Wilson v. Moore, CIV.A. 2:97-1040-20AJ.

CourtUnited States District Courts. 4th Circuit. United States District Court of South Carolina
Citation999 F.Supp. 783
Decision Date27 March 1998
Docket NumberNo. CIV.A. 2:97-1040-20AJ.,CIV.A. 2:97-1040-20AJ.
PartiesTeresa Ann WILSON, # 168081, Petitioner, v. Michael MOORE, Commissioner of SCDC; and Charles Molony Condon, Attorney General of the State of South Carolina, Respondents.

David I. Bruck, Columbia, SC, for Petitioner.

Donald J. Zelenka and Robert F. Daley, Jr., Office of the Attorney General, Columbia, SC, for Respondents.


HERLONG, District Judge.

This matter is before the court with the Report and Recommendation of the United States Magistrate Judge, made in accordance with 28 U.S.C. § 636(b) and Local Rule 19.02 DSC.1 Teresa Ann Wilson ("Wilson"), a state prisoner, seeks federal habeas corpus relief pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. Wilson filed her petition on April 21, 1997. The Respondents filed a motion for summary judgment on June 18, 1997. Wilson responded with a memorandum opposing the motion on August 8, 1997. In his Report and Recommendation, the Honorable Robert S. Carr recommends that the court grant the motion. For the reasons stated below, this court accepts the Magistrate Judge's recommendation and grants the Respondents' motion.

A. Procedural and Factual Background

The Grand Jury of South Carolina indicted Wilson; her husband, Ronnie Wilson; and several members of the Wilson family on numerous drug-related charges. Wilson and her husband retained Douglas S. Strickler ("Strickler") as their attorney. On May 1, 1990, following a week-long trial, a jury found Wilson and her husband guilty of two counts of conspiring to traffick cocaine and marijuana and one count of the actual trafficking of cocaine. The state court sentenced Wilson and her husband to twenty-five (25) years in prison.

Wilson appealed her conviction and sentence by raising ten separate faults with her criminal trial.2 On July 19, 1993, the Supreme Court of South Carolina affirmed the two conspiracy convictions. See State v. Wilson, 315 S.C. 289, 433 S.E.2d 864 (1993). However, the state court vacated the trafficking conviction because the state grand jury did not have subject matter jurisdiction over that charge. Id. Wilson asked the Supreme Court of South Carolina to rehear the matter. On August 17, 1993, the court denied her request.

On October 15, 1993, Wilson filed an application for post-conviction relief ("PCR"), alleging several grounds. Wilson argued that she was unlawfully sentenced, that her counsel was ineffective, and that her counsel operated out of a conflict of interest by representing both her and her husband. On July 20, 1994, Wilson's new counsel amended her PCR application to assert that her right to counsel was violated by Strickler's joint representation of Wilson and her husband at trial. Furthermore, Wilson's amendment stated that she did not knowingly waive her right to separate counsel. The South Carolina PCR court allowed the amendment.

A South Carolina Court of Common Pleas heard Wilson's request for PCR on July 20, 1994, with testimony from both Wilson and Strickler. Wilson testified "concerning the abuse and domination that characterized her marriage before and during trial." (Pet.'s for State Writ of Habeas Corpus at 12.) Furthermore, Wilson stated that it was this abuse that led her to agree to Strickler's joint representation of her and her husband. On March 31, 1995, the Honorable L. Casey Manning dismissed Wilson's PCR application.3 Wilson notified the PCR court of her intent to appeal its ruling on May 4, 1995. Wilson filed a petition for a writ of certiorari to the Supreme Court of South Carolina based on two issues: (1) the denial of Wilson's right to counsel due to Strickler's joint representation of Wilson and her husband; and (2) the ineffectiveness of her waiver of Strickler's conflict of interest. The Supreme Court of South Carolina denied Wilson's petition on February 22, 1996.

As noted above, Wilson filed the instant petition on April 21, 1997. Attached to her petition were several affidavits and a psychiatric report that had not been submitted to the South Carolina courts.4 On October 2, 1997, after reviewing the Respondents' motion for summary judgment, Magistrate Judge Carr ordered the parties to brief the court on the issue of whether the federal courts could review the newly filed affidavits and psychiatric report. Prior to a ruling by Magistrate Judge Carr, in November of 1997, Wilson filed a petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus in the original jurisdiction of the Supreme Court of South Carolina seeking its consideration of the new documents.5 The Supreme Court of South Carolina denied this petition on December 22, 1997. Magistrate Judge Carr issued his Report and Recommendation without considering the new evidence, and recommended the denial of Wilson's petition.

B. Grounds for Habeas Corpus Relief

Wilson's federal habeas petition argues for her release based on two related grounds:

Petitioner was denied her Sixth and Fourteenth Amendment right to the effective assistance of counsel because she was represented at trial by the same attorney who also represented her co-defendant husband, and because she did not validly waive her right to conflict-free representation.

(Pet. for Writ of Habeas Corpus at 6.) Wilson attempts to supplement the facts presented in the underlying state actions with several affidavits and a medical report on her psychiatric and emotional condition. The thrust of Wilson's argument is that she was intimidated into using her husband's trial counsel because of a history of spousal abuse. Though Wilson presented these issues to the state PCR court, she supported them only with her own testimony. The sworn affidavits and psychiatric report attest to Wilson's history and condition as a battered wife.


Wilson filed her petition for federal habeas corpus relief in this court on April 21, 1997. As such, the provisions of the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act ("AEDPA") of 1996 govern the court's resolution of her case.6 Therefore, the court will first present the posture of this case under the AEDPA. The court will then decide the merits of the Respondents' motion.

A. 28 U.S.C. § 2254

Generally, federal courts must deny habeas relief to a state prisoner whose claim was decided on the merits in the state courts. 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d) (1997). Unlike federal habeas corpus analysis under the pre-AEDPA law, "[t]he focus of federal court review is now the state court decision that previously addressed the claims rather than the petitioner's freestanding claims themselves." McLee v. Angelone, 967 F.Supp. 152, 156 (E.D.Va.1997). State prisoners may obtain federal habeas relief if they show the state's decision was: (1) against "clearly established Federal law;" or (2) "based on an unreasonable determination of the facts in light of the evidence presented in the State court proceeding." 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d)(1)-(2). As stated above, the South Carolina PCR court heard the two related claims that Wilson brings in the instant action: (1) denial of effective assistance of counsel at trial due to her sharing an attorney with her husband; and (2) an involuntary waiver of her right to conflict-free legal representation. The PCR court dismissed Wilson's claims. The Supreme Court of South Carolina denied her request to review the PCR court's decision. Therefore, Wilson must convince this court that the South Carolina courts failed to properly apply the tenets of federal law or that the state courts' decisions were unreasonable.

Wilson's petition challenges both points under section 2254(d). First, Wilson contends that the decision of the PCR court, and the recommendation of the Magistrate Judge, fail to recognize a clear violation of her federal right to effective assistance of counsel. (Pet.'s Resp. to Mot. for Summ. J. at 1-5; Pet.'s Objs. to the Rep. & Rec. at 6-14.) Furthermore, Wilson charges that the state PCR court and the Magistrate Judge's recommendation are not reasonable under the facts presented to the state courts. (Pet.'s Reply to Resps.' Supp. Mem. of Law at 5-6; Pet.'s Objs. to the Rep. & Rec. at 1-5.) Before the court can consider the merits of Wilson's petition, it must first determine what evidence in support of her claim is properly before this court.

B. Wilson's New Evidence
1. Consideration of new evidence by South Carolina's courts

The court cannot review Wilson's new affidavits and psychiatric evidence. Congress has decided that a federal habeas corpus court must judge the reasonableness of the state court decision "in light of the evidence presented in the State court proceeding." 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d)(2) (emphasis added). The first issue before the court is whether or not the South Carolina courts effectively considered the new affidavits and psychiatric report in denying Wilson's pleas for post-conviction relief. This evidence was never before any South Carolina court until Wilson's petition for a writ of habeas corpus before the Supreme Court of South Carolina last November. Therefore, this court must now determine if the Supreme Court of South Carolina considered the merits of Wilson's claim in light of the new evidence, or whether the court refused to view the new evidence and disposed of her writ through a state procedural bar.

The Supreme Court of South Carolina's denial of Wilson's petition for a writ of habeas corpus was based on a state procedural bar. This court may not review a state court's decision "if the decision of that court rests on a state law ground that is independent of the federal question and adequate to support the judgment." Coleman v. Thompson, 501 U.S. 722, 729, 111 S.Ct. 2546, 115 L.Ed.2d 640 (1991). In some instances, "there is a presumption in habeas that a state court's dismissal of a petition for collateral relief does not rest on an independent and adequate state ground and that the state court has rejected the...

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    • United States
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    ..."Any issue which could have been raised in the initial state PCR action cannot be raised in a second PCR action." Wilson v. Moore, 999 F.Supp. 783, 789 (D.S.C.1998) (citing Arnold v. State, 309 S.C. 157, 420 S.E.2d 834, 842-43 (1992)). An applicant cannot "circumvent this rule and file a su......
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    ...expand the record because it cannot consider evidence in a habeas proceeding that was not before the state courts. See Wilson v. Moore, 999 F.Supp. 783, 791 (D.S.C.1998) (habeas petitioner precluded from presenting additional evidence in a federal habeas corpus proceeding, not presented to ......
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