IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA
December 15, 2011
RAYMOND EDWARD STEELE, PETITIONER,
DEATH PENALTY CASE WARDEN, SAN QUENTIN STATE PRISON, RESPONDENT.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Carolyn K. Delaney United States Magistrate Judge
On December 14, 2011, the undersigned held a telephonic status conference. Peter Giannini and Allison Claire appeared for petitioner. Eric Christoffersen appeared for respondent. The parties discussed two issues: (1) the status of finding a replacement for Mr. Giannini's co-counsel Ms. Sheard, who left the Federal Defender's Office in November; and (2) scheduling resolution of the procedural default issues remanded to this court by Judge Burrell (Dkt. No. 193).
Ms. Claire informed the court that attorney David Harshaw, who will be starting with the Federal Defender's Capital Habeas Unit on January 3, 2012, will act as petitioner's co-counsel with Mr. Giannini. The court understands that Mr. Harshaw will require some time to familiarize himself with this case. If petitioner's counsel find they are unable to meet the January 30, 2012 deadline for discovery motions, they shall seek an extension of time supported by declarations from both attorneys.
Based on the parties' discussion about scheduling, and good cause appearing, the court has determined it will be most efficient to delay consideration of the procedural default issues remanded by Judge Burrell until after a determination on the discovery motion described in the court's September 8, 2011 order. Cf., Lambrix v. Singletary, 520 U.S. 518, 525 (1997) (a district court may address the merits without reaching procedural issues where the interests of judicial economy are best served by doing so); Franklin v. Johnson, 290 F.3d 1223, 1232 (9th Cir. 2002) ("Procedural bar issues are not infrequently more complex than the merits issues presented by the appeal, so it may well make sense in some instances to proceed to the merits if the result will be the same.")
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