Slater v. Cartledge
ORDER adopting 45 Report and Recommendation of Magistrate Judge Mary Gordon Baker; denying 39 Motion for Summary Judgment; denying 34 Motion for Summary Judgment; granting 36 Motion for Summary Judgment. Slater's petition for relief is DENIED. A certificate of appealability is DENIED. Signed by Honorable Joseph F Anderson, Jr on 1/6/2017.(ssam, )
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
DISTRICT OF SOUTH CAROLINA
Lord Byron Slater, #279992,
C/A No. 2:15-cv-1486-JFA-MGB
Lord Byron Slater (“Petitioner” or “Slater”), a prisoner proceeding pro se, filed a petition
for writ of habeas corpus seeking relief under 28 U.S.C. § 2254. Slater alleged that his
constitutional rights have been violated based on several grounds including ineffective assistance
of counsel during his state trial for murder. In accordance with 28 U.S.C. § 636(b) and Local Civil
Rule 73.02(B)(2), D.S.C., the case was referred to the Magistrate Judge.
Petitioner filed a “Dispositive Motion” on March 24, 2016. (ECF No. 34). The Respondent
filed a motion for summary judgment on April 6, 2016. (ECF No. 36). Pursuant to Roseboro v.
Garrison, 528 F.2d 309 (4th Cir. 1975), this Court advised Petitioner of the summary judgment
and dismissal procedures and the possible consequences if he failed to adequately respond to the
Respondent’s motion. (ECF No. 37). Petitioner filed a timely response along with his own motion
for summary judgment on April 13, 2016. (ECF No. 39).
The Magistrate Judge assigned to this action1 prepared a thorough Report and
Recommendation (“Report”) and opines that this Court should grant Respondent’s motion for
summary judgment and dismiss the petition along with Petitioner’s Dispositive Motion and motion
for summary judgment. (ECF No. 45). 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. Petitioner was advised of his right to object to the Report, which was entered on the
docket on December 13, 2016. Petitioner filed objections to the Report on December 21, 2016,
(ECF No. 47), and Respondent filed a response on January 4, 2017. (ECF No. 50). Thus, this
matter is ripe for the Court’s review.
The court is charged with making a de novo determination of those portions of the Report
to which specific objections are made, and the court may accept, reject, or modify, in whole or in
part, the recommendation of the Magistrate Judge, or recommit the matter to the Magistrate Judge
with instructions. See 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1). However, a district court is only required to conduct
a de novo review of the specific portions of the Magistrate Judge’s Report to which an objection
is made. See 28 U.S.C. § 636(b); Fed. R. Civ. P. 72(b); Carniewski v. W. Virginia Bd. of Prob. &
Parole, 974 F.2d 1330 (4th Cir. 1992). In the absence of specific objections to portions of the
Report of the Magistrate, this Court is not required to give an explanation for adopting the
recommendation. See Camby v. Davis, 718 F.2d 198, 199 (4th Cir. 1983).
The Magistrate Judge’s review is made in accordance with 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B) and Local
Civil Rule 73.02(B)(2)(d) (D.S.C.). The Magistrate Judge makes only a recommendation to this
court. The recommendation has no presumptive weight, and the responsibility to make a final
determination remains with the court. Mathews v. Weber, 423 U.S. 261 (1976). The court is
charged with making a de novo determination of those portions of the Report and
Recommendation to which specific objection is made, and the court may accept, reject, or
modify, in whole or in part, the recommendation of the Magistrate Judge, or recommit the matter
to the Magistrate Judge with instructions. See 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1).
Within his petition for writ of habeas corpus, Slater sets forth three grounds for relief. The
Report thoroughly outlines the applicable legal standards and properly analyzes the claims for
relief before concluding that Respondent’s motion for summary judgment should be granted and
the petition should be dismissed. Slater has submitted three specific objections to the Report. (ECF
No. 47). However, each objection fails to elucidate any error with the Report.
Initially, Petitioner objects to the Magistrate Judge’s finding that “the autopsy report does
not meet the demanding Schlup standard, and that petitioner has not demonstrated that more likely
than not, no reasonable juror would find him guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.” (ECF No. 47 p.
1). This objection is made in response to the Magistrate Judge’s finding that Petitioner’s claim that
the trial court “erred by not allowing the jury to deliberate self-defense” was procedurally barred.
(ECF No. 45 p. 14).
In reaching this conclusion, the Magistrate Judge correctly stated that a state trial court’s
failure to charge the jury on self-defense in not cognizable within a petition for Federal habeas
corpus relief. See Estelle v. McGuire, 502 U.S. 62, 67 (1991) (“[F]ederal habeas corpus relief does
not lie for errors of state law.”) Additionally, the Magistrate Judge correctly concluded that “[t]o
the extent Petitioner claims the trial court’s failure to charge the jury on self-defense violations his
rights pursuant to the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments, such a claim is defaulted, as such a claim
was not raised to, or ruled upon, by any state court.” (ECF No. 45 p. 16).
The Magistrate Judge even went so far as to construe Petitioner’s claims regarding
evidence within an autopsy report as claims for actual innocence which could potentially serve as
an excuse for procedural default.2 To meet the requirement for actual innocence, Petitioner must
Procedural default may be excused if the Petitioner “can demonstrate cause for the default and actual
prejudice as a result of the alleged violation of federal law, or demonstrate that failure to consider the claims
“persuade the district court that, in light of the new evidence, no juror, acting reasonably, would
have voted to find him guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Schlup v. Delo, 513 U.S. 298, 329 (1995).
Petitioner claims an autopsy report indicates the presence of a projectile that killed the victim was
a caliber different than the firearm found in Petitioner’s house. However, the Magistrate Judge
correctly stated that the autopsy report “in no way identifies the caliber of the bullet recovered
from the victim.” (ECF No. 45 p. 20). Additionally, the record indicates that Counsel testifying at
Petitioner’s Post Conviction Relief hearing hired an expert to confirm the ballistic test results and
“it was clear that the weapon taken from [Petitioner’s] house was the weapon that discharged the
projectile that struck the victim.” (ECF No. 415 p. 20 n. 7). Despite Petitioner’s objection to the
contrary, the Magistrate Judge correctly concluded that Petitioner failed to show that more likely
than not, no reasonable juror would find him guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Therefore,
Petitioner’s first objection is without merit.
Secondly, Petitioner objects to the dismissal of his claim that trial counsel was ineffective
for “failing to object to the 1st set of Miranda Warnings that failed to let defendant know he could
end the interrogation.” (ECF No. 45 p. 20). In support of this objection, Petitioner states that the
Magistrate Judge “misunderstood the facts dealing with petitioners 2001 trial.” (ECF No. 47 p. 4).
However, the Magistrate Judge correctly concluded that trial counsel was not ineffective for failing
to object to Miranda Warnings that did not inform Petitioner he had a right to end the interrogation
at any time.3 Specifically, the Magistrate Judge concluded that Miranda Warnings do not
will result in a fundamental miscarriage of justice.” Coleman v. Thompson, 501 U.S. 722, 750 (1991). In
the alternative for showing cause and prejudice, a petitioner may attempt to demonstrate a miscarriage of
justice, e.g., actual innocence. Bousley v. United States, 523 U.S. 614, 623 (1998).
The Magistrate Judge correctly applied the two prong analysis for ineffective assistance of counsel. “The
United States Supreme Court has said that a meritorious ineffective assistance of counsel claim must show
two things: first, that counsel’s performance was deficient and, second, that counsel’s deficient performance
prejudiced the defense. Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668, 687-96 (1984).” (ECF No. 45 p. 22).
necessarily have to inform the defendant that he has a right to end the interrogation. See Michigan
v. Mosley, 423 U.S. 96, 99-100 & n.6 (1975) (noting the “specified warnings” required by Miranda
are as follows: “The warnings must inform the person in custody ‘that he has a right to remain
silent, that any statement he does make may be used as evidence against him, and that he has a
right to the presence of an attorney, either retained or appointed.’” (quoting Miranda, 384 U.S. at
444)); United States v. Ricks, 989 F.2d 501 (6th Cir. 1993) (unpublished table decision) (rejecting
the argument that a Miranda warning must “include the right to stop answering questions at any
time”); United States v. Lares-Valdez, 939 F.2d 688, 689-90 (9th Cir. 1991) (“We agree with the
other federal courts that have ruled that a defendant need not be informed of a right to stop
questioning after it has begun.); United States v. DiGiacomo, 579 F.2d 1211, 1214 (10th Cir. 1978)
(noting that Miranda does not contain an “express requirement to warn suspects of the right to
terminate questioning”). Therefore, trial counsel was not ineffective for raising a meritless
objection, nor was Petitioner prejudiced in any way by a failure to object. Consequently,
Petitioner’s objection is without merit.
Finally, Petitioner objects to the Magistrate Judge’s finding that all of the remaining
grounds for relief are procedurally defaulted because they were never raised in state court.4 (ECF
No. 45 p. 26). Petitioner’s objection appears to argue again that he has a claim for actual innocence
and is therefore excused from the procedural bar. (ECF No. 47 p. 5 n. 2). This assertion is again
based on the use of the autopsy report that Petitioner claims identifies a certain caliber projectile
different than the ones fired from his handgun. (ECF No. 47 p. 5). For the same reasons stated
above, Petitioner’s claim falls short of the showing required for actual innocence. Accordingly,
the objection is without merit.
The Magistrate Judge also included further analysis concluding that these remaining claims were
After carefully reviewing the applicable laws, the record in this case, as well as the Report,
this court finds the Magistrate Judge’s recommendation fairly and accurately summarizes the facts
and applies the correct principles of law. Accordingly, the Court ADOPTS the Report and
Recommendation (ECF No. 45), GRANTS the Respondent’s motion for summary judgment (ECF
No. 36), and DENIES Petitioner’s dispositive motion (ECF No. 34) and summary judgment
motion (ECF No. 39). Accordingly Slater’s petition for relief is DENIED.
Further, because Petitioner has failed to make “a substantial showing of the denial of a
constitutional right,” a certificate of appealability is DENIED. 28 U.S.C. § 2253(c)(2).5
IT IS SO ORDERED.
January 6, 2017
Columbia, South Carolina
Joseph F. Anderson, Jr.
United States District Judge
A certificate of appealability will not issue absent “a substantial showing of the denial of a constitutional
right.” 28 U.S.C. § 2253(c)(2). A prisoner satisfies this standard by demonstrating that reasonable jurists
would find both that his constitutional claims are debatable and that any dispositive procedural rulings by
the district court are also debatable or wrong. See Miller-El v. Cockrell, 537 U.S. 322, 336 (2003); Slack v.
McDaniel, 529 U.S. 473, 484 (2000); Rose v. Lee, 252 F.3d 676, 683 (4th Cir. 2001). In the instant matter,
the court finds that the defendant has failed to make “a substantial showing of the denial of a constitutional
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