Vazquez v. Wilson et al
ORDER adopting Report and Recommendations of Magistrate Judge Mary Gordon Baker; granting 18 Motion for Summary Judgment. Petitioners § 2254 petition is DISMISSED with prejudice. Signed by Honorable Bruce Howe Hendricks on 2/8/2017.(cwhi, )
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
DISTRICT OF SOUTH CAROLINA
Juan Carlos Vazquez, #351021,
Civil Action No.: 2:15-4475-BHH
Opinion and Order
Warden Leroy Cartledge,
Petitioner Juan Carlos Vazquez (“Petitioner”), proceeding pro se, filed this
application for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. (ECF No. 1.) In
accordance with 28 U.S.C. § 636(b) and Local Rule 73.02(B)(2)(d), D.S.C., the action
was referred to United States Magistrate Judge Mary Gordon Baker for pretrial
handling and a Report and Recommendation (“Report”). Magistrate Judge Baker
recommends that Respondent’s Motion for Summary Judgment be granted and
Petitioner’s habeas petition be dismissed with prejudice. (ECF No. 40.) The Report
sets forth in detail the relevant facts and standards of law on this matter and the Court
incorporates them without recitation.
Petitioner filed this action against Respondent alleging ineffective assistance of
counsel and prosecutorial misconduct. On December 12, 2016, the Magistrate Judge
issued a Report; on January 13, 2017, Petitioner filed his objections, and on January
27, 2017, the Respondent filed a reply. (ECF Nos. 40, 45, 46.) Having carefully
reviewed the record, the Court finds that the Magistrate Judge has accurately and
adequately summarized the disputed and undisputed facts relevant to this action. The
Court has reviewed the objections, but finds them to be without merit. Therefore, it will
enter judgment accordingly.1
STANDARD OF REVIEW
The Magistrate Judge makes only a recommendation to the district court. The
recommendation has no presumptive weight. The responsibility to make a final
determination remains with the district court. Mathews v. Weber, 423 U.S. 261, 270–71
(1976). The court is charged with making a de novo determination of those portions of
the Report 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 with instructions. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1). The court need not conduct a de
novo review when a party makes only “general and conclusory objections that do not
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). In the
absence of a timely filed, specific objection, the Magistrate Judge’s conclusions are
reviewed only for clear error. See Diamond v. Colonial Life & Accident Ins. Co., 416
F.3d 310, 315 (4th Cir. 2005).
The Court agrees with the Magistrate Judge’s recommendation that summary
judgment be granted on Grounds One and Two. These claims allege ineffective
assistance of counsel and prosecutorial misconduct. The Magistrate Judge thoroughly
As always, the Court says only what is necessary to address Petitioner’s objections against the already
meaningful backdrop of a thorough Report of the Magistrate Judge, incorporated entirely by specific
reference, herein, to the degree not inconsistent. Exhaustive recitation of law and fact exists there.
discussed the state court’s treatment of these claims and correctly concluded that the
ruling of the PCR court was reasonable, that Petitioner failed to carry his burden of
establishing counsel was ineffective, and that the PCR court’s rejection of the claim of
prosecutorial misconduct was not contrary to, or an unreasonable application of, clearly
established federal law. Moreover, Petitioner has not presented any evidence to
suggest that the PCR court engaged in an unreasonable determination of the facts.
Petitioner’s objections consist of arguments that the Magistrate Judge has
already considered and rejected. Petitioner repeats his claims of ineffective assistance
of counsel and prosecutorial misconduct, and then simply states that he has satisfied
the burdens applicable to those claims. (See ECF No. 45 at 2-7.) Petitioner is confused
about what it means for a claim to be procedurally defaulted, and as a result makes
arguments based on Martinez v. Ryan, 132 S. Ct. 1309 (2012), which are entirely
inapplicable to the reasons for dismissal of his petition. (See id. at 6-7.) To be clear,
there are no procedurally defaulted claims at issue in this case. Such general and
conclusory objections do not invoke de novo review. Orpiano, 687 F.2d at 47. Thus,
the Court is tasked only with review of the Magistrate Judge’s conclusions for clear
error. Because the Court agrees with the cogent analysis by the Magistrate Judge, it
need not extensively discuss those same issues for a second time here. Therefore, the
Court overrules Petitioner’s objections.
After a thorough review of the Report, the record, and the applicable law, the
Court finds that Petitioner’s objections are without merit and the Magistrate Judge’s
conclusions evince no clear error. Accordingly, for the reasons stated above and by the
Magistrate Judge, the Court overrules Petitioner’s objections, adopts the Report, and
incorporates the Report herein. It is therefore ORDERED that Respondent’s motion for
summary judgment (ECF No. 18) is GRANTED, and Petitioner’s § 2254 petition is
DISMISSED with prejudice.
CERTIFICATE OF APPEALABILITY
The governing law provides that:
(c)(2) A certificate of appealability may issue . . .only if the applicant has
made a substantial showing of the denial of a constitutional right.
(c)(3) The certificate of appealability. . . shall indicate which specific issue
or issues satisfy the showing required in paragraph (2).
28 U.S.C. § 2253(c). A prisoner satisfies this standard by demonstrating that
reasonable jurists would find this court’s assessment of his constitutional claims to be
debatable or wrong and that any dispositive procedural ruling by the district court is
likewise debatable. 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. 2011). In
this case, the legal standard for the issuance of a certificate of appealability has not
been met. Therefore, a certificate of appealability is DENIED.
IT IS SO ORDERED.
/s/ Bruce Howe Hendricks__
United States District Judge
February 8, 2017
Greenville, South Carolina
NOTICE OF RIGHT TO APPEAL
The parties are hereby notified that any right to appeal this Order is governed by
Rules 3 and 4 of the Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure.
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