WOODS v. GILMORE
ORDER THAT THE REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION IS APPROVED AND ADOPTED; MOTION FOR DISCOVERY FILED BY PETITIONER IS DENIED FOR THE REASONS SET IN THE REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION; MOTION FOR APPOINTMENT OF COUNSEL FILED BY PETITIONER IS DENIED FOR THE REASONS SET FORTH IN THE REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION. PETITION FOR WRIT OF HABEAS CORPUS IS DISMISSED AS UNTIMELY FILED; AND OBJECTIONS TO THE REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION BY PETITIONER ARE OVERRULED; IT IS FURTHER ORDERED THAT A CERTIFICATE OF APPEALABILITY WILL NOT ISSUE.. SIGNED BY HONORABLE JAN E. DUBOIS ON 6/22/17. 6/23/17 ENTERED AND COPIES MAILED TO PRO SE PETITIONER, E-MAILED TO COUNSEL.(pr, )
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF PENNSYLVANIA
ROBERT GILMORE et. al. Superintendent
of The State Correctional Institution at SCI
AND NOW, this 22nd day of June, 2017, upon consideration of Petition Under 28 U.S.C.
§ 2254 for Writ of Habeas Corpus (Document No. 5, filed March 28, 2017), Motion for
Discovery (Document No. 6, filed March 28, 2017), Motion for Appointment of Counsel
(Document No. 7, filed March 28, 2017), all of which were filed by pro se petitioner, Shamone
Woods, the record in this case, the Report and Recommendation of United States Magistrate
Judge Thomas J. Rueter dated May 10, 2017, and pro se petitioner’s Objections to Report and
Recommendation (Document No. 13, filed June 9, 2017), IT IS ORDERED as follows:
The Report and Recommendation of United States Magistrate Judge Thomas J.
Rueter dated May 10, 2017, is APPROVED and ADOPTED;
Motion for Discovery filed by pro se petitioner is DENIED for the reasons set
forth in the Report and Recommendation;
Motion for Appointment of Counsel filed by pro se petitioner is DENIED for the
reasons set forth in the Report and Recommendation;
Petition Under 28 U.S.C. § 2254 for Writ of Habeas Corpus filed by pro se
petitioner, Shamone Woods, is DISMISSED as untimely filed; and,
Objections to Report and Recommendation filed by pro se petitioner are
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that a certificate of appealability will not issue because
reasonable jurists would not debate the propriety of this Court’s procedural ruling with respect to
the Petition Under 28 U.S.C. § 2254. See 28 U.S.C. § 2253(c)(2); Slack v. McDaniel, 529 U.S.
473, 484 (2000).
The decision of the Court is based on the following:
The facts of the case are set forth in the Report and Recommendation of United States
Magistrate Judge Thomas J. Rueter dated May 10, 2017, which this Court has approved and
adopted, and will not be repeated in this Order. The Court writes at this time only to explain its
ruling on pro se petitioner’s Objections to Report and Recommendation.
Pro se petitioner raises two objections to the Report and Recommendation. First, he
claims that extraordinary circumstances warrant application of equitable tolling and that his pro
se Habeas Corpus Petition should not have been dismissed as untimely filed. In making this
argument pro se petitioner states that he is illiterate and ignorant of the law, which warrants
equitable tolling. Second, pro se petitioner argues that the United States Magistrate Judge erred
in denying his Motion for Appointment of Counsel.
Illiteracy and Ignorance of the Law
Illiteracy or ignorance of the law are not per se reasons for justifying equitable tolling.
See, e.g., Ross v. Varano, 712 F.3d 784, 800 (a petitioner’s “lack of legal knowledge or legal
training does not alone justify equitable tolling”). On this issue the United States District Court
for the Middle District of Pennsylvania has ruled that “lack of education or legal knowledge . . .
are not extraordinary circumstances that warrant equitable tolling,” Mendez v. Superintendent
SCI-Huntingdon, Civil No. 13-1137, 2013 WL 3894865, at *3 (M.D. Pa. July 26, 2013), and that
“[l]ack of education and illiteracy . . . do not favor equitable tolling,” King v. Tritt, No. 13-cv2045, 2014 WL 2865090, at *3 (M.D. Pa. June 24, 2014) (citing Mendez). Other courts have
stated that “illiteracy is insufficient to toll the statute of limitations.” Cline v. Schnurr, 652 Fed.
App’x 708, 711 (10th Cir. 2016) (non-precedential) (quotation marks and citation omitted).
While illiteracy and ignorance of the law are certainly obstacles in the path of a petitioner
or other person seeking relief, this Court concludes that they are insufficient, without more, to
excuse a petitioner’s failure to timely file a habeas corpus petition during the entire statutory
period. Pro se petitioner has failed to assert anything other than his claimed illiteracy and
ignorance of the law in explaining his failure to timely file his habeas corpus petitioner. Thus,
relief on this ground is denied.
Appointment of Counsel
Pro se petitioner has no “automatic constitutional right” to counsel in a habeas corpus
proceeding. Reese v. Fulcomer, 946 F.2d 247, 263 (3d Cir. 1991) superseded by statute on
other grounds. Under applicable law, as stated in the Report and Recommendation, where a pro
se petitioner in a habeas corpus case makes a colorable claim, but lacks the means to adequately
investigate, prepare or present the claim, counsel may be appointed. However, in this case,
because the habeas corpus petition is untimely, and must be dismissed, pro se petitioner has not
raised a colorable claim, and his Motion for Appointment of Counsel is therefore denied.
BY THE COURT:
/s/ Hon. Jan E. DuBois
DuBOIS, JAN E., J.
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