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BROWN v. LEWIS (2021)

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United States Court of Appeals, Fourth Circuit.

James A. BROWN, Petitioner-Appellant, v. Scott LEWIS, Warden, South Carolina Department of Corrections, Respondent-Appellee.

James A. Brown, Petitioner-Appellant, v. Scott Lewis, Warden, South Carolina Department of Corrections, Respondent-Appellee.

No. 20-7205, No. 20-7260

Decided: January 22, 2021

Before AGEE, WYNN, and DIAZ, Circuit Judges. James A. Brown, Appellant Pro Se.

James A. Brown seeks to appeal the district court's order accepting the recommendation of the magistrate judge and dismissing Brown's 28 U.S.C. § 2254 petition as an unauthorized, successive § 2254 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). 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). When, as here, the district court denies relief on procedural grounds, the prisoner must demonstrate both that the dispositive procedural ruling is debatable and that the petition 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 Brown's informal briefs, we conclude that Brown 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.”). Accordingly, we deny a certificate of appealability and dismiss these appeals. 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Dismissed by unpublished per curiam opinion. Unpublished opinions are not binding precedent in this circuit.

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