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Jones v. Williams

United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Aiken Division

May 28, 2019

Damon Jaques Jones, Petitioner,
Warden Charles Williams, Respondent.

          OPINION & ORDER


         This matter is before the court for review of the Report and Recommendation of United States Magistrate Judge Shiva V. Hodges, made in accordance with 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1) and Local Civil Rule 73.02 for the District of South Carolina.[1] Damon Jaques Jones (“Jones”) is a state prisoner, proceeding pro se, seeking habeas corpus relief pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. In her Report and Recommendation, Magistrate Judge Hodges recommends granting Respondent's motion for summary judgment and dismissing Jones' petition with prejudice.

         I. Factual and Procedural Background

          Jones is currently incarcerated at McCormick Correctional Institution in the South Carolina Department of Corrections. On August 25, 2005, Jones was indicted in South Carolina state court for murder. (Ret. & Mem. Attach. 1 (App'x 328-29), ECF No. 21-1.) After a jury trial, Jones was found guilty of murder and sentenced to life imprisonment on December 1, 2005. (Id. Attach. 1 (App'x 311-14, 325-26), ECF No. 21-1.) Jones appealed his conviction and raised two claims for relief regarding the state trial court's refusal to admit Jones' videotaped interrogation into evidence. (Id. Attach. 1 (App'x 333), ECF No. 21-1.) The South Carolina Court of Appeals affirmed Jones' conviction on July 23, 2008. (Id. Attach. 1 (App'x 392-94), ECF No. 21-1.) Jones filed a petition for rehearing on August 7, 2008, which was denied on September 23, 2008. (Id. Attach. 1 (App'x 395-401), ECF No. 21-1.)

         On December 15, 2010, Jones filed an application for post-conviction relief (“PCR”), alleging ineffective assistance of trial counsel, prosecutorial misconduct, juror misconduct, due process, and abuse of discretion claims. (Ret. & Mem. Attach. 1 (App'x 462-92), ECF No. 21-2.) An evidentiary hearing was held from June 25, 2013 through June 26, 2013. (Id. Attach. 1 (App'x 500-650), ECF No. 21-2.) On March 4, 2014, the PCR court dismissed Jones' PCR application with prejudice. (Id. Attach. 1 (App'x 724-42), ECF No. 21-3.) Jones filed a motion to reconsider pursuant to Rule 59(e) of the South Carolina Rules of Civil Procedure. (Id. Attach. 1 (App'x 743-44), ECF No. 21-3.) After a hearing, the PCR court denied the Rule 59(e) motion on June 2, 2014. (Id. Attach. 1 (App'x 777), ECF No. 21-3.)

         On November 13, 2014, Jones filed a petition for writ of certiorari in the South Carolina Supreme Court, raising one ground for relief: “Whether petitioner's case should be remanded for a full hearing on his claim that Juror #86 committed juror misconduct when she failed to reveal during voir dire that she was a victim of a violent crime, which would have led to counsel striking her from the jury?” (Ret. & Mem. Attach. 1 (App'x 778-87), ECF No. 21-3.) On September 3, 2015, the South Carolina Supreme Court remanded the case for a hearing on the claim of juror misconduct. (Id. Attach. 1 (App'x 798-99), ECF No. 21-3.) After a hearing held on November 9, 2016, the PCR court denied relief on December 15, 2016. (Id. Attach. 1 (App'x 800, 828-31), ECF No. 21-3.) Jones filed a petition for writ of certiorari on August 18, 2017, asserting one claim for relief regarding the juror misconduct claim. (Id. Attach. 5 (Pet. Cert.), ECF No. 21-7.) The South Carolina Supreme Court denied certiorari on April 19, 2018. (Id. Attach. 7 (Apr. 19, 2018 Order), ECF No. 21-9.) Jones filed a second PCR application on September 17, 2018, raising many of the same grounds for relief as he raised in his first PCR application. (Ret. & Mem. Attach. 9 (Second PCR App.), ECF No. 21-11.) The second PCR application was dismissed as successive and time-barred on March 7, 2019. Jones v. State, C.A. No. 2018-CP-42-03217 (Mar. 7, 2019 Order).[2]

         Jones filed the instant § 2254 petition on September 21, 2018, [3] alleging five grounds for relief:

Ground One: S.C. appellate courts were in error for failing to find the video tapes at petitioner's trial would not have benefitted him.
Ground Two: Prosecutor Misconduct and gross [ineffective assistance of counsel] occurred when they both worked in concert to withhold an abundance of exculpatory evidence from petitioner depriving him of constitutional rights to a fair trial.
Ground Three: Egegious [sic] Prosecutorial Misconduct and Gross [ineffective assistance of counsel] was committed when the prosecutor was allowed to enter and argue a fabricated scene photo of the drivers [sic] side door of the car where a hand size blood smear was digitally edited off the drivers [sic] side door.
Ground Four: The Prosecutor committed misconduct and defense counsel was again grossly ineffective when he allowed the state to fasily [sic] argue fabricated, distance, location, and 45 degree angle shot.
Ground Five: Defense counsel and the prosecutor aided state witness Atiba Long in making second written statement which is falsified evidence.

(§ 2254 Pet., generally, ECF No. 1.)[4] On January 14, 2019, Respondent filed a motion for summary judgment. (Mot. Summ. J., ECF No. 22.) Jones filed his response in opposition on February 6, 2019.[5] (Resp. Opp'n Mot. Summ. J., ECF No. 25.) Respondent did not file a reply.

         On May 2, 2019, Magistrate Judge Hodges issued a Report and Recommendation recommending that the court grant Respondent's motion for summary judgment and deny Jones' petition because all of Jones' grounds for relief are procedurally defaulted and he has not demonstrated cause and prejudice or actual innocence to excuse the default. (R&R 26, 32, ECF No. 29.) Jones filed objections ...

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