Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Smith v. Warden, Lee Correctional Institution

United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Rock Hill Division

February 26, 2019

David I. Smith, Petitioner,
v.
Warden, Lee Correctional Institution, Respondent.

          ORDER AND OPINION

          RICHARD MARK GERGEL UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Before the Court is the Report and Recommendation ("R & R") of the Magistrate Judge (Dkt. No. 35) recommending that the Court grant Respondent's motion for summary judgment on Petitioner's petition for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254 (Dkt. No. 22) and deny Respondent's motion to strike (Dkt. No. 28). For the reasons set forth below, the Court adopts in part and declines to adopt in part the R & R as the Order of the Court, grants Respondent's motion for summary judgment and grants Respondent's motion to strike.

         I. Background

         In 2012, Petitioner was indicted in Charleston County for attempted murder. Petitioner was represented by a Deputy Public Defender. On July 10, 2014, Petitioner plead guilty to assault and battery of a high and aggravated nature and was sentenced to twenty years' incarceration with credit for time served. Eight days later, plea counsel filed a motion to reconsider the sentence. After a hearing on the motion, the court reaffirmed the sentence. In March 2015, Petitioner filed pro se an application for post-conviction relief ("PCR") alleging his plea counsel misadvised him to accept the guilty plea and was ineffective. In August 2016, the PCR court held an evidentiary hearing at which Petitioner was represented by counsel and where he and his plea counsel testified. The PCR court denied and dismissed with prejudice the PCR application. Petitioner appealed and petitioned for a writ of certiorari under Johnson v. State, 364 S.E.2d 201 (S.C. 1988), represented by an Appellate Public Defender. Petitioner also filed pro se a response to the petition. The South Carolina Supreme Court denied the petition and the remittitur was issued and filed in Charleston County Court in May 2018.

         Petitioner now petitions pro se for a writ of federal habeas corpus, raising four grounds for why his state custody is in violation of the United States constitution or federal laws. Respondent moves to dismiss the petition on summary judgment, to which Petitioner responded, Respondents replied, and Petitioner submitted a sur-reply.

         II. Legal Standard

         A. Review of R & R

         The Magistrate Judge makes a recommendation to the Court that has no presumptive weight and the responsibility to make a final determination remains with the Court. See, e.g., Matthews v. Weber, 423 U.S. 261, 270-71 (1976). The Court may "accept, reject, or modify, in whole or in part, the findings or recommendations made by the magistrate judge." 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(C). Where there are specific objections to the R & R, the Court "makes a de novo determination of those portions of the report or specified proposed findings or recommendations to which objection is made." Id. In the absence of objections, the Court reviews the R & R to "only satisfy itself that there is no clear error on the face of the record in order to accept the recommendation." Fed.R.Civ.P. 72 advisory committee's note; see also Camby v. Davis, 718 F.2d 198, 199 (4th Cir. 1983) ("In the absence of objection ... we do not believe that it requires any explanation.").

         B. Motion for Summary Judgment

         Summary judgment is appropriate if a party "shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact" and that the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed. R. Civ. P.

         56(a). In other words, summary judgment should be granted "only when it is clear that there is no dispute concerning either the facts of the controversy or the inferences to be drawn from those facts." Pulliam Inv. Co. v. Cameo Props., 810 F.2d 1282, 1286 (4th Cir. 1987). "In determining whether a genuine issue has been raised, the court must construe all inferences and ambiguities in favor of the nonmoving party." HealthSouth Rehab. Hosp. v. Am. Nat'l Red Cross, 101 F.3d 1005, 1008 (4th Cir. 1996). The movant has the initial burden of demonstrating that there is no genuine issue of material fact. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). Once the movant has made this threshold demonstration, to survive summary judgment the respondent must demonstrate that specific, material facts exist that give rise to a genuine issue. Id. at 324. Under this standard, "[c]onclusory or speculative allegations do not suffice, nor does a 'mere scintilla of evidence"' in support of the non-moving party's case. Thompson v. Potomac Elec. Power Co., 312 F.3d 645, 649 (4th Cir. 2002) (quoting Phillips v. CSX Tramp., Inc., 190 F.3d 285, 287 (4th Cir. 1999)).

         C. Federal Habeas Relief Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254

         A state prisoner who challenges matters "adjudicated on the merits in State court" can obtain relief in federal court if he shows that the state court's decision "was contrary to, or involved an unreasonable application of, clearly established Federal law, as determined by the Supreme Court" or "was based on an unreasonable determination of the facts in light of the evidence presented in the State court proceeding." 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d). When reviewing a state court's application of federal law, "a federal habeas court may not issue the writ simply because that court concludes in its independent judgment that the relevant state-court decision applied clearly established federal law erroneously or incorrectly. Rather, that application must also be unreasonable." Williams v. Taylor, 529 U.S. 362, 410 (2000). The state court's application is unreasonable if it is "objectively unreasonable, not merely wrong." White v. Woodall, 572 U.S. 415, 419 (2014). Meaning, the state court's ruling must be "so lacking in justification that there was an error well understood and comprehended in existing law beyond any possibility for fairminded disagreement." Harrington v. Richter, 562 U.S. 86, 103 (2011).

         The state court's determination is presumed correct and the petitioner bears the burden of rebutting this presumption by clear and convincing evidence. 28 U.S.C. § 2254(e)(1). The state court's decision "must be granted a deference and latitude that are not in operation" when the case is considered on direct review. Harrington, 562 U.S. at 101. This is because habeas corpus in federal court exists only to "guard against extreme malfunctions in the state criminal justice systems." Id. at 102 (citation and internal quotation marks omitted). Accordingly, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. ยง 2254(d), a federal habeas court must (1) determine what arguments or theories supported or could have supported the state court's decision; and then (2) ask whether it is possible that fairminded jurists could disagree that those arguments or theories are ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.