Mangal v. Warden, Perry Corr. Inst.

Decision Date08 April 2019
Docket NumberCivil Action No.: 6:18-cv-00106-RBH
PartiesFarid Ahmad Mangal, a/k/a Farid Ahmad Maugal, Petitioner, v. Warden, Perry Correctional Institution, Respondent.
CourtU.S. District Court — District of South Carolina

Petitioner Farid Ahmad Mangal, a state prisoner proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis, has filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. See ECF No. 1. The matter is before the Court for consideration of Petitioner's objections to the Report and Recommendation ("R & R") of United States Magistrate Judge Kevin F. McDonald, who recommends granting Respondent's motion for summary judgment and denying Petitioner's § 2254 petition.1 See ECF Nos. 52 & 59. The Court adopts in part and rejects in part the R & R for the reasons explained herein.


The State of South Carolina indicted Petitioner for criminal sexual conduct with a minor, lewd act upon a child, and incest, alleging he sexually abused his daughter from ages ten to sixteen. See generally ECF No. 20-39 (indictments and warrants). Petitioner proceeded to trial in 2007 and was represented by attorney Lawrence W. Crane ("trial counsel"); the jury found him guilty of all charges;and the trial court sentenced him to thirty years in prison.3 See App.4 1-555. Petitioner filed a direct appeal, and the South Carolina Court of Appeals summarily affirmed his convictions and sentences in an unpublished opinion. See ECF Nos. 20-11 through 20-16. The South Carolina Supreme Court denied certiorari to review the Court of Appeals' decision. See ECF Nos. 20-17 through 20-20.

Petitioner then filed a pro se application for post-conviction relief ("PCR") in state court. See App. 557-62. In April 2011, the PCR court held an evidentiary hearing at which Petitioner—represented by attorney J. Falkner Wilkes ("PCR counsel")—and trial counsel testified. App. 568-615. The PCR court denied and dismissed Petitioner's application in a written order. App. 616-622; ECF No. 20-21. Petitioner filed a motion to alter or amend pursuant to Rule 59(e) of the South Carolina Rules of Civil Procedure, App. 623-33, and the PCR court issued a written order denying the motion. App. 639-40. Petitioner appealed, and the South Carolina Court of Appeals reversed the PCR court's decision and remanded the case for a new trial. App. 680-88; see Mangal v. State, 781 S.E.2d 732 (S.C. Ct. App. 2015) ("Mangal I") (holding trial counsel was ineffective for not objecting to improper bolstering testimony). However, the South Carolina Supreme Court granted the State's petition for a writ of certiorari, found Petitioner's PCR claim was procedurally defaulted, reversed the Court of Appeals' decision, and reinstated the PCR court's decision. ECF No. 20-34; see Mangal v. State, 805 S.E.2d 568 (S.C. 2017) ("Mangal II") (finding it inappropriate to excuse Petitioner's procedural default).

Petitioner then filed the instant pro se petition for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. See ECF No. 1. Respondent answered by filing a return and a motion for summary judgment. See ECF Nos. 20 & 21. Petitioner filed a response in opposition to Respondent's motion. See ECF No. 34. The Magistrate Judge issued an R & R recommending that the Court grant Respondent's motion and deny Petitioner's § 2254 petition. See R & R [ECF No. 52]. Petitioner filed timely objections to the R & R. See Pet.'s Objs. [ECF No. 59]. Respondent did not respond to Petitioner's objections.

Legal Standards
I. Review of the Magistrate Judge's R & R

The Magistrate Judge makes only a recommendation to the Court. The Magistrate Judge's recommendation has no presumptive weight, and the responsibility to make a final determination remains with the Court. Mathews v. Weber, 423 U.S. 261, 270-71 (1976). The Court must conduct a de novo review of those portions of the R & R to which specific objections are made, and it 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); Fed. R. Civ. P. 72(b).

The Court must engage in a de novo review of every portion of the Magistrate Judge's report to which objections have been filed. Id. However, the Court need not conduct a de novo review when a party makes only "general and conclusory objections that do not direct the [C]ourt to a specific error in the [M]agistrate [Judge]'s proposed findings and recommendations." Orpiano v. Johnson, 687 F.2d 44, 47 (4th Cir. 1982). In the absence of specific objections to the R & R, the Court reviews only for clear error, Diamond v. Colonial Life & Acc. Ins. Co., 416 F.3d 310, 315 (4th Cir. 2005), and the Court need not give any explanation for adopting the Magistrate Judge's recommendation. Camby v. Davis, 718 F.2d 198, 199-200 (4th Cir. 1983).

II. Summary Judgment

"The court shall grant summary judgment if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(a); see generally Rule 12 of the Rules Governing Section 2254 Cases ("The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure . . . , to the extent that they are not inconsistent with any statutory provisions or these rules, may be applied to a proceeding under these rules."); Brandt v. Gooding, 636 F.3d 124, 132 (4th Cir. 2011) ("Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56 'applies to habeas proceedings.'" (quoting Maynard v. Dixon, 943 F.2d 407, 412 (4th Cir. 1991))). "A party asserting that a fact cannot be or is genuinely disputed must support the assertion by: (A) citing to particular parts of materials in the record . . . ; or (B) showing that the materials cited do not establish the absence or presence of a genuine dispute, or that an adverse party cannot produce admissible evidence to support the fact." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c)(1). "The evidence must be viewed in the light most favorable to the non-moving party, with all reasonable inferences drawn in that party's favor. The court therefore cannot weigh the evidence or make credibility determinations." Reyazuddin v. Montgomery Cty., 789 F.3d 407, 413 (4th Cir. 2015) (internal citation and quotation marks omitted).


Petitioner alleges trial counsel was ineffective by failing to object to and by eliciting testimony that improperly bolstered the victim's credibility.5 The Magistrate Judge recommends granting Respondent's motion for summary judgment because Petitioner's claims are procedurally defaulted andbecause the default cannot be excused under Martinez v. Ryan, 566 U.S. 1 (2012). See R & R at pp. 17-39. Petitioner specifically objects to the Magistrate Judge's recommendation that his default cannot be excused under Martinez, and he requests an evidentiary hearing on his Martinez claims. See Pet.'s Objs. at pp. 2-9.

I. Applicable Law
A. Procedural Default & The Martinez Exception

"Before seeking federal habeas review of a claim, a petitioner ordinarily must raise that claim in the state court, complying with state procedural rules and exhausting available state remedies." Gray v. Zook, 806 F.3d 783, 797-98 (4th Cir. 2015). "[I]f a claim is exhausted in state court and not procedurally defaulted, then it was adjudicated on the merits and is subject to review under the deferential standards set forth in [28 U.S.C.] § 2254(d)." Id.6

However, "[u]nder the well-established doctrine of procedural default, a federal habeas court may not review a claim that a state court has found to be clearly and expressly defaulted under an independent and adequate state procedural rule unless the prisoner can demonstrate [1] cause for the default and prejudice resulting therefrom or [2] that a failure to consider the claims will result in a fundamental miscarriage of justice." Juniper v. Zook, 876 F.3d 551, 565 n.6 (4th Cir. 2017).

In Martinez, the U.S. Supreme Court held that "[i]nadequate 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." 566 U.S. at 9. "Martinez is an exception that enables habeaspetitioners to obtain merits review of otherwise procedurally defaulted claims under certain circumstances." Teleguz v. Zook, 806 F.3d 803, 815 (4th Cir. 2015).7

When a state—such as South Carolina8—limits ineffective-assistance-of-trial-counsel claims to collateral review, a petitioner may invoke Martinez if he can demonstrate (1) that state PCR counsel "was ineffective under the standards of Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668 (1984)," and (2) that the underlying ineffective-assistance-of-trial-counsel claim is "substantial." Buck v. Davis, 137 S. Ct. 759, 771 (2017); see Porter v. Zook, 898 F.3d 408, 438 (4th Cir. 2018). The Fourth Circuit has expounded on the requirement of a "substantial" claim:

Regarding the requirement that there be a "substantial" claim, the Supreme Court held that a prisoner must "demonstrate that the underlying ineffective-assistance-of-trial-counsel claim is a substantial one, which is to say that the prisoner must demonstrate that the claim has some merit." Martinez, 132 S. Ct. at 1318. Relatedly, to show ineffective assistance, the petitioner must make a "substantial" showing with respect to both counsel's competency (first-prong Strickland) and prejudice (second-prong Strickland).
As to the specific elements of the ineffective assistance claim, a petitioner must make a substantial showing of incompetency, i.e., that counsel made errors so serious that counsel was not functioning as the counsel guaranteed by the Sixth Amendment. Further, the petitioner must make a substantial showing that counsel's errors were so serious as to deprive the defendant of a fair trial, a trial whoseresult is reliable, i.e., that there was a substantial, not just conceivable, likelihood of a different result.

Teleguz, 806 F.3d at 815 (ellipsis, some internal quotation marks, and some internal citations...

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