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Spoone v. Williams

United States District Court, D. South Carolina

September 17, 2019

James William Spoone, Petitioner,
v.
Warden Charles Williams, Respondent.

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          BRISTOW MARCHANT UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         Petitioner, James William Spoone, a state prisoner at the McCormick Correctional Institution, part of the South Carolina Department of Corrections, filed this Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus pro se and in forma pauperis. pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. In this Petition, Petitioner challenges his 2005 criminal sentences for murder, first degree burglary, and possession of a weapon during a violent crime. Petition, ECF No. 1 at 1.

         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 pursuant to the procedural provisions of the Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 (AEDPA), 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.Kemer, 404 U.S. 519(1972); Nasim v. Warden, Md. House of Com, 64 F.3d 951 (4th Cir. 1995); and Todd v. Baskerville, 712 F.2d 70 (4th Cir. 1983). Pro se petitions are also held to a less stringent standard than those drafted by attorneys, and a federal district court is charged with liberally construing a petition filed by a pro se litigant to allow for the development of a potentially meritorious case. See Hughes v. Rowe, 449 U.S. 5, 9 (1980) (quoting Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972)); Gordon v. Leeke, 574 F.2d 1147, 1151 (4th Cir. 1978) (citing Rice v. Olson, 324 U.S. 786, 791-92 (1945); Holiday v. Johnston, 313 U.S. 342, 350(1941)).

         Nonetheless, 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 of the Rules Governing Section 2254 Cases in the United States District Courts. The requirement of liberal construction does not mean that the court can ignore a clear failure in the pleading to allege facts which set forth a claim currently cognizable in a federal district court. See Weller v. Dep't of Soc. Servs., 901 F.2d387, 391 (4th Cir. 1990). Such is the case here.

         Discussion

         In May 2005, Petitioner pled guilty to the charges and was sentenced to life imprisonment without parole for murder, a consecutive sentence of life for first degree burglary, and was not sentenced on the possession of a weapon during the commission of a violent crime conviction. Petitioner did not appeal his convictions and/or sentences, but filed a pro se application for post-conviction relief (2006-CP-23-01037) in the Greenville County Court of Common Pleas. See ECF No. 1 at 1. 3: see also Spoone v. Cartledge, No. 9:10-2173. 2011 WL 1631023 (D.S.C. Mar. 11, 2011) adopted by 2011 WL 1631005 (D.S.C. Apr. 29, 2011). On September 21, 2016, Petitioner filed a second application for post-conviction relief in the Greenville County Court of Common Pleas (2016-CP-23-3813), which was dismissed in January 2019. ECF No. 1 at 4-5; ECF No. 1-1. Petitioner's grounds for habeas relief are ineffective assistance of plea counsel for failing to file notice of appeal; plea not knowingly, voluntarily, or intelligently entered due to ineffective advice of plea counsel for failing to share discovery materials; and that "[t]he coroner got it wrong!" (which appears to be another ground of ineffective assistance of plea counsel). ECF No. 1 at 5, 7, 8. He requests that he be granted a direct appeal as to ground one and a new trial or lessor included offense as to the second charge with resentencing to reflect the same. Id. at 15.

         Petitioner previously filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus (Civil Action Number 9:10-2173) pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254 in August 2010 in this Court challenging the same convictions and sentences challenged here.[1] The respondent filed a motion for summary judgment on November 8, 2010; a Roseboro[2] Order was issued on November 9, 2010; and Petitioner filed a memorandum in opposition on December 15, 2010. On March 11, 2011, the undersigned issued a Report and Recommendation which recommended that Respondent's Motion for Summary Judgment be granted and the petition be dismissed. Petitioner was advised of his right to file objections to the Report and he filed objections on March 31, 2011. Thereafter, the Honorable Cameron McGowan Currie, United States District Judge, granted the respondent's motion for summary judgment and dismissed Petitioner's petition with prejudice. See Spoone v. Cartledge, No. 9:10-2173, 2011 WL 1631005 (D.S.C. Apr. 29, 2011).

         "Under the AEDPA, an individual may not file a second or successive § 2254 petition for a writ of habeas corpus or [a 28 U.S.C] § 2255 motion to vacate sentence without first receiving permission to do so from the appropriate circuit court of appeals." In re Vial, 115 F.3d 1192, 1194 (4th Cir. 1997). The "gatekeeping" mechanism created by the AEDPA amended § 2244(b) to provide:

The prospective applicant must file in the court of appeals a motion for leave to file a second or successive habeas application in the district court. § 2244(b)(3)(A). A three-judge panel has 30 days to determine whether "the application makes a prima facie showing that the application satisfies the requirements of § 2244(b). § 2244(b)(3)(C); see §§ 2244(b)(3)(B), (D).

Felker v. Turpin, 518 U.S. 651, 657 (1996). Therefore, since Petitioner's previous § 2254 petition (Civil Action No. 9:10-2173) was decided on the merits, the Petition filed in this action should be summarily dismissed because it is successive and there is no indication that Petitioner requested and received permission from the United States Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals before he submitted it to this Court. See Slack v. McDaniel, 529 U.S. 473, 485-89 (2000)[to qualify as a "successive" petition, prior petition must have been adjudicated on the merits].[3]

         This is so even if Petitioner is attempting to bring this successive petition on grounds not raised in his original petition, as under the AEDPA an individual may not file a second or successive § 2254 petition for a writ of habeas corpus (or the equivalent thereof) without first receiving permission to do so from the appropriate circuit court of appeals, [4] as the "gatekeeping" mechanism of 28 U.S.C. § 2244(b)(3)(A) provides that, "[b]efore a second or successive application permitted by this section is filed in the district court, the applicant shall move in the appropriate court of appeals for an order authorizing the district court to consider the application."[5] See In re Williams, 364 F.3d 235, 238 (4th Cir. 2004) [the "initial determination of whether a claim satisfies" the requirements of § 2244(b)(2) "must be made by a court of appeals"]; In re Fowlkes, 326 F.3d 542, 544 (4th Cir. 2003) ["Since Fowlkes has previously filed a section 2254 motion, he may only file a successive section 2254 motion if he receives authorization from this court [the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals] under the standard established in section 2244(b)(3)(C)."]; United States v. Winestock, 340 F.3d 200, 205 (4th Cir. 2003)["In the absence of pre-filing authorization [from the court of appeals], the district court lacks jurisdiction to consider an application containing abusive or repetitive claims."].

         Recommendation

         Based on the foregoing, it is recommended that the instant Petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus be summarily dismissed without prejudice ...


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