United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Anderson/Greenwood Division
Julio A. Hunsberger, #959417, Plaintiff,
Randy Bobby Duran, Marvin English, Roger Lowe, Rick Hubbard, Alton Eargle, Ervin Maye, Frank Young, Donald Myers, Alan Wilson, John McIntosh, Donald Zelenka, and Melody Jane Brown, Defendants.
Timothy M. Cain United States District Judge.
Julio A. Hunsberger, a state prisoner proceeding pro
se, filed this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983,
seeking an award of money damages against each Defendant for
the denial of his Sixth Amendment right to a speedy trial.
(ECF No. 1 at 5, 10). Defendants Rick Hubbard, Alton Eargle,
Ervin Maye, Frank Young, Donald Myers, Alan Wilson, John
McIntosh, Donald Zelenka and Melody Jane Brown (the
“Prosecutor Defendants”) filed a motion for
judgment on the pleadings (ECF No. 24), and Defendants Randy
Bobby Duran, Marvin English and Roger Lowe (the
“Sheriff's Department Defendants”) filed a
motion for summary judgment (ECF No. 54). Plaintiff filed a
response opposing both motions. (ECF Nos. 57, 68). In
accordance with 28 U.S.C. § 636(b) and Local Civil Rule
73.02 (B)(2)(c), D.S.C., this matter was referred to a
magistrate judge for pretrial handling. The magistrate judge
issued a Report and Recommendation (“Report”)
recommending that both motions be granted. (ECF No. 70 at
13). Plaintiff timely filed objections to the Report. (ECF
Report has no presumptive weight and the responsibility to
make a final determination in this matter remains with this
court. See Mathews v. Weber, 423 U.S. 261, 270-71
(1976). In the absence of objections, this court is not
required to provide an explanation for adopting the Report.
See Camby v. Davis, 718 F.2d 198, 199 (4th Cir.
1983). Where there is no “timely filed objection, a
district court need not conduct a de novo review, but instead
must only satisfy itself that there is no clear error on the
face of the record in order to accept the
recommendation.” Diamond v. Colonial Life &
Acc. Ins. Co., 416 F.3d 310, 315 (4th Cir. 2005)
(quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 72 advisory committee's note).
Furthermore, failure to file specific written objections to
the Report results in a party's waiver of the right to
appeal the district court's judgment based upon that
recommendation. See 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1);
Thomas v. Arn, 474 U.S. 140 (1985); Wright v.
Collins, 766 F.2d 841 (4th Cir. 1985); United States
v. Schronce, 727 F.2d 91 (4th Cir. 1984).
is currently incarcerated in Smith State Prison in
Glennville, Georgia. (ECF No. 1 at 1). In 2002, Plaintiff was
arrested for the murder of Samuel Sturrup in South Carolina.
Id. at 5. He was also charged in connection with the
kidnapping, which occurred in Georgia, leading up to the
murder. (ECF No. 24-1 at 1-2). In February 2005, Plaintiff
was released to Georgia to be tried first on the kidnapping
charges, for which he was convicted and sentenced to life
imprisonment. Id. at 2.
September 2011, Plaintiff was returned to South Carolina to
stand trial on the murder charge. Id. at 3. The case
was ultimately tried in January 2012, when Plaintiff was
convicted for murdering Sturrup. (ECF No. 1 at 5). Between
Plaintiff's arrest for murder in 2002 and his trial in
2012, Plaintiff's counsel filed two speedy trial motions,
both of which were denied by the trial court. Id.
appealed his conviction to the South Carolina Court of
Appeals, arguing in part that his constitutional right to a
speedy trial was abridged by the ten-year delay between his
arrest and his trial. State v. Hunsberger, No.
2012-206608, 2014 WL 5772563, at *3 (S.C. Ct. App. Nov. 5,
2014). The Court of Appeals rejected Plaintiff's speedy
trial argument and affirmed his conviction. Id. at
*5. The South Carolina Supreme Court, however, granted
certiorari on the speedy trial issue and reversed
Plaintiff's conviction in a 3-2 decision. State v.
Hunsberger, 794 S.E.2d 368, 377 (S.C. 2016).
Subsequently, the State unsuccessfully sought certiorari
review in the United States Supreme Court. South Carolina
v. Hunsberger, 137 S.Ct. 2295 (2017).
2, 2018, Plaintiff filed this action pursuant to § 1983
alleging that Defendants violated his Sixth Amendment right
to a speedy trial and seeking money damages. (ECF No. 1 at
5-6, 10). As to the Sheriff's Department Defendants,
Plaintiff alleges that they investigated him for
Sturrup's murder and then testified for the State at
trial and, therefore, “contributed to the prosecution
and subsequent conviction of Plaintiff for crimes he did not
commit.” Id. at 2, 5. As to the Prosecutor
Defendants, Plaintiff alleges that each of them
“contributed to the prosecution and subsequent
conviction of Plaintiff for crimes he did not commit”
or “contributed to the prolongment of the
Plaintiff's imprisonment for a void conviction.”
Id. at 2-4. Specifically, Plaintiff identifies the
constitutionally offensive conduct to be as follows: that
Defendants Hubbard, Maye, and Young, in their capacity as
assistant solicitors, opposed Plaintiff's speedy trial
motions prior to trial, id. 5-6; and that Defendant
Wilson, in his capacity as South Carolina Attorney General;
Defendant Myers, in his capacity as Solicitor; and Defendants
McIntosh, Zelenka, and Brown, in their capacities as
assistant attorneys general, opposed Plaintiff's speedy
trial argument during appeal in state court and sought
certiorari review in the United States Supreme Court.
Id. at 6.
Prosecutor Defendants filed a motion for judgment on the
pleadings (ECF No. 24), arguing that the are entitled to
absolute, prosecutorial immunity as all the allegations
against them stem from actions within the scope of their
official duties (ECF No. 24-1 at 6-11), that they are
entitled to immunity under the Eleventh Amendment to the
extent they are being sued in their official capacities,
id. at 11, that they are not “persons”
subject to suit under § 1983, id. at 11-12, and
that, alternatively, they are entitled to qualified immunity
in this case, id. at 12-16. Plaintiff filed a
response in opposition to the motion for judgment on the
pleadings (ECF No. 57), and the Prosecutor Defendants filed a
reply (ECF No. 65).
Sheriff's Department Defendants filed a motion for
summary judgment (ECF No. 54), arguing that Plaintiff's
claims against them are barred by the statute of limitations
(ECF No. 54-1 at 3), and that, to the extent Plaintiff's
claims are asserted against them in their individual
capacities, they are not proper parties under S.C. Code Ann.
§ 15-78-70, id. at 3-4. Plaintiff filed a
response in opposition to the motion for summary judgment.
(ECF No. 68).
February 22, 2019, the magistrate judge issued the Report
recommending that both the motion for judgment on the
pleadings and the summary judgment motion be granted. (ECF
No. 70 at 13). The magistrate judge concluded that all
Defendants are entitled to immunity under the Eleventh
Amendment “as to any claims for money damages asserted
against them in their official capacities.”
Id. at 11. The magistrate judge further concluded
that the Prosecutor Defendants are entitled to absolute
immunity because “all of the conduct on which Plaintiff
bases his claims . . . were actions these Defendants took in
prosecuting a criminal case against Plaintiff.”
Id. at 12. Additionally, the magistrate judge
concluded that Plaintiff failed to state a Sixth Amendment
claim against the Sheriff's Department Defendants because
“Plaintiff neither alleges nor points to any evidence
indicating that the Sheriff's Department Defendants
played any role in denying him a speedy trial.”
Id. at 13.
the magistrate judge concluded that neither of the
dispositive motions was premature on the basis that the
parties had not conducted discovery. Id. at 10 n.6.
The magistrate judge determined that none of the issues for
which Plaintiff sought discovery-whether the actions of the
Sheriff's Department Defendants directly contributed to
the prosecution and conviction of Plaintiff for crimes he did
not commit; whether the actions of all Defendants directly
contributed to the “prolongment of
Plaintiff's conviction for a void conviction”; and
whether the statute of limitations for Plaintiff's claims
began running upon the denial of certiorari by the United
States Supreme Court-are material to Defendants'
entitlement to judgment. Id. (emphasis added).
filed objections to the Report (ECF No. 72). The Prosecutor
Defendants submitted a reply to ...