Flow v. Sheriff Columbia County, Arkansas
ORDER ADOPTING REPORT AND RECOMMENDATIONS re 31 ; denying 1 Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus filed by Ronnie Flow; no Certificate of Appealability issued in this matter. Signed by Honorable Susan O. Hickey on April 11, 2018. (cnn)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
WESTERN DISTRICT OF ARKANSAS
EL DORADO DIVISION
Case No. 1:17-cv-01016
WENDY KELLY, Director,
Arkansas Department of Correction
Before the Court is the Report and Recommendation filed March 8, 2018, by the Honorable
Barry A. Bryant, United States Magistrate Judge for the Western District of Arkansas. ECF No.
31. On February 15, 2017, the petitioner, Ronnie Flow (“Petitioner”), filed this pro se petition for
a writ of habeas corpus under 28 U.S.C. § 2254 challenging his 1999 conviction, pursuant to a
guilty plea, for sexual abuse in the first degree in the Circuit Court of Columbia County, Arkansas.1
ECF No. 1. Petitioner was sentenced to a 60-month term of probation, a $1,000.00 fine and
$150.00 in court costs. ECF No. 16-1. Petitioner challenges his conviction on the following
grounds: 1) he was not convicted at trial and did not enter a plea of guilty; and 2) he was taken
advantage of in the state court proceedings because he suffers from mental retardation. Petitioner
also requests an expungement of his conviction on the ground that he was legally married to the
victim of the crime for which he was convicted.
Judge Bryant recommends that Petitioner’s habeas corpus petition should be dismissed for
several reasons. First, Judge Bryant recommends that the petition be dismissed as time barred by
the one-year statute of limitations set forth in 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d)(1)(A). Moreover, Judge Bryant
Petitioner has filed a separate habeas petition challenging his 1996 conviction for similar charges from the Circuit
Court of Columbia County, Arkansas. See Flow v. Kelly, No. 1:17-cv-01015 (W.D. Ark. Feb. 15, 2017).
found that Petitioner is not entitled to statutory tolling under 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d)(2), because he
failed to apply for post-conviction relief. Judge Bryant further found that Petitioner’s assertion
that he suffers from “mental retardation” is not an “extraordinary circumstance” that warrants
equitable tolling, as Petitioner has failed to present evidence of his alleged mental incapacity. In
addition, Judge Bryant recommends that the petition should be dismissed because Petitioner is not
in custody pursuant to the conviction he is challenging. With regard to his request for an
expungement of his conviction, Judge Bryant recommends that it should be dismissed because a §
2254 proceeding is not the appropriate vehicle to obtain an expungement of a state criminal
conviction. Judge Bryant also recommends that no certificate of appealability should issue in this
In his objections, Petitioner rehashes many of the same assertions raised in his petition.
While Petitioner asserts that he currently receives Disability and Supplemental Security Income
and has been “legally found to be mentally retarded by the United States government,” Petitioner
has failed to produce evidence of this claim. In addition, Petitioner repeats his claims that he was
legally married to the victim, failed to sign the plea agreement, and his mental evaluation “was not
done properly.” The Court overrules Petitioner’s objections, as he offers no error of law or fact
from which the Court finds it necessary to depart from the Report and Recommendation.
Petitioner’s objection also includes a request for appointment of counsel. It is well
established that “[t]here is no constitutional or statutory right to counsel in habeas proceedings.”
Knutson v. McNurlin, No. CV 15-2807 (DSD/BRT), 2015 WL 9224180, at *2 (D. Minn. Nov. 23,
2015), report and recommendation adopted, No. CV 15-2807(DSD/BRT), 2015 WL 9165885 (D.
Minn. Dec. 16, 2015) (citing McCall v. Benson, 114 F.3d 754, 756 (8th Cir.1997)). However, a
district court judge may appoint counsel for a habeas petitioner “if the interests of justice so
require.” 18 U.S.C. § 3006A(a)(2)(B). If an evidentiary hearing is not required, the decision to
appoint counsel is within the Court’s discretion. Abdullah v. Norris, 18 F.3d 571, 573 (8th Cir.
1994). “If the petitioner has presented only claims that are frivolous or clearly without merit, the
district court should dismiss the case on the merits without appointing counsel.” Id. (citation
The Court finds that an evidentiary hearing is not required in this matter, as the issues
presented can be resolved with a review of the petition and the state court record, which clearly
establish that Petitioner is not entitled to habeas relief. See Schriro v. Landrigan, 550 U.S. 465,
474 (2007) (“[I]f the record refutes the applicant’s factual allegations or otherwise precludes
habeas relief, a district court is not required to hold an evidentiary hearing.”). The Court further
finds that the interests of justice do not warrant the appointment of counsel because, as determined
by Judge Bryant’s Report and Recommendation, the record demonstrates that Petitioner’s claims
are clearly without merit.
Accordingly, after reviewing the record de novo, the Court adopts the Report and
Recommendation in toto. Petitioner’s petition is hereby DENIED. The Court further orders that
no Certificate of Appealability issue in this matter.
IT IS SO ORDERED, this 11th day of April, 2018.
/s/ Susan O. Hickey
Susan O. Hickey
United States District Judge
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