United States District Court, D. South Carolina
OPINION AND ORDER
Howe Hendricks, United States District Judge
James Edward Johnson, Jr. (“Petitioner”),
proceeding pro se, filed this habeas relief action
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. (ECF No. 1.) The petition
was later amended. (ECF No. 24.) In accordance with 28 U.S.C.
§ 636(b)(1)(B) and Local Civil Rule 73.02(B)(2)(c),
D.S.C., this matter was referred to United States Magistrate
Judge Paige J. Gossett, for pre-trial proceedings and a
Report and Recommendation (“Report”).
23, 2018, Respondent Charles Williams, Warden
(“Respondent”), filed a motion for summary
judgment, along with a return and memorandum. (ECF Nos. 33
& 34.) Since Petitioner is pro se in this
matter, the Court entered an order pursuant to Roseboro
v. Garrison, 528 F.2d 309 (4th Cir. 1975), on July 24,
2018, advising Petitioner of the importance of a dispositive
motion and of the need for him to file an adequate response
to Respondent's motion. (ECF No. 36.) In that order,
Petitioner was advised of the possible consequence of
dismissal if he failed to respond adequately. Petitioner
filed a response in opposition to the motion for summary
judgment (ECF No. 38). Magistrate Judge Gossett considered
the parties' submissions and the record in this case, and
on October 15, 2018, issued a Report recommending that
Respondent's motion for summary judgment (ECF No. 34) be
granted, and the Amended Petition be denied. (See
ECF No. 41.) The Magistrate Judge advised Petitioner of his
right to file specific objections to the Report.
(Id. at 14.) On November 5, 2018, the deadline for
objections having expired, and the Court having received no
objections to the Report, the Court entered an Opinion and
Order adopting the Report, granting the motion for summary
judgment, denying the Amended Petition, and denying a
certificate of appealability. (ECF No. 45.)
the Court subsequently received Petitioner's objections
on November 8, 2018. (ECF No. 48.) Petitioner later filed
what was construed as a motion for reconsideration of the
order of dismissal, making a colorable argument that his
objections were timely filed under the “mailbox
rule” but not received before the Court adopted the
Report due to mail room delays over which Petitioner had no
control. (ECF No. 49.) In a responsive filing, Respondent
indicated that he did not oppose the vacation of the November
5, 2018 order of dismissal in order that the Court have an
opportunity to consider Petitioner's objections prior to
ruling in this matter. (ECF No. 51.) Accordingly, on December
11, 2018, the Court granted the motion for reconsideration as
unopposed, vacated the order of dismissal, and reopened the
case. (ECF No. 52.)
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 the
Court. See Mathews v. Weber, 423 U.S. 261 (1976).
The Court is charged with making a de novo
determination of any portion of the Report and Recommendation
of the Magistrate Judge to which a specific objection is
made. The Court may accept, reject, or modify, in whole or in
part, the recommendation made by the Magistrate Judge or
recommit the matter to the Magistrate Judge with
instructions. See 28 U.S.C. § 636(b). The Court
reviews the Report and Recommendation only for clear error in
the absence of an objection. See Diamond v. Colonial Life
& Accident 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 a 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”) (citation omitted).
document that Petitioner filed as objections to the Report,
is composed almost entirely of cut and pasted portions of his
response in opposition to the motion for summary judgment.
(Compare ECF No. 48 at 3-9, with ECF No. 38
at 7-12.) Those arguments were previously made to and
considered by the Magistrate Judge. Petitioner does not point
to any specific error in the Magistrate Judge's reasoning
or findings. In fact, other than the cover page attached to
the objections, Petitioner does not mention the Report at
all. (See ECF No. 48.) “Generally stated,
nonspecific objections have the same effect as would a
failure to object.” Staley v. Norton, C/A No.
9:07-cv-0288-PMD, 2007 WL 821181, at *1 (D.S.C. Mar. 2,
2007). De novo review of the Magistrate Judge's
Report is unnecessary “when a party makes general and
conclusory objections that do not direct the court to a
specific error in the Magistrate's proposed findings and
recommendations.” Orpiano v. Johnson, 687 F.2d
44, 48 (4th Cir. 1982).
thorough review of the record of this matter, the applicable
law, and the Report of the Magistrate Judge, the Court finds
no error. Accordingly, the Court adopts and incorporates the
Report and Recommendation (ECF No. 41) by reference into this
order. It is therefore ORDERED that Respondent's motion
for summary judgment (ECF No. 34) is GRANTED, the Amended
Petition is DENIED.
governing law provides that:
(c)(2) A certificate of appealability may issue . . . only if
the applicant has made a substantial showing of the denial of
a constitutional right.
(c)(3) The certificate of appealability. . . shall indicate
which specific issue or issues satisfy the showing required
by paragraph (2).
28 U.S.C. § 2253(c). A prisoner satisfies this standard
by demonstrating that reasonable jurists would find this
Court's assessment of his constitutional claims to be
debatable or wrong and that any dispositive procedural ruling
by this Court is likewise debatable. See Miller-El v.
Cockrell, 537 U.S. 322, 336 (2003); Slack v.
McDaniel, 529 U.S. 473, 484 (2000); Rose v.
Lee, 252 F.3d 676, 683 (4th Cir. 2001). In this case,
the legal standard for the ...