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Scruggs v. State

United States District Court, N.D. Mississippi, Oxford Division

September 18, 2018

ROBERT S. SCRUGGS PETITIONER
v.
STATE OF MISSISSIPPI RESPONDENT

          ORDER ADOPTING REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          DEBRA M. BROWN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Before the Court in this habeas action is the Report and Recommendation of United States Magistrate Judge Jane M. Virden, Doc. #20; which recommends that the State of Mississippi's motion to dismiss, Doc. #14, be granted; and that Robert Scruggs' motion for summary judgment, Doc. #13, be denied.

         I

         Procedural History

         On or about May 31, 2017, Robert Scruggs, acting pro se, filed in this Court a petition for a writ of habeas corpus. Doc. #1. In his petition, Scruggs, a state prisoner serving a habitual offender sentence of life without parole, contends that he was unlawfully denied eligibility for parole. Although less than clear, Scruggs also appears to complain that he was unlawfully denied release on parole.

         On or about October 31, 2017, Scruggs filed a motion for summary judgment on his petition. Doc. #13. Approximately two weeks later, on November 15, 2017, the State of Mississippi filed a motion to dismiss Scruggs' petition, Doc. #14; and filed a response in opposition to Scruggs' motion for summary judgment, Doc. #16. On or about November 29, 2017, Scruggs filed a document styled as “Rebuttable Presumption, ” which in substance is a response to the State's motion to dismiss. Doc. #17.

         While the motion to dismiss was pending, Scruggs filed a motion to amend his pleadings “to cause pleadings to conform to Evidence Rule 15(a), (b).” Doc. #18 at 2. The motion, which referenced “facts arising[] since filing of the original pleadings, ” also sought discovery in the form of “[t]he ascertainment of previously unknown facts, which disclosure came to light.” Id. The motion to amend was granted by Judge Virden on March 26, 2018. Doc. #19. The request for discovery was not addressed in Judge Virden's order.

         On April 3, 2018, Judge Virden issued a Report and Recommendation which recommends that the State's motion to dismiss be granted because “Scruggs has not alleged that the State … violated a right protected under federal law.” Doc. #20 at 6. Specifically, Judge Virden found that Scruggs lacks a liberty interest in obtaining parole sufficient to trigger federal protections because entitlement to parole is discretionary in Mississippi. Id. at 10. Accordingly, the Report and Recommendation recommends that Scruggs' motion for summary judgment be denied and that Scruggs' habeas petition be dismissed. Id.

         On or about April 5, 2018, Scruggs filed a “Motion of Amendments, ” which asks the Court to order the Mississippi Department of Corrections to produce certain documents. Doc. #22. The State, treating the motion as a motion to amend the petition, filed a response in opposition on April 18, 2018. Doc. #23.

         On or about April 17, 2018, Scruggs filed objections to the Report and Recommendation.

         Doc. #25. The State responded to the objections on April 27, 2018, Doc. #26; and Scruggs filed a supplement to his objections on or about May 8, 2018, Doc. #27.

         II

         Discovery Requests

         In his first motion to amend, Scruggs asks “to be allowed Discovery. The ascertainment of previously unknown facts, which disclosure came to light.” Doc. #18 at 2. In his “Motion of Amendments, ” Scruggs seems to limit the request to discovery related to allegedly similarly ...


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