Storey v. Paramo
ORDER Overruling Objections to Denial of Counsel. The Court finds that the interests of justice do not warrant the appointment of counsel at this time, and overrules Storey's objections to Judge Skomal's denial of appointment of counsel. Signed by Judge Larry Alan Burns on 10/19/2017.(All non-registered users served via U.S. Mail Service)(lrf)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA
DONTAZE A. STOREY,
Case No.: 17cv23-LAB (BGS)
OBJECTIONS TO DENIAL OF
After Magistrate Judge Bernard Skomal denied Petitioner Dontaze Storey’s
requests for appointment of counsel, Storey objected to Skomal’s order within the
deadline set by Fed. R. Civ. P. 72(a). 1 Judge Skomal’s order correctly sets forth the
standards for appointment of counsel in federal habeas cases such as this one, and the
Court applies those standards without repeating them here.
Storey’s objections point out that he is being assisted by another inmate, that
several of his documents were accepted by discrepancy order, and that the California
Supreme Court denied his petition as improperly pled. None of those are reasons for
appointment of counsel, however.
Storey’s objections are styled as his objections to Judge Skomal’s report and
recommendation, but the objections address only Judge Skomal’s separate order denying
appointment of counsel.
The fact that Storey is being assisted by a “jailhouse lawyer” means he is receiving
some assistance already. See Bounds v. Smith, 430 U.S. 817, 823 (1977) (citing Johnson
v. Avery, 393 U.S. 483 (1969) (recognizing jailhouse lawyers as providing legal
assistance necessary to enable pro se prisoners to prepare and file habeas petitions). The
assistance of “jailhouse lawyers” is extremely common, and reliance on one does not by
itself suggest that the petitioner needs appointed counsel.
The discrepancy orders Storey refers to point out violations of rules. But pro se
litigants’ violation of rules is not uncommon, and the Court is mindful of its “duty to
ensure that pro se litigants do not lose their right to a hearing on the merits of their claim
due to ignorance of technical procedural requirements.” See Balistreri v. Pacifica Police
Dept., 901 F.2d 696, 699 (9th Cir. 1990). So far, none of the errors pointed out in the
discrepancy orders have been prejudicial to Storey, and there is no likelihood they will
Finally, the California Supreme Court’s denial of pro se prisoners’ habeas petitions
as inadequately pled or improperly litigated is common, and does not indicate any
unusual circumstances that would warrant appointment of counsel in this case. To the
extent Storey may be suggesting that he needs counsel to assist him with his state
petition, the Court has no power to help him with that; the appointment of counsel in state
court proceedings is a matter for the state court. See In re Sanders, 21 Cal.4th 697, 717
n.11 (1999) (citation omitted) (briefly outlining requirements for appointment of counsel
in noncapital habeas cases).
The Court finds that the interests of justice do not warrant the appointment of
counsel at this time, and OVERRULES Storey’s objections to Judge Skomal’s denial of
appointment of counsel.
IT IS SO ORDERED.
Dated: October 19, 2017
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