United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Anderson/Greenwood Division
Juan Mickell Nimmons, a/k/a Juan M. Nimmons, Petitioner,
Warden Lieber Correctional Institution, Respondent.
F. Anderson, Jr. United States District Judge.
Juan Mickell Nimmons, a/k/a Juan M. Nimmons
(“Petitioner”), a state prisoner proceeding
pro se, filed a petition seeking habeas corpus
relief pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254
(“Petition”) on July 13, 2018. (ECF No. 1).
Petitioner is currently confined at Lieber Correctional
Institution in Dorchester County, South Carolina. (ECF No. 34
at 2). On November 13, 2018, Respondent Warden Lieber
Correctional Institution (“Respondent”) filed a
return and memorandum to the Petition along with a Motion for
Summary Judgment (“Motion”). (ECF Nos. 20, 21).
After reviewing the pleadings, the Magistrate Judge assigned
to this action prepared a thorough Report and
Recommendation (“Report”) (ECF No. 34) and
recommends that the Motion (ECF No. 21) be granted and that
the Petition (ECF No. 1) be denied. (ECF No. 34). The Report
sets forth, in detail, the relevant facts and standards of
law on this matter, and this Court incorporates those facts
and standards without a recitation. (ECF No. 34).
Report was filed on February 19, 2019 and Petitioner was
advised of his right to file objections to the Report by
March 5, 2019. (ECF Nos. 34, 34-1). Petitioner's
Objections were filed on March 6, 2019 (ECF No. 37) and the
Court accepts his filing pursuant to Rule 6(d) of the Federal
Rules of Civil Procedure. Accordingly, the Motion is ripe for
review. The Court also considers Petitioner's two
subsequent motions for immediate release. (ECF Nos. 41, 46).
district court is required to conduct a de novo review only
of the specific portions of the Magistrate Judge's Report
to which objections are made. See 28 U.S.C. §
636(b); Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b); see also Carniewski v. W.Va.
Bd. of Prob. & Parole, 974 F.2d 1330 (4th Cir.
1992). In the absence of specific objections to portions of
the Report, the Court is not required to give an explanation
for adopting the Report. See Camby v. Davis, 718
F.2d 198, 199 (4th Cir. 1983). Thus, the Court must only
review those portions of the Report to which Petitioner has
made specific written objections. Diamond v. Colonial
Life & Acc. Ins. Co., 416 F.3d 310, 316 (4th Cir.
objection is specific if it ‘enables the district judge
to focus attention on those issues- factual and legal-that
are at the heart of the parties' dispute.'”
Dunlap v. TM Trucking of the Carolinas,
LLC, No. 0:15-cv-04009-JMC, 2017 WL 6345402, at *5 n.6
(D.S.C. Dec. 12, 2017) (citing One Parcel of Real Prop.
Known as 2121 E. 30th St., 73 F.3d 1057, 1059 (10th Cir.
1996)). A specific objection to the Magistrate Judge's
Report thus requires more than a reassertion of arguments
from the Complaint or a mere citation to legal authorities.
See Workman v. Perry, No. 6:17-cv-00765-RBH, 2017 WL
4791150, at *1 (D.S.C. Oct. 23, 2017). A specific objection
must “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).
stated, nonspecific objections have the same effect as would
a failure to object.” Staley v. Norton, No.
9:07-0288-PMD, 2007 WL 821181, at *1 (D.S.C. Mar. 2, 2007)
(citing Howard v. Sec'y of Health and Human
Servs., 932 F.2d 505, 509 (6th Cir. 1991)). The Court
reviews portions “not objected to-including those
portions to which only ‘general and conclusory'
objections have been made-for clear error.”
Id. (emphasis added) (citing Diamond, 416
F.3d at 315; Camby, 718 F.2d at 200;
Orpiano, 687 F.2d at 47).
an objection is “nonspecific, unrelated to the
dispositive portions of the Magistrate Judge's Report and
Recommendation, or merely restate[s] . . . claims, ”
the Court need not conduct any further review of that
objection. Field v. McMaster, 663 F.Supp.2d 449, 452
(D.S.C. 2009); see also McNeil v. S.C. Dept. of
Corrections, No. 5:12-2880-MGL, 2013 WL 1102881, at *1
(D.S.C. Mar. 15, 2013) (finding petitioner's objections
to be without merit where the objections were
“non-specific, unrelated to the dispositive portions of
the Magistrate Judge's Report, and consist[ed] of a
reassertion of the arguments” made in the petition);
Arbogast v. Spartanburg Cty., No.
07:11-cv-00198-GRA, 2011 WL 5827635, at *2 (D.S.C. Nov. 17,
2011) (finding that plaintiff's objections were not
specific where the objections were “general and
conclusory in that they merely reassert[ed] that his
conviction was wrongful.”).
habeas corpus petition, Petitioner raises the following
grounds for relief: 1) the PCR Court erred in denying
Petitioner's fourth PCR application because Petitioner
met the five-factor test to support the grant of a new trial
based on after-discovered evidence of a post-trial confession
by another person; and 2) Petitioner's PCR counsel was
ineffective for failing to request funds for, and failing to
order, DNA tests to be performed on a bloody shirt. (ECF No.
34 at 6). The Magistrate Judge concludes that both of
Petitioner's arguments are unavailing and recommends this
Court grant Respondent's Motion. (ECF No. 34 at 18).
after filing his Objections, Petitioner filed two motions for
immediate release that are substantially the same. (ECF Nos.
41, 46). The Court reviews the those motions herein following
its analysis of Respondent's Motion.
Ground 1, Petitioner seeks federal habeas corpus relief due
to the PCR court's alleged error in denying
Petitioner's fourth PCR application under the five-factor
test to support grant of a new trial based on
after-discovered evidence, but the Magistrate Judge
recommends granting summary judgment on that ground for two
reasons. (ECF No. 34 at 16-17). First, as argued in
Respondent's Motion, this ground is not cognizable on
federal habeas corpus review because it relies on the
application of state court law, which this Court cannot
review. (ECF No. 34 at 16) (quoting Pulley v.
Harris, 465 U.S. 37, 41 (1984) (“A federal court
may not issue the writ on the basis of a perceived error of
state law . . . .”). Secondly, to the extent Petitioner
attempts to assert a freestanding claim of actual innocence,
such claim is not a cognizable ground for federal habeas
relief. (ECF No. 34 at 17-18) (citing Smith v.
Warden, No. 4:16-4008-TLW-TER, 2017 WL 6016575, at *13
(D.S.C. Oct. 12, 2017), Report ...