Ramirez v. Stephens
ORDER denying 58 Motion to Withdraw as Attorney; denying 63 Motion; granting 65 Motion to Appoint. Atty. Gregory W. Gardner appointed to represent Ramirez as co-counsel. He may submit requests for interim payment for his work. He shall submit a motion and order for pro hac vice admission within seven days of the date of this order. (Signed by Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos) Parties notified.(mserpa, 2)
United States District Court
Southern District of Texas
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF TEXAS
CORPUS CHRISTI DIVISION
JOHN H RAMIREZ,
WILLIAM STEPHENS, et al,
July 10, 2017
David J. Bradley, Clerk
§ CIVIL ACTION NO. 2:12-CV-410
On April 17, 2017, this Court appointed attorney Seth Kretzer (Attorney Kretzer)
to represent John H. Ramirez (Ramirez), an inmate on Texas’s death row. (D.E. 57).
Ramirez has filed pro se motions and other papers manifesting his desire to have
Attorney Kretzer withdraw from representation. (D.E. 58, 59, 63). Attorney Kretzer has
filed a sealed advisory addressing the concerns raised by Ramirez. (D.E. 61). Attorney
Kretzer has also filed a motion for the appointment of co-counsel to assist in representing
Ramirez. (D.E. 65).
Federal law entitles indigent capital petitioners to the appointment of counsel, but
an inmate has no right to the service of an appointed attorney of his choice. See United
States v. Gonzalez-Lopez, 548 U.S. 140, 151 (2006); see also Wheat v. United States, 486
U.S. 153, 159 (1988) (stating that it was not “the essential aim of the [Sixth] Amendment
. . . to ensure that a defendant will inexorably be represented by the lawyer whom he
prefers”). A court may only substitute counsel for capital inmates when in the interests of
justice. Martel v. Clair, 565 U.S. 648, 659-60 (2012). This “context-specific inquiry”
involves several relevant considerations, including: “the timeliness of the motion; the
adequacy of the district court’s inquiry into the defendant’s complaint; and the asserted
cause for that complaint, including the extent of the conflict or breakdown in
communication between lawyer and client (and the client’s own responsibility, if any, for
that conflict).” Id. The Supreme Court has emphasized that a conflict of interest is also
an important consideration in this inquiry. Christeson v. Roper, 135 S. Ct. 891, 894
Ramirez has expressed his concerns about the lawyer/client relationship and his
appointed counsel’s ability to represent him zealously.
This Court has requested
information from Attorney Kretzer. The information before the Court does not suggest
that any irreconcilable problems in communication, a conflict of interest, or any other
impediment would impair Attorney Kretzer’s ability to represent his client competently.
The record and pleadings before the Court suggest that the interests of justice do not
require the substitution of counsel at this time. The Court DENIES Ramirez’s pro se
requests to substitute counsel.
Attorney Kretzer has asked for the appointment of co-counsel. (D.E. 65). Under
federal law, a capital inmate “shall be entitled to the appointment of one or more
18 U.S.C. § 3599(a)(2).
Attorney Kretzer has informed the Court that
Ramirez “has specifically assented to this appointment of Mr. [Greg] Gardner as cocounsel.”
The Court, therefore, GRANTS the pending motion and
APPOINTS the following attorney to represent Ramirez as co-counsel:
Gregory W. Gardner
P.O. Box 2366 Boulder, Colorado 80306
T: (303) 507-8984
F: (303) 580-0021
Attorney Gardner will be compensated at the maximum rate pursuant to 18 U.S.C.
§ 3599(g)(1). He may submit requests for interim payment for his work. He shall submit
a motion and order for pro hac vice admission within seven days of the date of this order.
ORDERED this 10th day of July, 2017.
NELVA GONZALES RAMOS
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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