United States District Court, E.D. North Carolina, Western Division
C. DEVER III UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
12, 2017, Marlow Williams ("Williams" or
"plaintiff), a state prisoner proceeding pro se, filed a
first amended complaint against Erik Hooks ("Hooks"
or "defendant") and Robert Evans ("Evans"
or "defendant"; collectively,
"defendants"), alleging various claims pursuant to
42 U.S.C. § 1983 concerning his continued imprisonment
[D.E. 3-1]. On April 4, 2018, defendants moved for summary
judgment [D.E. 26], and filed a memorandum in support [D.E.
27] and a statement of material facts [D.E. 28]. On April 13,
2018, Williams moved for leave to file an amended motion for
summary judgment and filed various documents in support [D.E.
30]. On April 26, 2018, Williams responded in opposition to
defendants' motion for summary judgment [D.E. 31], and
filed a statement of material facts [D.E. 32] and appendix
[D.E. 33]. On May 10, 2018, defendants replied [D.E. 37].
February 7, 2019, Magistrate Judge Numbers issued a
Memorandum and Recommendation ("M&R") [D.E.
46], and recommended granting defendants' motion for
summary judgment, denying Williams's motion for summary
judgment, and dismissing Williams's complaint On February
25, 2019, Williams objected to the M&R [D.E. 47].
Federal Magistrates Act requires a district court to make a
de novo determination of those portions of the magistrate
judge's report or specified proposed findings or
recommendations to which objection is made." Diamond
v. Colonial Life & Accident Ins. Co., 416 F.3d 310,
315 (4th Cir. 2005) (emphasis, alteration, and quotation
omitted); see 28 U.S.C. § 636(b). Absent a timely
objection, "a district court need not conduct a de novo
review, but instead must only satisfy itself that there is no
clear error on the face of the record in order to accept the
recommendation." Diamond, 416 F.3d at 315
objections reiterate arguments stated in his complaint and
summary judgment motion and do not meaningfully rebut the
M&R. Compare M&R [D.E. 46] 6-10,
with [D.E. 3-1] and [D.E.30-1]. Accordingly, de novo
review is not required. See, e.g., Wells v.
Shriners Hosp., 109F.3d 198, 200-01 (4th Cir. 1997).
Because there is no clear error on the face of the record,
the court accepts the recommendations in the M&R.
Williams's objections fail. On July 23, 1993, Williams
was convicted in state court of first-degree murder and
robbery with a dangerous weapon. See [D.E. 28] ¶ 1; Am.
Cmpl. [D.E. 3-1] 5. A state court sentenced Williams to
consecutive terms of life imprisonment and 40 years'
imprisonment for these offenses. See [D.E. 28] ¶¶
1-2. On January 22, 2013, Williams received a letter stating
that he will never commence his 40-year sentence for robbery
with a dangerous weapon because it is consecutive to his life
sentence for first-degree murder. See Id. ¶ 4;
[D.E. 3-2] 9. The letter informed Williams that, unless he
received parole on his first-degree murder sentence, he would
remain in prison serving that sentence until he died. See
[D.E. 28] ¶ 4.
January 13, 2015, Williams filed a grievance concerning
commencement of his 40-year sentence for robbery with a
dangerous weapon. See [D.E. 3-2] 1-8. The North Carolina Post
Release and Parole Commission ("the Commission")
denied Williams's request. On April 15, 2015, Williams
filed a complaint in state court, alleging that
defendants' predecessors disregarded commencement of his
second sentence. See [D.E. 28] ¶ 5; Am. Cmpl. [D.E. 3-1]
4-5. Williams litigated his claims in the North Carolina
Court of Appeals, which affirmed the trial court's grant
of summary judgment to defendants. See Williams v.
Perry, 794 S.E.2d 557, 2016 WL 7100600, ( N.C. Ct. App.
2016) (unpublished table decision). The Supreme Court of
North Carolina denied further review of Williams's
claims. See Williams v. Perry, 369 N.C. 522, 797
S.E.2d 296 (2017).
April 28, 2017, Williams filed his complaint in this court
[D.E. 1]. Williams raises the same arguments that he raised
in state court. See Compl. [D.E. 1] 5-8; Am. Compl. [D.E.
3-1] 7-13. Accordingly, the doctrines of claim and issue
preclusion bar Williams's claims. See Allen v.
McCurry, 449 U.S. 90, 95-96 (1980); Sartin v.
Macik, 535 F.3d 284, 287-88 (4th Cir. 2008);
Davenport v. N.C. Dep't of Transp., 3 F.3d 89,
92-93 (4th Cir. 1993); Thomas M. McInnis to. Assocs.,
Inc. v. Hall, 318 N.C. 421, 434, 349 S.E.2d 552, 557,
Williams essentially requests this court to exercise
appellate review of a state court decision. Generally,
federal district courts have "no authority to review
final judgments of a state court in judicial
proceedings." D.C. Court of Appeals v. Feldman,
460 U.S. 462, 482 (1983); see Rooker v. Fid. Tr.
Co., 263 U.S. 413, 415-16 (1923). The
Rooker-Feldman doctrine prohibits a "party
losing in state court . . . from seeking what in substance
would be appellate review of the state judgment in a United
States district court, based on the losing party's claim
that the state judgment itself violates the loser's
federal rights." Johnson v. De Grandy, 512 U.S.
997, 1005-06 (1994); see Exxon Mobil Corp. v. Saudi Basic
Indus. Corp., 544 U.S. 280, 284 (2005);
Feldman, 460 U.S. at 476; Thana v. BH of License
Comm'rs for Charles Cty., 827 F.3d 314, 318-20
(4th Cir. 2016); Washington v Wilmore,
407 F.3d 274, 279-80 (4th Cir. 2005). For the doctrine to
apply, the party seeking relief in federal court must be
asking the federal court to "reverse or modify the state
court decree." Adkins v. Rumsfeld, 464 F.3d
456, 464 (4th Cir. 2006) (quotation omitted); see
Thana, 827 F.3d at 318-20. A party "may not
escape the jurisdictional bar of Rooker-Feldman by
merely refashioning its attack on the state court judgments
as a [section] 1983 claim." Jordahl v. Democratic
Part of Va., 122 F.3d 192, 202 (4th Cir. 1997). Thus,
this court lacks jurisdiction over Williams's claims.
Williams fails to state a claim upon which relief can be
granted. Because there is no right to parole as a matter of
federal law, inmates have a liberty interest in parole
decisions only "where the state has created a legitimate
claim of entitlement to some aspect of parole." Vann
v. Angelone, 73 F.3d 519, 522 (4th Cir. 1996) (quotation
omitted); see Burnette v. Fahey, 687 F.3d 171,
180-81 (4th Cir. 2012); Gaston v. Taylor, 946 F.2d
340, 344 (4th Cir. 1991) (en banc). Assuming without deciding
that Williams possesses a liberty interest, Williams's
state court proceedings have provided Williams with
sufficient procedural due process in the parole context. See
Vann, 73 F.3d at 522: Spaulding v. N. C. Parole
Comm'n, No. 5:15-HC-2307-FL, 2017 WL 979022, at *2
(E.D. N.C. Mar. 13, 2017) (unpublished). Thus, Williams's
claims fail on the merits.
the court OVERRULES Williams's objections [D.E. 47],
ADOPTS the conclusions in the M&R [D.E. 46], GRANTS
defendants' motion for summary judgment [D.E. 26], DENIES
Williams's motion for summary judgment [D.E. 30], and