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Watson v. Brazelton

United States District Court, S.D. California

October 27, 2014

KHARY B. WATSON, Petitioner,
v.
PAUL BRAZELTON, et al., Respondent.

ORDER DENYING MOTION FOR APPOINTMENT OF COUNSEL WITHOUT PREJUDICE [ECF No. 3]

BARBARA L. MAJOR, Magistrate Judge.

Currently before the Court is Petitioner's September 11, 2014 motion for appointment counsel. ECF No. 3. For the reasons set forth below, Petitioner's motion for appointment of counsel is DENIED WITHOUT PREJUDICE.

BACKGROUND

On September 8, 2014, Petitioner filed a Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus. ECF No. 1 ("Pet."). On September 11, 2014, Petitioner filed a Motion for Appointment of Counsel. ECF No. 3. In his motion, Petitioner states that he is "unable to do this legal process by [him]self" and that he can barley read and write. Id. at 1. Petitioner further states that he was depressed, under stress, and "going thru [sic] some mental issue[s]" while he was appealing his case, but that he is now ready to focus and restart the appeal process. Id . Petitioner attaches an unsigned letter to his motion to show that he is "no longer on the mainline G.P. [General Population]" and is under a doctor's care. Id. at 2. The letter is dated July 29, 2014 and states as follows:

TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN:
Mr. Khary Watson, a CDCR inmate at Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility, with a CDCR # T04665, is currently participating in the Extended Outpatient Program (EOP) of the CDCR'S Mental Health Services Delivery System (MHSDS). He was admitted to the Mental Health Crisis Bed on 4/24/2014 and after treatment, was discharged to the Extended Outpatient Program (EOP) on 5/07/2014.
Mr. Watson has signed a Release of Information dated 7/29/2014 regarding this information.
Mr. Watson is under the clinical care of Dr. Jose C. Peña, Ph.D. CDCR Staff Psychologist.

Id.

LEGAL STANDARD

A. Appointment of Counsel

The Sixth Amendment right to counsel does not extend to federal habeas corpus actions by state prisoners. McCleskey v. Zant , 499 U.S. 467, 495 (1991); Nevius v. Sumner , 105 F.3d 453, 460 (9th Cir. 1996) (noting that there currently exists no constitutional right to appointment of counsel in habeas proceedings): Chaney v. Lewis , 801 F.2d 1191, 1196 (9th Cir. 1986). However, courts may appoint counsel for financially eligible habeas petitioners seeking relief pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254 whenever the court "determines that the interests of justice so require." 18 U.S.C. § 3006A(a)(2)(B); Terrovona v. Kincheloe , 912 F.2d 1176, 1181 (9th Cir. 1990) (citing 18 U.S.C. § 3006A(a)(2)(B)); Chaney , 801 F.2d at 1196 ("[i]ndigent state prisoners applying for habeas corpus relief are not entitled to appointed counsel unless the circumstances of a particular case indicate that appointed counsel is necessary to prevent due process violations."). Whether or not to appoint counsel is a matter left to the court's discretion, unless an evidentiary hearing is necessary. Knaubert v. Goldsmith , 791 F.2d 722, 729-30 (9th Cir. 1986) (explaining that the interests of justice require appointment of counsel when the court conducts an evidentiary hearing on the petition.).

The court's discretion to appoint counsel may be exercised only under "exceptional circumstances." Terrell v. Brewer , 935 F.2d 1015, 1017 (9th Cir. 1991).[1] "A finding of exceptional circumstances requires an evaluation of both the likelihood of success on the merits and the ability of the petitioner to articulate his claims pro se in light of the complexity of the legal issues involved. Neither of these factors is dispositive and ...


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