Clinton Folkes v. Warden Nelsen, No. 21-6217 (4th Cir. 2022)Annotate this Case
Petitioner is serving a life sentence upon a South Carolina conviction for assault and battery with intent to kill. One claim in Petitioner’s state habeas petition alleged that his state appellate counsel was ineffective for failing to file a Petition for Rehearing in the Court of Appeals.
The district court granted Section 2254 relief, but not on the ground Petitioner raised. Instead, the district court determined Petitioner was entitled to relief because his appellate counsel (1) failed “to timely advise him of the adverse decision of the Court of Appeals on his direct appeal and of his right to seek further appellate review,” and (2) sent a letter containing counsel’s “forged signature” that “inaccurately informed Petitioner that his state court appellate rights had been exhausted.” South Carolina appealed, arguing that the district court’s judgment conflicts with the rigorous standards that apply when a state prisoner seeks to challenge the constitutionality of his state sentence in federal court.
The Fourth Circuit reversed the judgment of the district court and denied Petitioner’s writ of habeas corpus. The court held that no ineffective assistance of counsel claim can arise based on conduct relating to discretionary, subsequent appeals. The court reasoned that the district court impermissibly altered the claim presented in Petitioner’s sec. 2254 petition. As for the claim Petitioner actually raised, the district court properly held that he had not shown that he was entitled to relief under the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 (“AEDPA”).