Davidson v. Sullivan

Filing 8

ORDER Denying Petitioner's 3 Motion for Appointment of Counsel. Signed by Magistrate Judge Mitchell D. Dembin on 3/24/2017. (All non-registered users served via U.S. Mail Service)(ag)

Download PDF
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 9 SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 10 11 RYAN PATRICK DAVIDSON, Petitioner, 12 13 v. 14 W.J. SULLIVAN, 15 Respondent. Case No.: 17cv421-H (MDD) ORDER DENYING PETITIONER’S MOTION FOR APPOINTMENT OF COUNSEL [ECF No. 3] 16 17 18 Petitioner, proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis (“IFP”) with a 19 Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus [ECF No. 1] filed pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 20 2254, and currently incarcerated at the California Correctional Institute 21 State Prison in Tehachapi, California, has submitted a motion in which he 22 requests that the Court appoint counsel for him [Doc. No. 3]. In support, 23 Petitioner argues counsel should be appointed to assist him in the case 24 because Petitioner “is a layperson, indigent, and as expressed by the lower 25 courts, the success of this petition is hinged on factual development which 26 will require an expert witness, and other resources currently outside of the 27 incarcerated petitioner’s means.” (ECF No. 3 at 1). 1 17cv421-H (MDD) 1 Having considered the request submitted by Petitioner and the 2 applicable law, and for the reasons set forth below, Petitioner’s Motion for 3 Appointment of Counsel is DENIED without prejudice. 4 The Sixth Amendment right to counsel does not extend to federal 5 habeas corpus actions by state prisoners. See McClesky v. Zant, 499 U.S. 467, 6 495 (1991); Nevius v. Sumner, 105 F.3d 453, 460 (9th Cir. 1996) (noting that 7 there currently exists no constitutional right to appointment of counsel in 8 habeas proceedings); Chaney v. Lewis, 801 F.2d 1191, 1196 (9th Cir. 1986). 9 However, courts may appoint counsel for financially eligible habeas 10 petitioners seeking relief pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254 where “the interests of 11 justice so require.” 18 U.S.C. § 3006A(a)(2)(B); Chaney, 801 F.2d at 1196. 12 Whether or not to appoint counsel is a matter left to the court’s discretion, 13 unless an evidentiary hearing is necessary. See Knaubert v. Goldsmith, 791 14 F.2d 722, 728-30 (9th Cir. 1986) (explaining that the interests of justice 15 require appointment of counsel when the court conducts an evidentiary 16 hearing on the petition). 17 A court’s discretion to appoint counsel may be exercised only under 18 “exceptional circumstances.” Terrell v. Brewer, 935 F.2d 1015, 1017 (9th Cir. 19 1991). “A finding of exceptional circumstances requires an evaluation of both 20 the ‘likelihood of success on the merits and the ability of the petitioner to 21 articulate his claims pro se in light of the complexity of the legal issues 22 involved.’ Neither of these issues is dispositive and both must be viewed 23 together before reaching a decision.” Id. (quoting Wilborn v. Escalderon, 789 24 F.2d 1238, 1331 (9th Cir. 1986)). 25 Petitioner has failed to demonstrate to the Court that appointment of 26 counsel is warranted in this case. Having reviewed Petitioner’s filings in this 27 case, the Court finds that Petitioner has sufficient grasp of his claims for 2 17cv421-H (MDD) 1 habeas relief and the legal issues involved in those claims, and also is able to 2 articulate those claims adequately without assistance. See LaMere v. Risley, 3 827 F.2d 622, 626 (9th Cir. 1987) (affirming district court’s denial of request 4 for appointment of counsel where pleadings demonstrated petitioner had a 5 “good understanding of the issues and the ability to present forcefully and 6 coherently his contentions”). The Court also finds that Petitioner has not 7 established a likelihood of success on the merits. See Terrell, 935 F.2d at 8 1017. Under these circumstances, the Court concludes that this habeas 9 proceeding does not present “exceptional circumstances” justifying the 10 appointment of legal counsel. Id. Accordingly, Petitioner’s Motion for 11 Appointment of Counsel is DENIED without prejudice. 12 IT IS SO ORDERED. 13 14 Dated: March 24, 2017 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 3 17cv421-H (MDD)

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?