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Stewart v. Williams

United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Anderson/Greenwood Division

January 29, 2019

Marion Stewart, Petitioner,
v.
Warden Williams, Respondent.

          OPINION & ORDER

          HENRY M. HERLONG, JR. SENIOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         This matter is before the court for review of the Report and Recommendation of United States Magistrate Judge Jacqueline D. Austin, made in accordance with 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1) and Local Civil Rule 73.02 for the District of South Carolina.[1] Marion Stewart (“Stewart”) is a state prisoner seeking habeas corpus relief pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. In her Report and Recommendation, Magistrate Judge Austin recommends granting the Respondent's motion for summary judgment and denying Stewart's petition.

         I. Factual and Procedural Background

         Stewart is currently incarcerated at McCormick Correctional Institution, a South Carolina Department of Corrections (“SCDC”) facility. In January 2010, Stewart was indicted in South Carolina state court for armed robbery. (Ret. & Mem. Attach. 4 (App'x 523-24), ECF No. 11-5.) After a jury trial, Stewart was found guilty of armed robbery on April 13, 2011. (Id. Attach. 4 (App'x 515-21), ECF No. 11-5.) Due to his criminal history, Stewart was sentenced to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole. (Id. Attach. 4 (App'x 522), ECF No. 11-5.)

         Stewart appealed his conviction on the grounds that his confession was not voluntary, he was in custody at the time of the confession, and he should have been informed of his Miranda[2]rights. See State v. Stewart, No. 2012-UP-654, 2012 WL 10864542 (S.C. Ct. App. Dec. 12, 2012) (unpublished). The South Carolina Court of Appeals affirmed Stewart's conviction in an unpublished opinion dated December 12, 2012. Id. The South Carolina Supreme Court denied Stewart's petition for writ of certiorari on June 11, 2014. (Ret. & Mem. Attach. 2 (June 11, 2014 Order), ECF No. 11-2.) Remittitur was issued on June 26, 2014. (Id. Attach. 3 (Remittitur), ECF No. 11-3.)

         On July 10, 2014, Stewart filed an application for post-conviction relief (“PCR”) raising ineffective assistance of counsel, due process, and Fifth Amendment claims. (Id. Attach. 4 (App'x 526-31), ECF No. 11-5.) An evidentiary hearing was held on March 23, 2016. (Id. Attach. 4 (App'x 537-603), ECF No. 11-5.) On May 31, 2016, the PCR court denied Stewart's PCR application and dismissed his application with prejudice. (Id. Attach. 4 (App'x 606-21), ECF No. 11-5.) Stewart filed a petition for writ of certiorari with the South Carolina Supreme Court on December 12, 2016. (Ret. & Mem. Attach. 6 (Pet. Writ Cert.), ECF No. 11-7.) On July 14, 2017, the South Carolina Supreme Court denied Stewart's petition for writ of certiorari. (Id. Attach. 7 (July 14, 2017 Order), ECF No. 11-8.)

         Stewart, proceeding pro se, filed the instant § 2254 petition on April 27, 2018, [3] raising one ground for relief:

Ground One: U.S. Const. Rights to Due Process and Equal Protection were denied petitioner by allowing statements of petitioner taken in violation of his Fifth Amend. right to be used against him at trial.
Supporting Facts: Several law enforcement officers surrounded petitioners residence while two officers conducted a custodial interrogation inside a law enforcement vehicle and by using subterfuge and intimidation coerced statements from him without reading and informing him of his Miranda rights and the trial judge erroneously allowed these statements into evidence prejudicing petitioner by denying him the protections granted by our United States Constitution and depriving him of the possibility of receiving a fair trial.

(§ 2254 Pet. 5, ECF No. 1 (errors in original).)

         On June 22, 2018, Respondent filed a motion for summary judgment. (Mot. Summ. J., ECF No. 12.) After receiving two extensions, Stewart responded in opposition on September 24, 2018. (Resp. Opp'n Mot. Summ. J., ECF No. 22.) Magistrate Judge Austin issued her Report and Recommendation on November 13, 2018, and recommends granting Respondent's motion for summary judgment and denying Stewart's petition because Stewart has not demonstrated that the state court's decision was contrary to, or an unreasonable application of, clearly established federal law. (R&R 19, ECF No. 24.) After receiving two extensions, Stewart filed objections to the Report on January 10, 2019.[4] (Objs., generally, ECF No. 34.) Stewart also filed a motion to amend his petition. (Mot. Am., ECF No. 35.) Respondent filed a response in opposition to the motion to amend on January 28, 2019. (Resp. Opp'n Mot. Am., ECF No. 37.) This matter is now ripe for review.

         II. Discussion of the Law

         A. Summary Judgment Standard

         Summary judgment is appropriate only “if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). In deciding whether a genuine issue of material fact exists, the evidence of the non-moving party is to be believed and all justifiable inferences must be drawn in his favor. 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.

         A litigant “cannot create a genuine issue of material fact through mere speculation or the building of one inference upon another.” Beale v. Hardy, 769 F.2d 213, 214 (4th Cir. 1985). “[W]here the record taken as a whole could not lead a rational trier of fact to find for the non-moving party, disposition by summary judgment is appropriate.” Monahan v. Cty. of Chesterfield, Va., 95 F.3d 1263, 1265 (4th Cir. 1996) (internal quotation marks and citation omitted). “[T]he mere existence of some alleged factual dispute between the parties will not defeat an otherwise properly supported motion for summary judgment; the requirement is that there be no genuine issue of material fact.” Ballenger v. N.C. Agric. Extension Serv., 815 F.2d 1001, 1005 (4th Cir. 1987) (internal quotation marks and citation omitted).

         B. Standard of Review in a ...


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