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Lambert v. White

United States District Court, W.D. North Carolina, Asheville Division

September 29, 2014

STEVEN E. LAMBERT, Petitioner,
v.
SUSAN WHITE, Respondent.

ORDER

FRANK D. WHITNEY, Chief District Judge.

THIS MATTER is before the Court on consideration of Respondent's motion for summary judgment on the claims presented by Petitioner in his pro se petition for a writ of habeas corpus, filed pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. For the reasons that follow, Respondent's motion will be granted and Petitioner's Section 2254 petition will be denied and dismissed.

I. BACKGROUND

Petitioner is a prisoner of the State of North Carolina following his conviction in Haywood County Superior Court on one count of trafficking at least 14 but less than 28 grams of narcotics. Petitioner was represented by counsel when he entered into a plea agreement with the State which provided that in exchange for his guilty plea, five other charges for controlled substance offenses would be dismissed. (Doc. No. 10-4: Tr. of Plea at 28-31). On November 28, 2011, the State court accepted Petitioner's guilty plea and sentenced Petitioner according to the terms of his plea agreement to an active term of 90-117 months in prison and he did not appeal his criminal judgment. (Id. at 59).

On June 8, 2012, Petitioner filed a pro se motion for appropriate relief (MAR) in the Haywood County Superior Court for relief from his criminal judgment based on claims that this Fourth Amendment rights were violated in a search of his vehicle, that the State failed to disclose Brady materials that could have aided in his defense, and he raised a claim of ineffective assistance of counsel. (Doc. No. 10-2: MAR). Petitioner's MAR was denied and the North Carolina Court of Appeals denied his petition for a writ of certiorari. This federal habeas proceeding follows and Petitioner's contentions will be addressed below.

II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

A. Summary Judgment

Summary judgment is appropriate where there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact, and it appears that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(2); United States v. Lee, 943 F.2d 366, 368 (4th Cir. 1991). Any permissible inferences to be drawn from the underlying facts must be viewed in the light most favorable to the party opposing the motion. Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co., Ltd. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587-88 (1986). Where, however, the record taken as a whole could not lead a rational trier of fact to find for the non-moving party, summary judgment is appropriate. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248-49 (1986).

B. Section 2254

In addition to the motion for summary judgment standard set forth above, this Court must also consider the requirements set forth in 28 U.S.C. § 2254, which provides in relevant part, that an application for a writ of habeas corpus on behalf of a person in custody pursuant to the judgment of a State court shall not be granted with respect to any claim that was adjudicated on the merits in State court proceedings unless the adjudication of the claim-

(1) resulted in a decision that was contrary to, or involved an unreasonable application of, clearly established Federal law, as determined by the Supreme Court of the United States; or
(2) resulted in a decision that was 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); see also Tice v. Johnson, 647 F.3d 87, 103 (4th Cir. 2011).

A claim is considered "adjudicated on the merits" when it is "substantively reviewed and finally determined as evidenced by the state court's issuance of a formal judgment or decree..." Young v. Catoe, 205 F.3d 750, 755 n.2 (4th Cir. 2000) (quoting Thomas v. Davis, 192 F.3d 445, 455 (4th Cir. 1999)). A state court's adjudication is "contrary to" clearly established federal law only if "the state court arrives at a conclusion opposite to that reached by [the United States Supreme] Court on a question of law or if the state court decides a case differently than [the United States Supreme] Court has on a set of materially indistinguishable facts." Williams v. Taylor, 529 U.S. 362, 412-13 (2000). "It is not enough for us to say that, confronted with the same facts, we would have applied the law differently; we can accord [the petitioner] a remedy only by concluding that the state court's application of the law in his case was objectively unreasonable." See Tice, 647 F.3d at 103 (citing Williams v. Ozmint, 494 F.3d 478, 483-84 (4th Cir. 2007)). "[W]e will not discern an ...


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