Gonzalez v. Sterling et al
ORDER AND OPINION adopting Report and Recommendations of Magistrate Judge Bristow Marchant; granting 19 Motion for Summary Judgment; denying 29 Motion for Extension of Time to File Response/Reply. Signed by Honorable Richard M Gergel on 3/9/2017.(cwhi, )
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
DISTRICT OF SOUTH CAROLINA
Civil Action No. 9: 16-895-RMG
Brian Sterling, Director ofSouth Carolina
Department ofCorrections; Michael
Stobbe, Branch ChiefofInmate Records,
ORDER AND OPINION
This matter is before the Court on the Report and Recommendation of the Magistrate
Judge, recommending summary judgment for Defendants. Also before the Court is Plaintiffs
motion for an extension oftime in which to respond to Defendants' motion for summary judgment.
For the reasons set forth below, the Court denies the motion for an extension, adopts the Report
and Recommendation, grants summary judgment for Defendants.
Plaintiff alleges that he is presently imprisoned within the South Carolina Department of
Corrections ("SCDC") under criminal convictions returned in Horry County and in Sumter
County. Plaintiff alleges that on August 24,2010, the Defendant Stobbe, SCDC's Branch Chief
of Inmate Records, testified during an evidentiary hearing that an error had been discovered with
respect to Plaintiff's sentence, and that the Department of Corrections had determined that
Plaintiffs release date on his Horry County conviction should be February 2010, not January 18,
2020, as it was at that time listed in SCDC records. Plaintiff further alleges that the state court
concluded after that hearing that Plaintiff was entitled to have his release date on his Horry County
sentence corrected, and that Stobbe was to do so, if he had not already done so. Plaintiff alleges
that his release date was never corrected, and that Defendant Stobbe instead "maliciously" changed
the start date of his Horry County sentence. Plaintiff alleges that his Sumter County sentence was
concurrent with his Horry County sentence, and had expired at the time of the state court's order.
He therefore should have been released from custody, and is currently being "illegally
Defendant Stobbe avers that he was made aware of an issue with the calculation of
Plaintiff s release date for his Horry County sentence in January 2010, and that the release date
was then adjusted by SCDC records personnel in March 2011 and March 2012 to show the correct
date. Stobbe further avers that due to the mandatory minimum 25 year term of imprisonment
imposed in Plaintiffs Sumter County conviction, his release date for the Sumter County sentence
is September 19, 2019, regardless of the expiration of Plaintiffs Horry County sentence in
On March 21, 2016, Plaintiff filed this action seeking monetary damages against the
Defendants for violating his constitutional rights, as well as injunctive relief requiring his release
from custody. Defendants moved for summary judgment on December 5,2016. (Dkt. No. 19.)
Plaintiffs response was due on January 9,2017. On January 17,2017, Plaintiff moved for a 60
day extension of time for his response. (Dkt. No. 23.) The Court granted his motion in part,
granting a 30-day extension to February 10,2017. (Dkt. No. 24.) The Court noted that extension
would give Plaintiff a total of 60 days in which to respond to Defendant's motion, and that no
further extensions are juditified. (rd.) Plaintiff filed no response and on February 16,2017, the
Magistrate Judge recommended granting Defendants' motion for summary judgment. (Dkt. No.
27.) Plaintiffs objections were due by March 6, 2017. Plaintiff filed no objections; however, on
March 6, 2017, the Court received a motion (postmarked March 3, 2017) seeking a 60-day
extension of time in which to respond to Defendants' motion for summary judgment. (Dkt. No.
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. Mathews v. Weber, 423 U.S. 261 (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. The Court may accept, reject, or modify, in whole or in part, the recommendation of the
Magistrate Judge. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1).
When a proper objection is made to a particular issue, "a district court is required to
consider all arguments directed to that issue, regardless of whether they were raised before the
magistrate." United States v. George, 971 F.2d 1113, 1118 (4th Cir. 1992). However, "[t]he
district court's decision whether to consider additional evidence is committed to its discretion, and
any refusal will be reviewed for abuse." Doe v. Chao, 306 F.3d 170, 183 & n.9 (4th Cir. 2002).
"[A]ttempts to introduce new evidence after the magistrate judge has acted are disfavored," though
the district court may allow it "when a party offers sufficient reasons for so doing." Caldwell v.
Jackson, 831 F. Supp. 2d 911, 914 (M.D.N.C. 2010) (listing cases).
As a preliminary matter, the Court denies Plaintiffs motion for an extension of time to file
a response to Defendants' motion for summary judgment. Plaintiff was given 60 days in which to
file a response, it has now been over 90 days since Defendants' moved for summary judgment and
Plaintiff has yet to respond, and when the Court granted in part his previous motion for an
extension it told Plaintiff that no further extensions would be justified. Plaintiff has not attempted
to show good cause for his non-compliance with the Court's scheduling orders.
The Court agrees with the analysis of the Magistrate Judge and grants summary judgment
for Defendants. Plaintiff may not seek release from prison as relief in a § 1983 action. Heck v.
Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477, 481 (1994). As the Magistrate Judge notes, Plaintiff has in fact sought
habeas relief in this Court on this specific claim. See Gonzalez v. Eagleton, Civ. No. 9:15-3386
(D.S.C.). Because that was petitioner's third habeas petition, Petitioner asked the Court to dismiss
it without prejudice so he could permission to file a successive petition from the United States
Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. The Court granted his request, but he has not since sought
permission to file a successive petition. The Fourth Circuit denied his previous request in 2007
for permission to file a successive petition. See In re Gonzalez, No. 07-151 (4th Cir. Apr. 24,
Nor may Plaintiff seek monetary damages from prison officials for an allegedly
unconstitutional term of imprisonment that has not been invalidated. Heck, 512 U.S at 486-87.
Plaintiff's sentence has not been invalidated by any state or federal court.
For the foregoing reasons, the Court DENIES Plaintiff's motion for an extension (Dkt. No.
29), ADOPTS the Report and Recommendation ofthe Magistrate Judge (Dkt. No. 27) as the Order
of the Court, and GRANTS Defendants' motion for summary judgment (Dkt. No. 19).
AND IT IS SO ORDERED.
United States District Court Judge
Charleston, South Carolina
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