Sheppard v. Reynolds
OPINION AND ORDER: The Court overrules Petitioner's objections and adopts and incorporates by reference the Magistrate Judge's 25 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 without an evidentiary hearing. A certificate of appealability is DENIED. Signed by Honorable Bruce Howe Hendricks on 1/13/2016. (prou, )
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF SOUTH CAROLINA
Louis Sheppard, #262090,
) Civil Action No.: 4:15-798-BHH
OPINION AND ORDER
Warden Cecilia Reynolds,
Petitioner Louis Sheppard, (“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, D.S.C., the action was referred to United
States Magistrate Judge Thomas E. Rogers, III, for pretrial handling and a Report and
Recommendation (“Report”). Judge Rogers recommends that Respondent’s motion for
summary judgment be granted and Petitioner’s § 2254 petition be dismissed without an
evidentiary hearing. (ECF No. 25.) 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 on February 26, 2015, alleging
ineffective assistance of counsel. On September 10, 2015, the Magistrate Judge issued
a Report; and on September 24, 2015, Petitioner filed his Objections. (ECF No. 27.) The
Court has reviewed the objections, but finds them to be without merit. Therefore, it will
enter judgment accordingly.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
The Magistrate Judge makes only a recommendation to the court. The
recommendation has no presumptive weight. The responsibility to make a final
determination remains with the 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 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 with instructions. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1). However, 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 Magistrate Judge found that Grounds One, Three, and Four are
procedurally barred and the Court agrees. Moreover, Petitioner has made no showing of
cause for his failure to raise these claims or actual prejudice, nor does he demonstrate
that failure to consider these claims would result in a miscarriage of justice. See
Coleman v. Thompson, 501 U.S. 722, 749–750 (1991). Therefore, the Court is unable
to review Grounds One, Three, and Four under § 2254.
In Ground Two, Petitioner contends that his trial counsel “erred in ordering
[P]etitioner not to testify in his defense at trial.” (ECF No. 1 at 7.) The Magistrate Judge
thoroughly discussed the state court’s treatment of this claim and correctly concluded
that the ruling of the state court was reasonable and that Petitioner failed to carry his
burden of establishing counsel was ineffective as required by Strickland v. Washington,
466 U.S. 886 (1984), and its progeny. (ECF No. 25 at 13–16.)
Petitioner’s objections consist of nothing more than arguments that the
Magistrate Judge has already considered and rejected. 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 discuss those
same issues for a second time here. Therefore, the Court will overrule Petitioner’s
For the reasons stated above and by the Magistrate Judge, the Court overrules
Petitioner’s objections and adopts and incorporates by reference the Magistrate Judge’s
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
without an evidentiary hearing.
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/Bruce Howe Hendricks
United States District Judge
January 13, 2016
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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