United States District Court, N.D. Alabama, Western Division
MADELINE HUGHES HAIKALA, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
August 15, 2019, the magistrate judge entered a report in
which she recommended that the Court deny the claims that Mr.
James presented in his pro se petition for writ of
habeas corpus. (Doc. 22). The magistrate judge also
recommended denial of a certificate of appealability. (Doc.
22, pp. 21-22). On September 18, 2019, Mr. James filed
objections to the report and recommendation. (Doc. 25).
district court “may accept, reject, or modify, in whole
or part, the findings or recommendations made by the
magistrate judge.” 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(C). When
a party objects to a report and recommendation, the district
court must “make a de novo determination of those
portions of the report or specified proposed findings or
recommendations to which objection is made.”
Id. The Court reviews for plain error proposed
factual findings to which no objection is made, and the Court
reviews propositions of law de novo. Garvey v.
Vaughn, 993 F.2d 776, 779 n.9 (11th Cir. 1993); see
also United States v. Slay, 714 F.2d 1093, 1095 (11th
Cir. 1983) (per curiam), cert. denied, 464 U.S. 1050
(1984) (“The failure to object to the
magistrate’s findings of fact prohibits an attack on
appeal of the factual findings adopted by the district court
except on grounds of plain error or manifest
injustice.”) (internal citation omitted); Macort v.
Prem, Inc., 208 Fed.Appx. 781, 784 (11th Cir. 2006).
objections, Mr. James argues that the magistrate judge
misapplied 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d)(1) in finding that he
waited too long to file his petition and that the magistrate
judge was biased in raising the issue sua sponte.
(Doc. 25, pp. 1-4). The magistrate judge properly found that
she could raise the statute of limitations issue sua
sponte. (Doc. 22, p. 12). Mr. James concedes the point.
(Doc. 25, p. 4). There is nothing in the record that suggests
that bias prompted the magistrate judge to raise the issue
sua sponte. (See Doc. 25, pp. 3-4).
Therefore, the Court overrules Mr. James’s objection in
magistrate judge’s analysis of the application of
AEDPA’s one-year limitation period rests on statutory
tolling language which provides that the time during which
“a properly filed application for State
post-conviction or other collateral review” tolls the
one-year period while the properly filed application is
pending. 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d)(2) (emphasis added). In his
objections, Mr. James does not take issue with the statutory
requirement for tolling. He argues instead that the state
appeal process became final “when the State Appeals
Court entered its Certificate of Judgment on July 31, 2013,
” so that the magistrate judge’s calculation of
the one-year period was off by 18 days, and his petition was
timely. (Doc. 25, pp. 1-2, 6). The Court need not reach the
ultimate calculation of the one-year period because the
magistrate judge properly concluded that Mr. James’s
claims of ineffective assistance of counsel fail. Therefore,
the Court overrules Mr. James’s objections to the
calculation of AEDPA’s one-year limitation period as
objections, Mr. James restates his arguments that his trial
counsel was ineffective by failing to object to the
State’s motion in limine concerning the victim’s
mother’s conviction for physical abuse of the victim
and waiving Mr. James’s right to be present during the
hearing on the State’s motion in limine. (Doc. 25, pp.
4-5). Mr. James asserts that he met the two-prong test for
ineffective assistance of counsel articulated in
Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668 (1984).
hearing during which Mr. James was represented by counsel and
testified as a witness, the sentencing court denied Mr.
James’s claims for ineffective assistance of counsel
because he did not demonstrate that if his attorney had done
more to oppose the motion in limine, the sentencing court
would have denied the motion in limine. (Doc. 10-19, p. 6).
The Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed, concluding
that Mr. James failed to establish either prong of
Strickland. (Doc. 10-19, pp. 8-10). The appellate
court found that Mr. James failed to carry his burden because
during the evidentiary hearing on his Rule 32 motion, he did
not present a copy of the motion in limine or evidence
concerning what trial counsel did or should have done to
prevail on the motion. (Doc. 10-19, pp. 8, 10). The appellate
court also found that during the hearing on Mr. James’s
Rule 32 petition, Mr. James did not present evidence
regarding the way in which his absence from the motion in
limine hearing may have affected the trial court’s
ruling or what he could have said or done to defeat the
motion had he been present at the hearing. (Doc. 10-19, pp.
8, 10). The appellate court held that trial counsel’s
failure to inform Mr. James of the hearing or to ensure his
presence there was insufficient to show trial counsel was
ineffective. (Doc. 10-19, pp. 8, 10).
on the foregoing, the appellate court found that Mr. James
failed to show that his trial counsel’s performance was
deficient or that, but for counsel’s alleged errors,
there was a reasonable probability that his trial would have
produced a different result. (Doc. 10-19, p. 10). The
appellate court held that the sentencing court properly
denied Mr. James’s Rule 32 petition regarding these
claims. (Doc. 10-19, p. 10).
Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals’ determinations are
not “contrary to” or an “unreasonable
application of” Strickland, nor are they an
“unreasonable determination of the facts in light of
the evidence presented in the State court proceeding.”
28 U.S.C. § 2254(d). Accordingly, Mr. James’s
ineffective assistance of counsel claims fail. See Hyde
v. State, 950 So.2d 344, 356 (Ala.Crim.App.2006);
see also Ala. R. Crim. P. 32.3, 32.6(b). The Court
overrules Mr. James’s objections to the magistrate
judge’s report in that regard.
consideration of the record in this case, the Court adopts
the magistrate judge’s recommendation that the Court
deny Mr. James’s habeas petition because his challenge
to his state court conviction based on his claim of
ineffective assistance of counsel is without merit.
Accordingly, the Court denies Mr. James’s petition for
habeas corpus. The Court will not issue a certificate of
appealability. If Mr. James wishes to appeal, he will have to
request a certificate of appealability from the Eleventh
Circuit Court of Appeals.
Court will enter a separate Final Judgment.
 Mr. James initially named Karla Jones
as a respondent in her capacity as warden of Ventress
Correctional Facility. (Doc. 1 at 1). Since then, Gwendolyn
Givens has become the warden of Ventress. Accordingly, Warden
Givens is substituted as a respondent. See Rumsfeld v.
Padilla, 542 U.S. ...