Johnson v. Hobbs

Filing 18

ORDER denying 11 Petitioner's Motion to Stay and Motion to Appoint Counsel. Signed by Magistrate Judge J. Thomas Ray on 03/05/2014. (kcs)

Download PDF
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF ARKANSAS PINE BLUFF DIVISION ROBERT EUGENE JOHNSON ADC#78181 VS. PETITIONER 5:12CV00370 KGB/JTR RAY HOBBS, Director, Arkansas Department of Correction RESPONDENT ORDER Petitioner has filed a Motion (doc. #11) requesting the appointment of counsel. He relies on the Court’s decision in Martinez v. Ryan, 132 S. Ct. 1309 (2012). In Martinez, the United States Supreme Court recognized a “limited” and “narrow” equitable exception to the procedural default doctrine in jurisdictions where an ineffective assistance of trial counsel claim must be raised for the first time in an “initial-review collateral proceeding.” “[A] procedural default will not bar a federal habeas court from hearing a substantial claim of ineffective assistance at trial if, in the initial-review collateral proceeding, there was no counsel or counsel in that proceeding was ineffective.”1 Id. at 1320. 1 In Dansby v. Norris, 682 F.3d 711 (8th Cir. 2012), the Eighth Circuit considered the Martinez exception, in the context of a federal habeas claim arising in Arkansas, and concluded that, because an ineffective assistance of counsel claim may be raised in a motion for new trial and on direct appeal in Arkansas, Martinez was inapplicable. However, in Trevino v. Thaler, 133 S. Ct. 1911 (2013), the United States Supreme Court held that Martinez was Petitioner argues that, pursuant to Martinez, he is entitled to the appointment of counsel and a stay so that appointed counsel can investigate his procedurallydefaulted ineffective assistance claims. He also requests counsel to investigate his claim of actual innocence. While Martinez establishes an equitable exception to procedural default, it does not provide an independent basis to appoint counsel in a habeas case. It is well settled that a habeas petitioner in a non-capital case does not have a constitutional or statutory right to counsel. See Morris v. Dormire, 217 F.3d 556, 558 (8th Cir. 2000). Instead, the Court may, in its discretion, appoint counsel if: (1) the habeas action is factually or legally complex; or (2) the petitioner is unable to investigate or articulate his claims without court-appointed counsel. Id. After careful consideration, the Court concludes that the factual and legal issues presented in this non-capital habeas case are not complex, and that Petitioner has demonstrated his ability to investigate and articulate his claims. applicable in Texas, where the procedural rules only “theoretically” allowed for ineffective-assistance claims to be raised on direct appeal: “where, as here, a state procedural framework, by reason of its design and operation, makes it highly unlikely in a typical case that a defendant will have a meaningful opportunity to raise a claim of ineffective assistance of trial counsel on direct appeal, our holding in Martinez applies.” Afterwards, the United States Supreme Court vacated the Dansby decision and remanded the case to the Eighth Circuit “for further consideration in light of Trevino v. Thaler[.]” Dansby v. Hobbs, 133 S. Ct. 2767 (2013). The Eighth Circuit’s reconsideration of Dansby is currently pending. However, in a recent capital habeas case, Sasser v. Hobbs, 735 F.3d 833, 852-853 (8th Cir. 2013), the Court held that the Arkansas procedural system did not “as a systematic matter” afford the petitioner “meaningful review of a claim of ineffective assistance of trial counsel” on direct appeal. Accordingly, it held that Martinez and Trevino were applicable. 2 IT IS THEREFORE ORDERED THAT Petitioner’s Motion for Stay and Appointment of Counsel (doc. #11) is DENIED. Dated this 5th day of March, 2015. __________________________________ UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE 3

Disclaimer: Justia Dockets & Filings provides public litigation records from the federal appellate and district courts. These filings and docket sheets should not be considered findings of fact or liability, nor do they necessarily reflect the view of Justia.

Why Is My Information Online?