United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Florence Division
TIMOTHY M. CAIN, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
is a state prisoner, proceeding pro se, who seeks relief
under 28 U.S.C. § 2254. Petitioner filed this Petition
for writ of habeas corpus on January 3, 2019. (ECF No. 1). On
February 28, 2019, Respondent filed a Motion for Summary
Judgment. (ECF No. 10). Petitioner filed a Response in
Opposition to Respondent's motion (ECF No. 13), and
Respondent replied (ECF No. 15). 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 a magistrate judge for
pretrial handling. Before the court is the magistrate
judge's Report and Recommendation (“Report”),
which recommends that the Respondent's Motion for Summary
Judgment be granted and that the Petition be denied. (ECF No.
16). Petitioner was notified of his right to file objections
to the Report. (ECF No. 16-1). Petitioner timely filed
objections. (ECF No. 18). Respondent responded to those
objections. (ECF No. 21).
recommendations set forth in the Report have no presumptive
weight, and this court remains responsible for making a final
determination in this matter. See Mathews v. Weber,
423 U.S. 261, 270-71 (1976). The court is charged with making
a de novo determination of those portions of the
Report to which a specific objection is made, and the court
may accept, reject, modify, in whole or in part, the
recommendation of the magistrate judge or recommit the matter
with instructions. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1). However, the
court need not conduct a de novo review when a party
makes only “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, 47 (4th Cir. 1982). In the absence of a timely filed,
specific objection, the magistrate judge's conclusions
are reviewed only for clear error. See Diamond v.
Colonial Life & Accident Ins. Co., 416 F.3d 310, 315
(4th Cir. 2005).
Petitioner has filed this Petition pro se, this court is
charged with construing the Petition liberally in order to
allow for the development of a potentially meritorious case.
See Hughes v. Rowe, 449 U.S. 5, 9 (1980) (internal
citations omitted); Gordon v. Leeke, 574 F.2d 1147,
1151 (4th Cir. 1978). However, this does not mean that the
court can ignore the Petitioner's failure to allege facts
that set forth a claim currently cognizable in a federal
district court. See Weller v. Dep't of Soc.
Servs., 901 F.2d 387, 391 (4th Cir. 1990).
magistrate judge set forth a detailed account of the facts in
his Report. (ECF No. 16 at 2 - 3). Briefly, Petitioner went
to trial on October 11, 2010, on the charges of homicide by
child abuse and infliction of great bodily injury upon a
child. (ECF No. 1-1 at 2). Petitioner was represented by
attorneys Doug Brannon and Shawn M. Chappel. Id. The
jury convicted Petitioner of both charges, and Judge Durham
Cole sentenced Petitioner to concurrent sentences of life
imprisonment without the possibility of parole for the charge
of homicide by child abuse and twenty years for infliction of
great bodily harm upon a child. Id.
directly appealed his conviction and sentence to the South
Carolina Court of Appeals. (ECF No. 9-3 at 12 - 17). The
Court of Appeals affirmed Petitioner's convictions, and
the remittitur was issued on July 25, 2014. Id. at
19. Petitioner applied for Post-Conviction Relief
(“PCR”) on December 18, 2014, asserting
ineffective assistance of counsel, specifically stating that
Applicant contends he was denied the right of effective
assistance of counsel [because] . . . Counsel failed to
obtain a psychological exam, given the history of mental
illness, and treatment, and no history of previous violent
acts. After receiving a court order at a Bond Hearing for a
psychological evaluation the applicant received an exam from
Spartanburg Regional Medical Center nurse and put on suicide
watch. Applicant raises questions of Constitutional magnitude
in the areas of due process, equal protection, and cruel and
(ECF No. 9-3 at 27). Judge Paul Burch denied Petitioner's
PCR application on November 2, 2016, after conducting a
hearing. (ECF Nos. 1-1; 9-3 at 102-112). Petitioner appealed
the denial of his PCR application. (ECF No. 9-11). Petitioner
was represented by attorney Wanda H. Carter, who perfected
the appeal by filing a Petition pursuant to Johnson v.
State, 364 S.E.2d 201 (S.C. 1988) asserting the
following issue: “Trial counsel erred in failing to
develop a mental illness defense in the case.” (ECF No.
9-12). Petitioner filed a pro se letter on his behalf in the
appeal. (ECF No. 9-13 at 1-2). On October 10, 2018, the South
Carolina Supreme Court denied the Johnson Petition
for Writ of Certiorari. (ECF No. 9-14). Remittitur was issued
on October 26, 2018. (ECF No. 9-15).
filed the instant habeas petition on January 3, 2019,
alleging that his trial counsel was ineffective for failing
to develop a mental illness defense. (ECF No. 1 at 5). On
February 28, 2019, Respondent filed a Motion for Summary
Judgment. (ECF No. 10). Petitioner responded on March 29,
2019, (ECF No. 13), and Respondent replied on April 5, 2019
(ECF No. 15). The magistrate judge entered her Report on May
6, 2019, recommending the undersigned grant the
Respondent's Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF No. 10) and
deny the Petition (ECF No. 1). (ECF No. 16). Petitioner filed
objections to the Report (ECF No. 18), and Respondent replied
to those objections (ECF No. 21). Accordingly, the matter is
now ripe for review.
Report, the magistrate judge recommends that the undersigned
grant Respondent's Motion for Summary Judgment and deny
the Petition. (ECF No. 16). Specifically, the magistrate
judge concluded that “the PCR court's rejection of
[Petitioner's] claim of ineffective assistance of counsel
did not result ‘in a decision that was contrary to . .
. clearly established Federal law, . . . or resulted in a
decision that was based on an unreasonable determination of
the facts in light of the evidence presented in the State
court proceeding.'” Id. at 16 (citing 28
U.S.C. §§ 2254(d)(1)- (2); Williams v.
Taylor, 529 U.S. 362, 404 - 05 (2000)).
filed objections to the Report. (ECF No. 18). The vast
majority of Petitioner's objections are nonresponsive to
the Report and simply reiterate the claims and facts that
were already considered by the magistrate judge. However, the
court gleans that Petitioner objects to the magistrate
judge's determination that the PCR court did not err in
finding that trial counsel was not ineffective because, in
relation to the bond hearing, trial counsel was “told
to seek help for the Petitioner before revisiting the bond
issue.” (ECF No. 18). Furthermore, Petitioner claims
that “because an ...