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Reynolds v. Saad

United States District Court, N.D. West Virginia

July 11, 2018

MICHAEL CURTIS REYNOLDS, Petitioner,
v.
JENNIFER SAAD, Respondent.

          ORDER ADOPTING REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION [DKT. NO. 63], GRANTING RESPONDENT'S MOTION TO DISMISS [DKT. NO. 27], AND DISMISSING THE PETITION WITH PREJUDICE [DKT. NO. 1]

          IRENE M. KEELEY UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         On July 17, 2017, the pro se petitioner, Michael Curtis Reynolds ("Reynolds"), filed a Petition for Habeas Corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241 ("Petition"), attacking the validity of his conviction and sentence (Dkt. No. 1). For the reasons that follow, the Court ADOPTS the magistrate judge's Report and Recommendation ("R&R") (Dkt. No. 63) and DENIES the Petition.

         I. BACKGROUND[1]

         In July 2007, following a five-day jury trial, Reynolds was convicted of several crimes related to terrorism, including attempting to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization (al-Quada); attempting to coordinate damage to an interstate gas pipeline facility through force or explosion; and possessing an unregistered grenade, ail of which related to his use of an online message board and email messages to solicit help with an apparent terrorist plot. The District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania sentenced Reynolds to a total term of 360 months of incarceration. The Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit denied his appeal, in which he had alleged that there was insufficient evidence to connect him to incriminating e-mails sent to an undercover officer posing as a terrorist. See Reynolds v. United States of America, 374 Fed.Appx. 356 (3d Cir. 2010).[2]

         Reynolds claims here that it was a "physical impossibility" for him to have committed the crimes for which he was convicted (Dkt. No. 1 at 6). Specifically, he argues that no "use" of email could have occurred because he did not possess a computer monitor and could not "teach" other individuals about his terror plot absent the sending of emails. Id. He also claims that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) fabricated or planted evidence in order to obtain the convictions against him. Id. at 6-7. In addition, he contends that certain information contained in his Presentence Investigation (PSI) was "falsifi[ed]" to enhance his sentence. Id. at 7. For relief, Reynolds seeks release or, in the alternative, an evidentiary hearing. Id. at 8.

         Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636 and the local rules, the Court referred the Petition to the Honorable Michael J. Aloi, United States Magistrate Judge, for initial review. After being directed to show cause, the respondent moved to dismiss the Petition (Dkt. No. 27) . In a lengthy and thorough R&R, Magistrate Judge Aloi recommended that the Court deny the Petition and dismiss the case with prejudice (Dkt. No. 63). After carefully outlining the claims presented in each of Reynolds' previously filed § 2255 motions and § 224i petitions, as well as the manner in which each case had been resolved, [3]" the R&R concluded that each of the claims raised in the Petition are "identical to those already repeatedly denied by the sentencing court, this Court, and other districts." id. At 28-30. Accordingly, the R&R concluded that the Petition should be denied and dismissed as successive and an abuse of the writ of habeas corpus. Id. at 30.

         The R&R also informed Reynolds of his right to file "written objections identifying the portions of the Recommendation to which objections are made and the basis for such objections." LcL. at 33. It further warned him that the failure to do so may result in waiver of his right to appeal. Id. The Court received Reynolds' timely objections on May 21, 2018 (Dkt. No. 66).

         II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         A. Pro Se Pleadings

         Because Reynolds is acting pro se, the Court must liberally construe his pleadings. Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 106 (1976); hoe v. Armistead, 582 F.2d 1291, 1295 (4th Cir. 1978). A pro se complaint is subject to dismissal, however, if the Court cannot reasonably read the pleadings to state a valid claim on which the plaintiff could prevail. Rarnett v. Harqett, 174 F.3d 1128, 1133 (10th Cir. 1999). A court may not construct the plaintiff's legal arguments for him, nor should it "conjure up questions never squarely presented." Reaudett v. City of Hampton, 775 F.2d 1274, 1278 (4th Cir. 1985).

         B. Review of the R&R

         When reviewing a magistrate judge's R&R, the Court must review de novo only those portions to which an objection is timely made. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b) (1) (C) . On the other hand, "the Court may adopt, without explanation, any of the magistrate judge's recommendations to which the prisoner does not object." Dellacirprete v. Gutierrez, 479 F.Supp.2d 600, 603-04 (N.D. W.Va. 2007) (citing Camby v. Davis, 718 F.2d 198, 199 (4th Cir. 1983)} . Courts will uphold those portions of a recommendation to which no objection has been made unless they are "clearly erroneous." See Diamond v. Colonial Life & Accident Ins. Co., 416 F.3d 310, 315 (4th Cir. 2005) .

         Vague objections to an R&R distract a district court from "focusing on disputed issues" and defeat the purpose of an initial screening by the magistrate judge. McPherson v. Astrue, 605 F.Supp.2d 744, 749 (S.D. W.Va. 2009) (citing Howard's Yellow Cabs, Inc. v. United States, 987 F.Supp. 469, 474 (W.D. N.C. 1997)). Failure to raise specific errors waives the claimant's right to a de novo review because "general and conclusory" objections do not warrant such review. Id. (citing Orpiano v. Johnson, 687 F.2d 44, 47 (4th Cir. 1982); Howard's Yellow Cabs, 987 F.Supp. at 474); see also Green v. Rubenstein, 64 4 F.Supp.2d 723 (S.D. W.Va. 2009). Indeed, failure to file specific objections waives appellate review of both factual and legal questions. See United States v. Schronce, 72 7 F.2d 91, 94 & n.4 (4th Cir. 1984); see also Moore v. United States, 950 F.2d 656, 659 (10th Cir. 1991).

         III. ...


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