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Frost v. Beatty

United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Anderson/Greenwood Division

August 5, 2019

David Frost, Petitioner,
Chief Beatty, Director of Charleston County Detention Center, Respondent.



         David Frost (“Petitioner”), proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis, brings this habeas corpus action purportedly under 28 U.S.C. § 2254.[1] Petitioner is a pretrial detainee and is currently incarcerated at the Charleston County Detention Center. Pursuant to the provisions of 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B) and Local Civil Rule 73.02(B)(2)(c), D.S.C., the undersigned Magistrate Judge is authorized to review such petitions for relief and submit findings and recommendations to the District Judge. For the reasons that follow, the Petition is subject to summary dismissal.


         Petitioner commenced the instant federal habeas action to challenge his incarceration at the Charleston County Detention Center by filing a single-page, handwritten memorandum, which was construed as a habeas petition pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254, along with a letter in support of his petition. [Docs. 1; 1-1.] By Order dated July 22, 2019, Petitioner was instructed to file with the Court a habeas petition on the standard court form. [Doc. 5.] Thereafter, Petitioner filed the proper court form [Docs. 1-4; 1-7], along with additional attachments [Doc. 1-5], which were attached to his original filing. The Court construes the original filing along with the filing on the standard court form [Docs. 1; 1-4; 1-7] together as the Petition in this habeas action, and the Court has carefully reviewed each of the documents [Docs. 1-1; 1-5] submitted by Petitioner in support of his Petition. Further, the Court takes judicial notice of the records in Petitioner's pending state criminal case. See Philips v. Pitt Cty. Mem. Hosp., 572 F.3d 176, 180 (4th Cir. 2009) (explaining courts “may properly take judicial notice of matters of public record”); Colonial Penn Ins. Co. v. Coil, 887 F.2d 1236, 1239 (4th Cir. 1989) (“We note that ‘the most frequent use of judicial notice is in noticing the content of court records.'”).

         As noted, Petitioner purports to bring this action under 28 U.S.C. § 2254. [Doc. 1.] He makes the following allegations. Petitioner contends that he was served with an arrest warrant (warrant No. 2018A1020900205) for shoplifting on January 14, 2019. [Docs. 1-1 at 1; 1-4 at 2.] Petitioner contends that the warrant was dated October 20, 2018, and stated that the crime was committed on October 20, 2018. [Docs. 1-1 at 1; 1-4 at 2.] However, Petitioner contends, the alleged crime actually happened on October 28, 2018, eight days after the warrant was issued. [Docs. 1-1 at 1; 1-4 at 2.] According to Petitioner, an affidavit in support of the warrant (affidavit No. 2018-0009777) stated that the alleged crime happened on October 28, 2018. [Docs. 1-1 at 1; 1-4 at 2.]

         Accordingly, Petitioner contends that, based on this information, he was falsely arrested. [Doc. 1-4 at 5.] Petitioner also contends that he has been incarcerated for more than six months without any results and that he has not been to court yet. [Docs. 1-1 at 1; 1-4 at 2.] For his relief, Petitioner seeks immediate dismissal of the charges and monetary compensation in the amount of $250, 000 for pain and suffering. [Docs. 1-1 at 1; 1-7 at 8.]

         Petitioner has attached to his Petition a copy of the affidavit for arrest warrant, an incident report, and the arrest warrant. [Docs. 1-2; 1-5.] The affidavit for arrest warrant is dated November 14, 2018, and states, in relevant part, as follows:

[Petitioner] did within the town of Mount Pleasant, County of Charleston, State of South Caorlina, on or about the dates of October 20th 2018, violate the criminal laws of the State of South Carolina, namely, Shoplifting >$2000 at [a Lowe's store] in violation of Section, 16-13-110 of the South Carolina Code of Laws . . . .
On October 28, 2018 [Petitioner] did enter the Lowe's store . . . and was caught on video surveillance taking eight Dyson vacuum cleaners and throwing them over a security fence to a car that was waiting. The vacuums were loaded into the vehicle and the driver drove off while [Petitioner] exited the store. . . .

[Doc. 1-5 at 2 (emphasis in original).] The affidavit was signed by the affiant and the magistrate judge and dated November 14, 2018. [Id.] The arrest warrant was also signed by the affiant and the magistrate judge and dated November 14, 2018. [Id. at 1.] Like the affidavit, the arrest warrant states that probable cause existed to support the charge that Petitioner committed the crime of shoplifting on October 20, 2018. [Id.] Finally, according to the incident report, dated October 30, 2018, an officer was dispatched to the Lowe's store on October 30, 2018, where the store's Loss Prevention Manager stated that two men entered the store on October 28, 2018, and took eight Dyson vacuum cleaners. [Doc. 1-2 at 2.] Petitioner appears to argue that, because the affidavit and arrest warrant contain conflicting dates concerning when the alleged shoplifting occurred, using both the dates of October 20, 2018, and October 28, 2018, the warrant is defective and he was therefore falsely arrested.


         Under established local procedure in this judicial district, a careful review has been made of the pro se petition filed in the above-captioned case. The review was conducted pursuant to the procedural provisions of 28 U.S.C. § 1915, the Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act (“AEDPA”) of 1996, Pub. L. 104-132, 110 Stat. 1214, and in light of the following precedents: Denton v. Hernandez, 504 U.S. 25 (1992); Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 324-25 (1989); Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519 (1972); Nasim v. Warden, Md. House of Corr., 64 F.3d 951 (4th Cir. 1995); Todd v. Baskerville, 712 F.2d 70 (4th Cir. 1983). Further, this Court is charged with screening Petitioner's lawsuit to determine if “it plainly appears from the petition and any attached exhibits that the petitioner is not entitled to relief in the district court.” Rule 4, Rules Governing Section 2254 Cases in the U.S. District Courts (2012). Pursuant to this rule, a district court is “authorized to dismiss summarily any habeas petition that appears legally insufficient on its face.” McFarland v. Scott, 512 U.S. 849, 856 (1994).

         Further, Petitioner filed this action pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915, the in forma pauperis statute. This statute authorizes the district court to dismiss a case if it is satisfied that the action “fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted, ” is “frivolous or malicious, ” or “seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such relief.” 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B). Petitioner appears to be a prisoner under the definition in 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(c), and “seeks redress from a governmental entity or officer or employee of a governmental entity.” 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). Thus, even if Petitioner had prepaid the full filing fee, this Court would still be charged with screening his lawsuit to identify cognizable claims or to dismiss the Petition if (1) it is frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted or (2) seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A.

         Because Petitioner is a pro se litigant, his pleadings are accorded liberal construction and held to a less stringent standard than formal pleadings drafted by attorneys. See Erickson v. Pardus,551 U.S. 89, 93-94 (2007) (per curiam). However, even under this less stringent standard, the Petition is subject to summary dismissal. The requirement of liberal construction does not mean that the court can ignore a clear failure in the pleading to allege facts which set ...

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