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Ham v. Williams

United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Greenville Division

August 22, 2019

Angelo Ham, Petitioner,
v.
Warden Williams, Respondent.

          ORDER AND OPINION

         Petitioner Angelo Ham, proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis, filed for Writ of Habeas Corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254 (“Habeas Petition”). (ECF No. 1.) The matter before the court is a review of the Report and Recommendation (“Report”) issued by the Magistrate Judge on July 23, 2019. (ECF No. 39.) For the following reasons, the court ADOPTS the Magistrate Judge's Report (ECF No. 39), GRANTS Respondent's Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF No. 34), and DISMISSES the Habeas Petition (ECF No. 1) with prejudice.

         I. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         Petitioner is incarcerated at the McCormick Correctional Institution serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole for murder and a concurrent sentence of twenty-five years for armed robbery. (ECF No. 39 at 2.) Petitioner filed a Habeas Petition on February 1, 2018, that asserts “ineffective assistance of counsel, violations due to illegal indictments, and illegal waiver from juvenile to adult [court].” (ECF No. 1 at 3.) On December 21, 2018, Respondent filed a Motion for Summary Judgment based on the Pleadings. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(b). Thereafter, the Magistrate Judge issued his Report recommending that the court grant Respondent's motion and dismiss Petitioner's Habeas Petition. (ECF No. 39 at 31.)

         II. LEGAL STANDARD

         The Magistrate Judge's Report is made in accordance with 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1) and Local Civil Rule 73.02 for the District of South Carolina. The Magistrate Judge only makes a recommendation to this court, and the recommendation has no presumptive weight. See Mathews v. Weber, 423 U.S. 261, 270-71 (1976). The responsibility to make a final determination remains with the court. Id. at 271. As such, the court is charged with making de novo determinations of those portions of the Report to which specific objections are made. See 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1); See also Fed. R. Civ. P. 72(b)(3). In the absence of specific objections to the Magistrate Judge's Report, the court is not required to give any explanation for adopting the Report. See Camby v. Davis, 718 F.2d 198, 199 (4th Cir. 1983). Rather, “in the absence of a 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). Thus, the court may accept, reject, or modify, in whole or in part, the Magistrate Judge's recommendation or recommit the matter with instructions. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1).

         The court is required to interpret pro se documents liberally and will hold those documents to a less stringent standard than those drafted by attorneys. See Gordon v. Leeke, 574 F.2d 1147, 1151 (4th Cir. 1978). See also Hardin v. United States, C/A No. 7:12-cv-0118-GRA, 2012 WL 3945314, at *1 (D.S.C. Sept. 10, 2012). Additionally, pro se documents must be construed in a favorable manner, “no matter how inartfully pleaded, to see whether they could provide a basis for relief.” Garrett v. Elko, No. 95-7939, 1997 WL 457667, at *1 (4th Cir. Aug. 12, 1997). Although pro se documents are liberally construed by federal courts, “[t]he ‘special judicial solicitude' with which a district court should view pro se complaints does not transform the court into an advocate.” Weller v. Dep't of Soc. Servs. for Balt., 901 F.2d 387, 391 (4th Cir. 1990).

         III. ANALYSIS

         A. First Objection

         The Report recommends granting Respondent's Motion for Summary Judgment because Petitioner has failed to meet the first and second prongs of Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668 (1984). In Strickland, the Court determined that, to be entitled to relief for ineffective assistance of counsel, a petitioner must show: (1) a trial counsel's performance fell below an objective standard of reasonableness, and (2) a reasonable probability exists that, but-for counsel's error, the outcome of the proceeding would have been different. Id. at 687-97.

         Petitioner objects to “Ground 1.1.a: Ineffective Assistance of Counsel” of the Report, arguing that:

[Petitioner] raised and argued that ‘his juvenile counsel was ineffective for failing to advise him of his right to appeal or discuss . . . rights to appeal the waiver order . . . [Petitioner] also relied and quoted a state precedent where a juvenile appealed the waiver order because that juvenile was erroneously waived to the court of General Sessions for a crime that couldn't be waived to that court.

(ECF No. 41 at 2.)

         While Petitioner's objection cites a specific portion of the Report, he merely rehashes his previous assertions. (Compare ECF No. 41 at 2, with ECF No. 1 at 5.) The record shows that the Post-Conviction Relief court's rejection of the ineffective assistance of claim was not “contrary to, or . . . an unreasonable application of, clearly established Federal law, as determined by the Supreme Court of the United States; or . . . a decision that was based on an unreasonable determination of the facts in light of the evidence presented in the state court proceeding.” 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d). As such, Petitioner's first objection is without merit.

         B. Sec ...


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