of Dr.
Donna Schwartz-Watts to review those records.  Based on a
conversation with Dr. Schwartz-Watts after her review,
[counsel] testified that he had no concerns about
Petitioner's competency to stand trial.
Id. The Magistrate Judge also observed that
“at the PCR hearing, Petitioner's plea counsel
testified that he was unaware that there was ever a
court-ordered evaluation of Petitioner, ” and
“further testified that he did not have Petitioner
evaluated because he ‘did not have any issues as it
relates to [Petitioner's] competency to stand trial or
his ability to assist me in his case.'”
Id. at 24. Pursuant to Diamond v. Colonial Life
& Acc. Ins. Co., 416 F.3d 310 (4th Cir. 2005), the
Magistrate Judge advised Petitioner of his right to file an
objection to the Report and Recommendation. ECF No. 30-1 at
filed an unsigned motion for extension of time to file an
objection to the Report and Recommendation, ECF No. 32, and
thereafter, on November 19, 2018, filed a signed objection.
ECF No. 35. Petitioner does not indicate that the Magistrate
Judge erred in any way with her Report and Recommendation.
Instead, Petitioner appears to contest that he visited
Patrick B. Harris Psychiatric Hospital on any occasion, and
thus that he underwent an examination of any kind at that
Magistrate Judge makes only a recommendation to this court.
The recommendation has no presumptive weight and the
responsibility for making a final determination remains with
the court. Mathews v. Weber, 423 U.S. 261, 270
(1976). The court reviews de novo only those portions of a
Magistrate Judge's Report and Recommendation to which
specific objections are filed and reviews those portions
which are not objected to-including those portions to which
only “general and conclusory” objections have
been made-for clear error. Diamond, 416 F.3d at 315;
Camby v. Davis, 718 F.2d 198, 200 (4th Cir. 1983);
Opriano v. Johnson, 687 F.2d 44, 77 (4th Cir. 1982).
The court may accept, reject, or modify, in whole or in part,
the recommendation of the Magistrate Judge or recommit the
matter with instructions. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1).
fails to direct the court to a specific error in the
Magistrate Judge's Report and Recommendation. His
objections are without merit. Nevertheless, the court has
thoroughly reviewed the record and concurs in the
recommendation of the Magistrate Judge. The Report and
Recommendation is incorporated herein by reference. The
motion for summary judgment, ECF No. 22, is granted.
Petitioner's petition for a writ of habeas corpus is
denied and dismissed, with prejudice. The motion for
extension of time to file a response to the Report and
Recommendation, ECF No. 32, is denied as moot.
certificate of appealability will not issue absent “a
substantial showing of the denial of a constitutional
right.” 28 U.S.C. § 2253(c)(2). A prisoner
satisfies this standard by demonstrating that reasonable
jurists would find that any assessment of the constitutional
claims by the district court is debatable or wrong and that
any dispositive procedural ruling by the district court is
likewise debatable. Miller-El v. Cockrell, 537 U.S.
322, 336-38 (2003); Rose v. Lee, 252 F.3d 676,
683-84 (4th Cir. 2001). The court concludes that Movant has
not made the requisite showing.