Millen v. State of South Carolina

Filing 5

REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION recommending 1 Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus filed by Kevin D Millen be dismissed without prejudice. Objections to R&R due by 2/22/2007. Signed by Judge William M Catoe on 2/1/07. (ladd, ) Additional attachment(s) added on 2/2/2007 (dnap, ).

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Millen v. State of South Carolina Doc. 5 6:07-cv-00277-CMC Date Filed 02/01/2007 Entry Number 5 Page 1 of 13 U N IT E D STATES DISTRICT COURT D IS T R IC T OF SOUTH CAROLINA K e v in D. M ille n , # 232987, aka Kevin Don Millen, ) ) ) ) P et i t i on e r , ) ) vs . ) ) S t a te of South Carolina; and ) L e V e r n Cohen, W ard en of Ridgeland Correctional ) Institution, ) ) R e s p on d en t s . _ _ __ _ __ _ __ _ __ _ __ _ __ _ __ _ __ _ __ _ __ _ __ _ __ _ __ _ __ _ ) C/A No. 6:07-0277-CM C -W M C R e p o rt and Recommendation Background of this Case The petitioner is an inmate at the Ridgeland Correctional Institution of the South Carolina Department of Corrections (SCDC). On November 15, 2 0 0 5, in the Court of General Sessions for Colleton County, the petitioner pled guilty to common law robbery and was sentenced to fifteen (15) years in prison. No direct appeal was filed. The petitioner's answers to Questions 10 and 11 of the Section 2254 petition (Entry No.1) reveal that he has not f i led any other applications, petitions, or motions with respect to his conviction. The petitioner raises various grounds in the petition: ineffective 1 6:07-cv-00277-CMC Date Filed 02/01/2007 Entry Number 5 Page 2 of 13 assistance of counsel; lack of subject matter jurisdiction; violation of due process; and newly-discovered evidence. Discussion Under established local procedure in this judicial district, a careful review has been made of the pro se petition pursuant to the procedural provisions of 28 U.S.C. § 1915 and the Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996. The review1 has been conducted in light of the f ollowing precedents: Denton v. Hernandez, 504 U.S. 25, 118 L.Ed.2d 340, 112 S.Ct. 1728, 1992 U.S. LEXIS® 2689 (1992); Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 324-325, 104 L.Ed.2d 338, 109 S.Ct. 1827, 1989 U.S. LEXIS® 2231 (1989); Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519 (1972); Nasim v. Warden, Maryland House of Correction, 64 F.3d 951, 1995 U.S.App. LEXIS® 26108 (4th Cir. 1995)(en banc), cert. denied, 516 U.S. 1177, 134 L.Ed.2d 219, 116 S.Ct. 1273 (1996); Todd v. Baskerville, 712 F.2d 70 (4th Cir. 1983); and Pursuant to the provisions of 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B) and Local Civil Rule 73.02 (DSC), th e undersigned is authorized to review such complaints for relief and submit findings and rec om m en d ation s to the District Court. 2 1 6:07-cv-00277-CMC Date Filed 02/01/2007 Entry Number 5 Page 3 of 13 Boyce v. Alizaduh, 595 F.2d 948 (4th Cir. 1979).2 Pro se complaints and petitions are held to a less stringent standard than those drafted by attorneys, Gordon v. Leeke, 574 F.2d 1147, 1151 (4th Cir.), cert. denied, Leeke v. Gordon, 439 U.S. 970 (1978), and a federal district court is charged with liberally construing a complaint or petition filed by a pro se litigant to allow the development of a potentially meritorious case. See Hughes v. Rowe, 449 U.S. 5, 9 (1980); and Cruz v. Beto, 405 U.S. 319 (1972). When a federal court is evaluating a pro se complaint or petition, the plaintiff's or petitioner's allegations are assumed to be true. Fine v. City of New York, 529 F.2d 70, 74 (2nd Cir. 1975). Even under this less stringent standard, the petition is subject to summary dismissal. The requirement of liberal construction does not mean that the court can ignore a clear failure in the pleading to allege f acts which set forth a claim currently cognizable in a federal district court. W eller v. Department of Social Services, 901 F.2d 387, 1990 U.S.App. LEXIS® 6120 (4th Cir. 1990). Boyce has been held by some authorities to have been abrogated in part, on other grounds, b y Neitzke v. W illiam s , 490 U.S. 319 (1989)(insofar as Neitzke establishes that a complaint th at fails to state a claim, under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), does not by definition m erit sua sponte dismissal under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(i) [formerly 28 U.S.C. § 1915(d)], as "frivolous"). 3 2 6:07-cv-00277-CMC Date Filed 02/01/2007 Entry Number 5 Page 4 of 13 W ith respect to his conviction and sentence, the petitioner's sole f ederal remedies are a writ of habeas corpus under either 28 U.S.C. § 2254 or 28 U.S.C. § 2241, which remedies can be sought only after the petitioner has exhausted his state court remedies. "It is the rule in this country that assertions of error in criminal proceedings must first be raised in state court i n order to form the basis for relief in habeas. Claims not so raised are considered defaulted." Beard v. Green, 523 U.S. 371, 375, 140 L.Ed.2d 529, 118 S.Ct. 1352, 1998 U.S. LEXIS® 2465 (1998)(citing Wainwright v. Sykes, 433 U.S. 72 (1977)). See also 28 U.S.C. § 2254(b); Braden v. 30th Judicial Circuit Court, 410 U.S. 484, 490-491 (1973); Picard v. Connor, 404 U.S. 270 (1971); Schandelmeier v. Cunningham, 819 F.2d 52, 53, 1986 U.S. App. LE XIS® 36955 (3rd Cir. 1986)(exhaustion required under § 2241). The exhaustion requirements under § 2254 are fully set forth in Matthew s v. Evatt, 105 F.3d 907, 1997 U.S.App. LEXIS® 1319 (4th Cir.), cert. denied, Matthews v. Moore, 522 U.S. 833, 139 L.Ed.2d 57, 118 S.Ct. 102, 1997 U.S. LEXIS® 4939 (1997): In the interest of giving state courts the first opportunity to consider alleged constitutional errors occurring in a defendant's state trial and sentencing, a § 2254 petitioner is required to "exhaust" all state court remedies before a federal district court can entertain his claims. Thus, a federal habeas court may 4 6:07-cv-00277-CMC Date Filed 02/01/2007 Entry Number 5 Page 5 of 13 consider only those issues which have been "fairly presented" to the state courts. . . . To satisfy the exhaustion requirement, a habeas petitioner must fairly present his claim to the state's highest court. The burden of proving that a claim has been exhausted lies with the pe tit io ne r. Th e exhaustion requirement, though not jurisdictional, is strictly enforced[.] Matthew s v. Evatt, 105 F.3d at 910-911 (citations omitted from quotation). In any event, it is clear that the petitioner has not exhausted his state court remedies. Exhaustion of state court remedies is required by 28 U.S.C. § 2254(b)(1)(A). Although the time for the petitioner to file a direct appeal in his criminal case has obviously expired, the petitioner can file an application f or post-conviction relief. See § 17-27-10, et seq., South Carolina Code of Laws. The applicant may allege constitutional violations in a post-conviction proceeding but only if the issue could not have been raised by direct appeal. Gibson v. State, 329 S.C. 37, 41, 495 S.E.2d 426, 428, 1998 S.C. LEXIS® 6 (1998)(citing S.C. Code Ann. § 17-27-20(a)(1), (b); and Simmons v. State, 264 S.C. 417, 215 S.E.2d 883 (1975)). "Exhaustion includes filing of an application, the rendering of an order adjudicating the issues, and petitioning f or, or knowingly waiving, appellate review." Gibson v. State, supra, 329 S.C. at 42, 495 S.E.2d at 428. The Supreme Court of South Carolina has 5 6:07-cv-00277-CMC Date Filed 02/01/2007 Entry Number 5 Page 6 of 13 sp e cif ically stated: "[W]hen the claim has been presented to the Court of Appeals or the Supreme Court, and relief has been denied, the litigant shall be deemed to have exhausted all available state remedies." See In Re Exhaustion of State Remedies in Criminal and Post-Conviction Relief Cases, 321 S.C. 563, 564, 471 S.E.2d 454 (1990); and State v. McKennedy, 348 S.C. 270, 559 S.E.2d 850, 2002 S.C. LEXIS® 26 (2002).3 Applications for post-conviction relief are to be filed in the Court of Common Pleas for the county in which a South Carolina prisoner was convicted in a Court of General Sessions. In an application for post- conviction relief, the petitioner can raise issues relating to ineffective assistance of counsel. See Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668, 686, 80 L.Ed.2d 674, 104 S.Ct. 2052 (1984); and Brightman v. State, 336 S.C. 348, 520 S.E.2d 614, 1999 S.C. LEXIS® 164 (1999). W h er e a habeas petitioner has failed to exhaust his state remedies and the state court w ou ld now find his claims procedurally barred, further exhaustion is not required. See C olem an v. Thompson, 501 U.S. 722, 735 n. 1, 1991 U.S. LEXIS® 3640 (1991); Breard v. P ru ett, 134 F.3d 615, 619, 1998 U.S.App. LEXIS® 892 (4th Cir. 1998). However, the federal c ou r t is precluded from hearing a procedurally defaulted claim unless the petitioner "<can d em on s trate cause for the default and actual prejudice as a result of the alleged violation of f ed eral law, or demonstrate that failure to consider the claim[ ] will result in a fundamental m is c ar riag e of justice.'" Matthews v. Evatt, supra, 105 F.3d at 916 (quoting Coleman v. T h om p s on , supra, 501 U.S. at 750). This standard has been referred to as a "demanding b u r d en ." Townes v. Murray, 68 F.3d 840, 847, 1995 U.S.App. LEXIS® 30789 (4th Cir. 1995). 6 3 6:07-cv-00277-CMC Date Filed 02/01/2007 Entry Number 5 Page 7 of 13 In order to prevail on a claim of the ineffective assistance of counsel, a person in a habeas corpus or post-conviction proceeding must show: (1) counsel's representation fell below an objective standard of reasonableness; and (2) there is a reasonable probability that, but for counsel's unprofessional errors, the result of the proceeding would have been different. Strickland v. W ashington, supra, 466 at 687-694. The second prong of the Strickland test is often called the "prejudice" component. See also W illia m s v. Taylor, 529 U.S. 362, 146 L.E.2d 389, 120 S.Ct. 1495, 2000 U.S. LEXIS® 2837 (20 00 ). A state court's finding on a claim of the ineffective assistance of counsel is a combination of a finding of fact and a conclusion of law. Although applicable precedents require this court, under 28 U.S.C. § 2254, to make its own determination of both the performance and (if necessary) the "prejudice" com ponents highlighted in Strickland v. Washington, supra, the historical facts decided by a court of a state in a claim of ineffective assistance of counsel rem ain subject to deference. See Hoots v. Allsbrook, 785 F.2d 1214, 1219 & n. 6 (4th Cir. 1986)("old" § 2254(d) standard); Williams v. Taylor, supra (standard under Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act); and James v. Harrison, 389 F.3d 450, 452-457, 2004 U.S.App. LEXIS® 23962 (4th Cir. 7 6:07-cv-00277-CMC Date Filed 02/01/2007 Entry Number 5 Page 8 of 13 2004)(applying Williams v. Taylor standard), cert. denied, 544 U.S. 1005, 161 L.Ed.2d 782, 125 S.Ct. 1945, 2005 U.S. LEXIS® 3626 (2005). Hence, if the petitioner intends to raise any claims relating to ineffective assistance of counsel in a federal habeas corpus action, findings of fact by a South Carolina court are necessary before the petitioner can seek federal review of his conviction in a § 2254 proceeding. If a South Carolina prisoner's application for post-conviction relief is denied or dismissed by a Court of Common Pleas, he or she can file an "appeal" (petition for writ of certiorari) in that post-conviction case. See § 17-27-100, South Carolina Code of Laws; and Knight v. State, 284 S.C. 138, 325 S.E.2d 535 (1985). In fact, if a Court of Common Pleas denies an application for post-conviction relief or dismisses the application for postconviction relief, the applicant must seek appellate review by the Supreme Court of South Carolina of that disposition from the Court of Common Pleas, or federal collateral review of the grounds raised in his or her application for post-conviction relief will be barred by a procedural default. See Whitley v. Bair, 802 F.2d 1487, 1500 & n. 27 (4th Cir. 1986), cert. denied, 480 U.S. 951 (1987); Mason v. Procunier, 748 F.2d 852, 853-854 (4th Cir. 1984), cert. denied, Mason v. Sielaff, 471 U.S. 1009 (1985); and Strader v. Allsbrook, 8 6:07-cv-00277-CMC Date Filed 02/01/2007 Entry Number 5 Page 9 of 13 656 F.2d 67, 68 (4th Cir. 1981).4 In fact, South Carolina prisoners have been successf ul on such appeals in their post-conviction cases. See, e.g., Morris v. State, 2006 S.C. LEXIS® 392, 2006 WESTLAW® 3591297 (Supreme Court of South Carolina, December 11, 2006)(on issue of ineffective assistance of counsel); Riddle v. Ozmint, 369 S.C. 39, 631 S.E.2d 70, 2006 S.C. LEXIS® 177 (2006); Stevens v. State, 365 S.C. 309, 617 S.E.2d 366, 2 0 0 5 S.C. LEXIS® 221(2005); and Vaughn v. State, 362 S.C. 163, 607 S.E.2d 72, 73-76, 2004 S.C. LEXIS® 296 (2004). The United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit has held that South Carolina's Uniform Post-Conviction Procedure Act is a viable statecourt remedy. See Miller v. Harvey, 566 F.2d 879, 880-881 (4th Cir. 1977), cert. denied, 439 U.S. 838 (1978); and Patterson v. Leeke, 556 F.2d 1168, 1170-1173 (4th Cir.), cert. denied, 434 U.S. 929 (1977). The petitioner should be mindful that the General Assembly has enacted lim itations periods for post-conviction cases. See 1995 S.C. Acts 7, which has been codified at Section 17-27-45, South Carolina Code of Laws; Sutton The Supreme Court of South Carolina has authorized the South Carolina Court of Appeals to hear petitions for certiorari in post-conviction cases upon referral from the Supreme Court of South Carolina. See Supreme Court Order 2005-08 (C.O. 08 effective May 1, 2005), S h earh ou s e Advanced Sheet # 19. 9 4 6:07-cv-00277-CMC Date Filed 02/01/2007 Entry Number 5 Page 10 of 13 v. State, 361 S.C. 644, 606 S.E.2d 779, 2004 S.C. LEXIS® 285 (2004); and Peloquin v. State, 321 S.C. 468, 469-470, 409 S.E.2d 606, 607, 1996 S . C . LEXIS® 57 (1996). Cf. Leamon v. State, 363 S.C. 432, 611 S.E.2d 494, 2005 S.C. LEXIS® 97(2005)(prisoner's incarceration in another j urisdiction does not toll limitations period of § 17-27-45); and Green v. State, 353 S.C. 29, 30, 576 S.E.2d 182, 183, 2003 S.C. LEXIS® 19 (2003)(the filing of a federal § 2254 petition does not toll the one-year limitations period of § 17-27-45, South Carolina Code of Laws).5 Since the petitioner has yet to exhaust two viable state court remedies -- an application for post-conviction relief and (if necessary) an appeal in the post-conviction case, this court should not keep this case on its docket while the petitioner is exhausting his state court remedies. See Galloway v. Stephenson, 510 F. Supp. 840, 846 (M.D.N.C. 1981): "When state court remedies have not been exhausted, absent special circumstances, a federal habeas court may not retain the case on its docket, pending exhaustion, but should dismiss the petition." See also Pitchess v. Davis, 421 U.S. 482, 490 (1975); and Lawson v. Dixon, 3 F.3d 743, 749 n. 4, 1993 U.S.App. LEXIS® In any event, the filing of a federal habeas petition does not toll the limitations period for f ilin g a timely petition under 28 U.S.C. § 2254. Duncan v. W alker, 533 U.S. 167, 150 L.Ed.2d 2 5 1 , 121 S.Ct. 2120, 2001 U.S. LEXIS® 4493 (2001). 10 5 6:07-cv-00277-CMC Date Filed 02/01/2007 Entry Number 5 Page 11 of 13 21646 (4th Cir. 1993), cert. denied, 510 U.S. 1171, 127 L.Ed.2d 556, 114 S.Ct. 1208, 1994 U.S. LEXIS® 1917 (1994), where the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit noted: "[E]xhaustion is not a jurisdictional requirement, but rather arises from interests of comity between the state and f ederal courts." Recommendation Accordingly, it is recommended that the petition for writ of habeas corpus be dismissed without prejudice and without requiring the respondents to file a return. See Allen v. Perini, 424 F.2d 134, 141 (6th Cir.)(federal district courts have duty to screen habeas corpus petitions and eliminate burden placed on respondents caused by ordering an unnecessary answer or return), cert. denied, 400 U.S. 906 (1970); Toney v. Gammon, 79 F.3d 693, 697, 1996 U.S.App. LEXIS® 5804 (8th Cir. 1996)("However, a petition may be summarily dismissed if the record clearly indicates that the petitioner's claims are either barred from review or without merit."); Baker v. Marshall, 1995 U.S.Dist. LEXIS® 4614, *2-*3, 1995 WESTLAW® 150451 11 6:07-cv-00277-CMC Date Filed 02/01/2007 Entry Number 5 Page 12 of 13 (N. D. Cal., March 31, 1995)("The District Court may enter an order for the summary dismissal of a habeas petition if it plainly appears from the face of the petition and any exhibits annexed to it that the petitioner is not entitled to relief in this Court."); and the Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996. The petitioner's attention is directed to the important notice on the next page. February 1, 2007 Greenville, South Carolina s/William M. Catoe United States Magistrate Judge 12 6:07-cv-00277-CMC Date Filed 02/01/2007 Entry Number 5 Page 13 of 13 Notice of Right to File Objections to Report and Recommendation The petitioner is advised that he may file specific written objections to this Report and Recommendation with the District Court Judge. Objections must specifically identify the portions of the Report and Recommendation to which objections are made and the basis for such objections. In the absence of a timely filed objection, a district court judge 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." Diamond v. Colonial Life & Acc. Ins. Co., 416 F.3d 310 (4th Cir. 2005). Specific written objections must be filed within ten (10) days of the date of service of this Report and Recommendation. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1); Fed. R. Civ. P. 72(b). The time calculation of this ten-day period excludes weekends and holidays and provides for an additional three (3) days for filing by mail. Fed. R. Civ. P. 6(a) & (e). Filing by mail pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 5 may be accomplished by mailing objections to: Larry W. Propes, Clerk United States District Court Post Office Box 10768 Greenville, South Carolina 29603 Failure to timely file specific written objections to this Report and Recommendation will result in the waiver of the right to appeal from a judgment of the District Court based upon such Recommendation. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1); Thomas v. Arn, 474 U.S. 140 (1985); United States v. Schronce, 727 F.2d 91 (4th Cir.), cert. denied, Schronce v. United States, 467 U.S. 1208 (1984); and Wright v. Collins, 766 F.2d 841 (4th Cir. 1985). 13

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