United States District Court, D. South Carolina
F. Anderson, Jr. Judge
Stevie Lamont Aiken, a/k/a Stevie Aiken
(“Petitioner”), a state prisoner proceeding
pro se and in forma pauperis, filed a
petition seeking habeas corpus relief pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
§ 2254 (“Petition”) on August 28, 2018. (ECF
Nos. 1, 19). Petitioner is currently confined at Lieber
Correctional Institution in Dorchester County, South
Carolina. (ECF No. 34 at 2). On November 6, 2018, Respondent
Warden Scott Lewis (“Respondent”) filed a Motion
for Summary Judgment (“Motion”). (ECF No. 15).
After reviewing the pleadings, the Magistrate Judge assigned
to this action prepared a thorough Report and
Recommendation (“Report”) and recommends that the
Motion (ECF No. 15) be granted and that the Petition (ECF No.
1, 19) 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 March 29, 2019 and Petitioner was advised
of his right to file objections to the Report by April 12,
2019. (ECF No. 34-1). Petitioner's Objections were filed
on April 15, 2019 (ECF No. 36) and the Court accepted his
filing pursuant to Rule 6(d) of the Federal Rules of Civil
Procedure. Accordingly, the Motion is ripe for
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.”).
raises two arguments: 1) at a pre-trial suppression hearing,
Petitioner's attorney rendered ineffective assistance by
failing to put Petitioner on the stand to testify; and 2) the
South Carolina Court of Appeals violated clearly established
federal law by holding the trial court merely committed
harmless error when it prevented Petitioner's trial
counsel from cross-examining a co-defendant witness regarding
the maximum sentence the co-defendant could have received
before cooperating with law enforcement. (ECF No. 34 at
10-11). 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).
Ground 1, Petitioner argues that had he been allowed to
testify at his suppression hearing, he would have testified
that law enforcement officers attempted to coerce him to
confess to murder and that the written statement of admission
that he signed was not actually signed by him. (ECF No. 34 at
15). However, as noted in the Report, Petitioner offers no
evidentiary support for this premise other than his own
testimony, which the PCR court rejected as not credible. (ECF
No. 34 at 15-16). The Report also asserts that in the absence
of any further testimony contradicting the State's
evidence that Petitioner signed the agreement, there was no
basis for the PCR court to conclude that Petitioner's
testimony would have been at all helpful to him in the
suppression hearing, that counsel was deficient for failing
to call him as a witness, or that Petitioner was prejudiced
by that decision. (ECF No. 34 at 16).
Objection, Petitioner merely reasserts the argument made by
his counsel at the suppression hearing that he lacked
sufficient mental capacity to knowingly make the written
statement, arguing that if Petitioner would have been allowed
to testify at the suppression hearing then he would have been
able to offer evidence that he did not make the statement in
question. (ECF No. 34 at 4-5, 36 at 6). However,
Petitioner's Objection fails to “direct the court
to a specific error in the magistrate's proposed findings
and recommendations.” Orpiano, 687 F.2d at 47.
As such, Petitioner's Objection is not specific to the
Report, and the Court may therefore adopt the Report without
an explanation. See ...