Robert F. SMITH, Petitioner - Appellant, v. Harold W. CLARKE, Director, Virginia Department of Corrections, Respondent - Appellee.
Decided: May 22, 2020
Before NIEMEYER, HARRIS, and RICHARDSON, Circuit Judges.
Robert F. Smith, Appellant Pro Se.
Rrists could find the district court's assessment of the constitutional claims debatable or wrong. See Buck v. Davis, ––– U.S. ––––, 137 S. Ct. 759, 773-74, 197 L.Ed.2d 1 (2017). When the district court denies relief on procedural grounds, the prisoner must demonstrate both that the dispositive procedural ruling is debatable and that the petobert F. Smith seeks to appeal the district court's order accepting the recommendation of the magistrate judge and denying relief on Smith's 28 U.S.C. § 2254 (2018) petition. The order is not appealable unless a circuit justice or judge issues a certificate of appealability. See 28 U.S.C. § 2253(c)(1)(A) (2018). A certificate of appealability will not issue absent “a substantial showing of the denial of a constitutional right.” 28 U.S.C. § 2253(c)(2) (2018). When the district court denies relief on the merits, a prisoner satisfies this standard by demonstrating that reasonable juition states a debatable claim of the denial of a constitutional right. Gonzalez v. Thaler, 565 U.S. 134, 140-41, 132 S.Ct. 641, 181 L.Ed.2d 619 (2012) (citing Slack v. McDaniel, 529 U.S. 473, 484, 120 S.Ct. 1595, 146 L.Ed.2d 542 (2000)).
Limiting our review of the record to the issues raised in Smith's informal brief, we conclude that Smith has not made the requisite showing. See 4th Cir. R. 34(b); see also Jackson v. Lightsey, 775 F.3d 170, 177 (4th Cir. 2014) (“The informal brief is an important document; under Fourth Circuit rules, our review is limited to issues preserved in that brief.”). Smith does not contest the district court's dispositive ruling that all but the 2018 parole denial claims were untimely filed and that Smith did not demonstrate that any of the claims were properly exhausted. Turning to the merits of the 2018 parole denial claims, Smith did not demonstrate that reasonable jurists could find the district court's assessment of the claims debatable or wrong. Accordingly, we deny a certificate of appealability and dismiss the appeal.
We dispense with oral argument because the facts and legal contentions are adequately presented in the materials before this court and argument would not aid the decisional process.
Dismissed by unpublished per curiam opinion.
Unpublished opinions are not binding precedent in this circuit.
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