Simmons v. South Carolina, State of et al
ORDER RULING on 26 Report and Recommendation. IT IS ORDERED that Respondent's 18 Motion for Summary Judgment is GRANTED and Petitioner's §2254 motion is DISMISSED with prejudice. The Court declines to issue a certificate of appealability in this matter. Signed by Honorable G Ross Anderson, Jr on 12/10/12. (kmca)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
DISTRICT OF SOUTH CAROLINA
Samuel T. Simmons,
Warden Wayne McCabe,
C/A No.: 8:12-cv-00951-GRA
This matter comes before the Court for a review of the Magistrate Judge’s
Report and Recommendation, filed on October 25, 2012.
See ECF No. 26.
Petitioner brought this action pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254 on April 6, 2012. See
ECF No. 1.
Magistrate Judge Jacquelyn D. Austin recommends that Respondent’s
Motion for Summary Judgment be granted and that Petitioner’s § 2254 petition be
dismissed with prejudice.
Petitioner brings this claim pro se. This Court is required to construe pro se
pleadings liberally. Such pleadings are held to a less stringent standard than those
drafted by attorneys. Gordon v. Leeke, 574 F.2d 1147, 1151 (4th Cir. 1978). This
Court is charged with liberally construing a pleading filed by a pro se litigant to allow
for the development of a potentially meritorious claim. Boag v. MacDougall, 454 U.S.
364, 365 (1982). A court may not construct the petitioner’s legal arguments for him,
Small v. Endicott, 998 F.2d 411 (7th Cir. 1993), nor is a district court required to
recognize “obscure or extravagant claims defying the most concerted efforts to
unravel them,” Beaudett v. City of Hampton, 775 F.2d 1274, 1277 (4th Cir. 1985).
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The Magistrate Judge makes only a recommendation to this Court.
recommendation has no presumptive weight, and the responsibility to make a final
determination remains with this Court. Mathews v. Weber, 423 U.S. 261, 270–71
(1976). This Court is charged with making a de novo determination of those portions
of the Report and Recommendation to which specific objection is made, and this
Court may "accept, reject, or modify, in whole or in part, the findings or
recommendations made by the magistrate." 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1). This Court may
also "receive further evidence or recommit the matter to the magistrate with
instructions." Id. However, in the absence of specific objections to the Report and
Recommendation, this Court is not required to give any explanation for adopting the
recommendation. Camby v. Davis, 718 F.2d 198 (4th. Cir. 1983). Additionally, any
party who fails to file timely, written objections to the Magistrate Judge’s report
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1) waives the right to raise those objections at the
appellate court level. United States v. Schrone, 727 F.2d 91 (4th Cir. 1984), cert.
denied, 467 U.S. 1208 (1984). Neither party filed any objections to the Report and
After reviewing the Magistrate Judge’s Report and Recommendation, relevant
case law, and the record, this Court finds that the Report and Recommendation
applies sound legal principles to the facts of this case. Therefore, this Court adopts
all parts of the Report and Recommendation except as it pertains to the direct claim
portion of Ground One (2) of Petitioner’s petition. See ECF No. 26 at 26. The Court
finds that this portion of the petition requires further discussion. Ultimately, however,
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the Court agrees with the Magistrate Judge’s recommendation that Respondent
should be granted summary judgment on all grounds of Petitioner’s petition.
In his § 2254 petition, Petitioner raises multiple grounds on which he asserts
he is entitled to federal habeas corpus relief. Ground One (2) of Petitioner’s petition
asserts that relief should be granted because the trial judge erred by failing to
suppress Petitioner’s statement(s). ECF No. 1. The Magistrate Judge considered
this claim as both a collateral claim for ineffective assistance of counsel and also a
direct claim against the trial court for failing to suppress Petitioner’s statement(s).
See ECF No. 22. As to the collateral claim, the Magistrate Judge recommended
granting summary judgment because Petitioner procedurally defaulted this claim by
failing to raise it with the state’s highest court, and the Court adopts this
recommendation and analysis. Id. However, while the Court will grant summary
judgment to Respondent on the direct claim, the Court declines to adopt the
Magistrate Judge’s analysis on this claim.
In the Report and Recommendation, Magistrate Judge Austin, citing Stone v.
Powell, 428 U.S. 465 (1976), concluded that Petitioner was precluded from receiving
federal habeas relief on his direct claim against the trial judge for failing to suppress
Petitioner’s statement(s) because he received a full and fair opportunity to litigate this
claim in state court. ECF No. 22. In Stone, the Supreme Court held that “where the
State has provided an opportunity for full and fair litigation of a Fourth Amendment
claim, the Constitution does not require that a state prisoner be granted federal
habeas corpus relief on the ground that evidence obtained in an unconstitutional
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search or seizure was introduced at his trial.” Stone, 423 U.S. at 482. However,
claims that a statement or statements were involuntary and obtained in violation of
Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436 (1966), fall under the Fifth Amendment. See
Colorado v. Connelly, 479 U.S. 157, 169 (1986) (stating that “[t]he sole concern of the
Fifth Amendment, on which Miranda was based, is governmental coercion.”). The
Court has consistently declined to extend Stone beyond its original bounds and has
explicitly refused to apply Stone to a state prisoner’s claim that his conviction rested
on statements obtained in violation of Miranda. Withrow v. Williams, 507 U.S. 680
(1993). As such, claims that fall under the Fifth Amendment are cognizable claims
that a federal court may review in a habeas petition. See id.; see also Cardwell v.
Taylor, 461 U.S. 571, 573 (1983) (stating that habeas corpus relief could be granted
by federal courts when statements are “involuntary, and therefore obtained in
violation of the Fifth Amendment”). Accordingly, Petitioner’s direct claim under
Ground One (2) of his petition that the trial judge erred by failing to suppress
Petitioner’s statement(s) is a cognizable claim that this Court may review in this case.
Nevertheless, the Court grants Respondent summary judgment on Petitioner’s
direct claim under Ground One (2) of his petition because the claim is procedurally
barred. To obtain federal habeas relief under 28 U.S.C. § 2254, all available state
remedies must first be exhausted. 28 U.S.C. § 2254(b) (2006). State remedies are
described as “exhausted” when “they are no longer available, regardless of the
reason for their unavailability.” Woodford v. Ngo, 548 U.S. 81, 93 (2006) (citing Gray
v. Netherland, 518 U.S. 152, 161 (1996)). Here, Petitioner has “exhausted” all of his
state court remedies because no state remedies are left available to him. Petitioner
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filed his one direct appeal to the South Carolina Court of Appeals. Further, any future
post-conviction relief (“PCR”) application would be barred as successive under S.C.
Code Ann. § 17-27-90 (1985) and would also be untimely under S.C. Code Ann. §
17-27-45(A) (Supp. 2012). Thus, Petitioner’s state court remedies are technically
However, procedural default is a separate but related doctrine that may act to
bar Petitioner’s claim under Ground One (2). Procedural default applies when a
person seeking federal habeas relief failed to raise a claim at the appropriate time in
state court and has no further means of bringing that issue before the state courts.
Coleman v. Thompson, 501 U.S. 722, 750 (1991). In such a case, “federal habeas
review of the claims is barred unless the prisoner 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 will result in a fundamental
miscarriage of justice.” Id. It is a petitioner’s burden to raise cause and prejudice or
making a showing of a fundamental miscarriage of justice. Kornahrens v. Evatt, 66
F.3d 1350, 1363 (4th Cir. 1995). If such a showing is not made, the Court need not
consider the defaulted claim. Id.
Here, Respondent asserts that Petitioner’s direct claim under Ground One (2)
the trial judge erred in failing to suppress Petitioner’s statement(s) was procedurally
defaulted and barred from habeas review because it was not presented to the South
Carolina Court of Appeals on direct appeal. ECF No. 17. In fact, the only claim
raised on direct appeal was that “[t]he judge erred by overruling defense counsel’s
Batson v. Kentucky, 476 U.S. 79 (1986), motion.” ECF No. 17-6. Under South
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Carolina law, a petitioner is barred from raising a claim in a post-conviction
proceeding that has not been challenged on direct appeal. Smith v. South Carolina,
882 F.2d 895, 897 (4th Cir. 1989). Petitioner makes no showing of cause for failing to
raise this claim on direct appeal, and does not demonstrate that a fundamental
miscarriage of justice will occur if this Court does not consider the claim. See ECF
No. 1. Therefore, because Petitioner’s direct claim under Ground One (2) has been
procedurally defaulted at the state level, this Court will not consider the claim in a
IT IS THEREFORE ORDERED that Respondent’s Motion for Summary
Judgment is GRANTED and Petitioner’s § 2254 motion is DISMISSED with prejudice.
The Court declines to issue a certificate of appealability in this matter.1
IT IS SO ORDERED.
December 10, 2012
Anderson, South Carolina
When a district court issues a final ruling on a habeas petition, the court must issue or deny a
certificate of appealability. See Rule 11(a) of the Rules governing 28 U.S.C. §§ 2254 & 2255. The
Court has reviewed its order and, pursuant to Rule 11(a) of the Rules Governing Section 2254 and
Section 2255 cases, declines to issue a certificate of appealability as Petitioner has not made a
substantial showing of a denial of a constitutional right. 28 U.S.C. § 2253(c)(2); Slack v. McDaniel, 529
U.S. 473 (2003) (holding that, to satisfy § 2253(c), a “petitioner must demonstrate that reasonable
jurists would find the district court’s assessment of the constitutional claims debatable or wrong”).
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