United States District Court, E.D. California
Charles Head is a prisoner proceeding pro se with counsel
appointed for a limited purpose in two related cases: Case
No. 2:08-cr-0093 and Case No. 2:08-cr-00116. Specifically,
the court appointed counsel, Daniel Lars Olsen, for the
limited purpose of assisting Head in obtaining files from his
former trial counsel in compliance with the procedures
applicable in Head's Bureau of Prisons facility and
redacted to protect personal identifying information
contained in the discovery. See Notice of CJA
Appointment, ECF No. 1623 (ECF No. 885); Def.'s
Response to Court's Request, ECF No. 1632; Mot. for
Reconsideration and Clarification, ECF No. 1631. Head has now
filed an Ex Parte Motion For Substitution of Counsel, in
which he expresses that Olsen has not been communicating with
him, and asks the court to substitute Olsen for an attorney
familiar with habeas law. ECF No. 1639 (and ECF
890). Head's filings also raise related
issues that warrant addressing, all of which the court
HEAD'S REQUEST FOR SUBSTITUTION OF COUNSEL
response to this filing, the court directed Head's
counsel to respond to the merits of the motion, which he has
in a document the court has filed under seal. See
ECF No. 1649 (and 898). Olsen explained that Head is correct,
Olsen is not a habeas attorney, and he was appointed only for
the limited purpose described above. Nevertheless, Olsen
argues that it is in Head's best interest to keep Olsen
as his attorney until the task for which he was appointed is
completed. Olsen is correct that he was not appointed to
represent Head as his habeas attorney, so his lack of
expertise in the area is not a reason to replace him. Olsen
will be retained as Head's limited purpose discovery
attorney until the completion of the discovery task for which
he was appointed. Head would be prejudiced if Olsen were
replaced at this time. For these reasons, and with the
foregoing clarifications, the court DENIES Head's request
to substitute counsel. ECF No. 1639 (and 890). This denial
also resolves Head's duplicative Motion to Withdraw
Counsel, ECF No. 1636 (and ECF No. 889).
OTHER ISSUES RAISED
and Head raise several other issues in their filings on the
motion for substitution, which the court addresses below.
Communication with Counsel
response, Olsen explains he has had difficulty communicating
with Head due to Head's incarceration. He does not
explain whether this lack of communication has been
rectified. Accordingly, the court DIRECTS Olsen to provide
the court with an update on whether he has been able to
establish effective lines of communication with his client in
the next 21 days.
Minute Order, ECF No. 1630
also points the court to the Minute Order at ECF No. 1630,
The court is in receipt of an ex parte discovery motion and
request to seal that are not filed on the public docket. In
light of the court's appointment of counsel for Mr. Head
for the purpose of discovery, the court will not consider
discovery motions filed pro se. Accordingly, the court
DISREGARDS the aforementioned motion and request to seal.
Olsen was retained for one, discrete discovery task, Olsen
argues the court erred in disregarding Head's other
discovery motions, as he is representing himself in this
case. The court agrees.
sealed Ex Parte Motion for Substitution of Counsel, ECF No.
1639 (and ECF No. 890), and his Motion to Withdraw Counsel,
ECF No. 1636 (and ECF No. 889), both argued that Head's
pro se discovery motions should be considered, in light of
Olsen's appointment for only a limited purpose. The court
will not disregard Head's pro se discovery motions that
are unrelated to Olsen's discovery task.
ECF No. 1630, which has no corresponding filing in Case No.
2:08-cr-00116, is hereby VACATED and the court DIRECTS the
Clerk to file only the request to seal referenced therein on
the docket. The request and the substantive motion will be
considered in due course.
Olsen's Response to Minute Order ECF No. ...