Stanfield v. Reynolds
OPINION AND ORDER adopting 25 Report and Recommendation of Magistrate Judge Mary Gordon Baker; granting 14 Motion for Summary Judgment. This matter is dismissed with prejudice. A certificate of appealability is denied. Signed by Honorable Cameron McGowan Currie on 1/10/2017.(ssam, )
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF SOUTH CAROLINA
Leonard Stanfield, #235306,
C/A. No. 2:16-1066-CMC-MGB
C. Reynolds, Warden, Lee Correctional
Opinion and Order
This matter is before the court on Plaintiff’s pro se application for writ of habeas corpus,
filed in this court pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. ECF No. 1. Plaintiff claims the “Post
Conviction Relief Court erred” when it found Plaintiff’s trial counsel was not deficient for failing
to object to the trial judge entering the jury room and engaging in out-of-court ex parte
communications with the jury, and when it determined counsel was not deficient for failing to
object to the court’s instruction on reasonable doubt.
These issues were raised in a Post
Conviction Relief (“PCR”) application, but were not included in a petition for writ of certiorari
to the South Carolina Supreme Court, as the petition only raised the issue of potentially
prejudicial testimony. Plaintiff claims that he is able to establish cause to excuse this procedural
default regarding the claims submitted to the South Carolina Supreme Court following his
unsuccessful PCR action.
On August 17, 2016, Defendant filed a motion for summary judgment. ECF No. 14. A
Roseboro Order was mailed to Plaintiff on August 17, 2016, advising Plaintiff of the importance
of a dispositive motion and the need for Plaintiff to file an adequate response. ECF No. 16.
Plaintiff filed a response in opposition to the summary judgment motion on November 28, 2016.
ECF No. 24.
In accordance with 28 U.S.C. § 636(b) and Local Civil Rule 73.02 (B)(2)(d), DSC, this
matter was referred to United States Magistrate Judge Mary Gordon Baker for pre-trial
proceedings and a Report and Recommendation (“Report”).
On December 6, 2016, the
Magistrate Judge issued a Report recommending that Defendants’ summary judgment motion be
granted and Plaintiff’s application be dismissed with prejudice. ECF No. 25. Specifically, the
Magistrate Judge recommended that the application be dismissed due to procedural default,
which Plaintiff was unable to overcome, and in the alternative, that his application fails on the
merits of his ineffectiveness claims. The Magistrate Judge advised Plaintiff of the procedures
and requirements for filing objections to the Report and the serious consequences if he failed to
do so. Plaintiff has filed no objections and the time for doing so has expired, and Plaintiff’s copy
of the Report has not been returned to the court.
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. See Matthews v. Weber, 423 U.S. 261 (1976). The court is charged with making a de
novo determination of any portion of the Report of the Magistrate Judge to which a specific
objection is made.
The court may accept, reject, or modify, in whole or in part, the
recommendation made by the Magistrate Judge or recommit the matter to the Magistrate Judge
with instructions. See 28 U.S.C. § 636(b). The court reviews the Report only for clear error in
the absence of an objection. See Diamond v. Colonial Life & Accident Ins. Co., 416 F.3d 310,
315 (4th Cir. 2005) (stating that “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.”) (citation omitted).
After reviewing the complaint, the motion, the applicable law, and the Report and
Recommendation of the Magistrate Judge, the court finds no clear error. Accordingly, both
conclusions of the Report and Recommendation of the Magistrate Judge are adopted and
incorporated by reference. The court finds that Plaintiff has procedurally defaulted on his claims
of ineffectiveness of trial counsel not raised in a petition for writ of certiorari to the South
Carolina Supreme Court; although Plaintiff argued that he was able to show a reason to excuse
the default, his allegations of ineffective appellate counsel (who drafted the petition) do not
establish cause for default. See Martinez v. Ryan, 132 S.Ct. 1309, 1315 (2012) (“Inadequate
assistance of counsel at initial-review collateral proceedings may establish cause for a prisoner’s
procedural default of a claim of ineffective assistance at trial.”); Johnson v. Warden of Broad
River Corr. Inst., No. 12-7270, 2013 WL 856731 (4th Cir. Mar. 8, 2013) (“[B[ecause Johnson
alleges only ineffective assistance of appellate postconviction counsel, his allegations do not
constitute cause for his failure to exhaust under the limited exception in Martinez.”). In the
alternative, Plaintiff’s claims of ineffective assistance of counsel fail on the merits for the
reasons stated by the Magistrate Judge.
Defendants’ motion for summary judgment is granted. This matter is dismissed with
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 by 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 is 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. 2001). 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/ Cameron McGowan Currie
CAMERON MCGOWAN CURRIE
Senior United States District Judge
Columbia, South Carolina
January 10, 2017
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