United States District Court, D. South Carolina
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
J. GOSSETT, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Gregory Wright, a self-represented state prisoner, filed a
petition for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
§ 2254. This matter is before the court pursuant to 28
U.S.C. § 636(b) and Local Civil Rule 73.02(B)(2)
(D.S.C.) for a Report and Recommendation on Respondent's
motion for summary judgment. (ECF No. 12.) Pursuant to
Roseboro v. Garrison, 528 F.2d 309 (4th Cir. 1975), the
court advised Petitioner of the summary judgment and
dismissal procedures and the possible consequences if he
failed to respond adequately to Respondent's motion. (ECF
No. 13.) Petitioner filed a response in opposition. (ECF No.
15.) Having carefully considered the parties' submissions
and the record in this case, the court finds that
Respondent's motion should be granted and the Petition
was indicted by a Grand Jury in the Sumter County Court of
General Sessions on July 17, 2008 for possession of a firearm
during the commission of a violent crime, owning animals for
the purpose of fighting, animal fighting, ill treatment of
animals, trafficking in cocaine, possession with intent to
distribute marijuana, and trafficking in crack cocaine
(2008-GS-43-927, -929, -930, -931, -932, -933, -934). (App.
at 533-55, ECF No. 11-2 at 36-58.) The late Cameron B.
Littlejohn, Esquire, represented Petitioner at trial, which
was held on January 12-13, 2009. (App. at 1, ECF No. 11-1 at
3.) Petitioner was convicted on all counts except for
possession with intent to distribute marijuana, for which he
was convicted of the lesser-included offense of simple
possession of marijuana. (App. at 387-88, ECF No. 1-1 at
389-90.) Petitioner was sentenced to twenty-five years'
imprisonment for trafficking in cocaine and trafficking in
crack cocaine; five years' imprisonment for owning
animals for the purpose of fighting, animal fighting, ill
treatment of animals, and possession of a firearm during the
commission of a violent crime; and thirty days'
imprisonment for simple possession of marijuana. (App. at
398-400, ECF No. 11-1 at 400-02.)
appeal, Petitioner was represented by Robert M. Pachak of the
South Carolina Commission on Indigent Defense. (App. at 402,
ECF No. 11-1 at 404.) Appellate counsel filed an
Anders brief in the South Carolina Court of
Appeals, asserting there were no meritorious grounds for
appeal and requesting permission to withdraw from further
representation. (App. at 427-28, ECF No. 11-1 at 429-30.) The
Court of Appeals denied appellate counsel's request and
instructed the parties to file additional briefs.
(Id.) The sole issue raised by Petitioner was
“Did the trial court err in finding there was
sufficient evidence or substantial circumstantial evidence
that Appellant constructively possessed the drugs to support
the trial court's denial of Appellant's motion for a
directed verdict on the drug charges?” (App. at 405,
ECF No. 11-1 at 407.) The Court of Appeals affirmed in a per
curiam opinion. (App. at 427-28, ECF No. 11-1 at 429-30.)
filed a petition for a writ of certiorari in the South
Carolina Supreme Court. The Supreme Court granted the
petition for a writ of certiorari, ordered full briefing, and
held oral argument, but dismissed the petition as
improvidently granted in a memorandum opinion. (Pet., ECF No. 1
at 2; Respt.'s Mem. Supp. Summ. J., ECF No. 11 at 3.)
filed an application for post-conviction relief
(“PCR”) in the Sumter County Court of Common
Pleas. (App. at 429, ECF No. 11-1 at 431.) The PCR court held
a hearing on the application in which Petitioner was
represented by Lance S. Boozer, Esquire. (App. at 444, ECF
No. 11-1 at 446.) The PCR court dismissed the application,
ruling on the following grounds:
Ineffective assistance of counsel for failing to move for
dismissal of charges [sic] during Applicant's preliminary
Ineffective assistance of counsel for failing to object to
the indictment because the weight of drugs [sic] did not
match the indictment.
Ineffective assistance of counsel for failing to move to
sever the charges.
Ineffective assistance of counsel for stipulating to the
authenticity of the letter.
at 520-31, ECF No. 11-2 at 23-34.)
appealed the PCR court's order of dismissal by filing a
petition for a writ of certiorari in the South Carolina
Supreme Court through PCR counsel. (ECF No. 11-6 at 1.) The
sole issue raised in the petition was “Did trial
counsel provide ineffective assistance of counsel when he
stipulated to Petitioner's handwriting contained in a
letter the State introduced at trial?” (Id. at
3.) The Supreme Court denied the petition. (ECF No. 11-8 at
instant Petition for a writ of habeas corpus raises the
Ground One: Did the trial court err in denying the directed
verdict as to whether Petitioner had constructive possession
of the drugs?
Ground Two: Trial counsel was ineffective when he stipulated
to a letter introduced by the State at trial.
Ground Three: Counsel failed to object in a timely manner.
Ground Four: Counsel failed to motion for the charges to be
(Pet., ECF No. 1 at 5-9.)