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Martinelli v. Neuschmid

United States District Court, N.D. California

September 6, 2019

ROBERT A. MARTINELLI, Petitioner,
v.
ROBERT NEUSCHMID, Respondent.

          ORDER FOR RESPONDENT TO SHOW CAUSE RE: DKT. NOS. 2, 4

          JAMES DONATO UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Robert Martinelli, a state prisoner, filed a pro se petition for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. He also applied for leave to proceed in forma pauperis. Petitioner was convicted in Contra Costa County, which is in this district, so venue is proper here. See 28 U.S.C. § 2241(d).

         BACKGROUND

         Petitioner was found guilty after a jury trial of residential burglary and attempted carjacking. People v. Martinelli, No. A151339, 2018 WL 330130, at *1 (Cal.Ct.App. Jan. 9, 2018). The jury also found that petitioner suffered two prior strike convictions. Id. Petitioner was sentenced to a prison term of 25 years to life. Id. The California Court of Appeal affirmed the conviction and denied the claims raised in this federal petition. Id. The California Supreme Court denied review of these claims. Petition at 3, 34.

         DISCUSSION

         STANDARD OF REVIEW

         This Court may entertain a petition for writ of habeas corpus “in behalf of a person in custody pursuant to the judgment of a State court only on the ground that he is in custody in violation of the Constitution or laws or treaties of the United States.” 28 U.S.C. § 2254(a); Rose v. Hodges, 423 U.S. 19, 21 (1975). Habeas corpus petitions must meet heightened pleading requirements. McFarland v. Scott, 512 U.S. 849, 856 (1994). An application for a federal writ of habeas corpus filed by a prisoner who is in state custody pursuant to a judgment of a state court must “specify all the grounds for relief available to the petitioner ... [and] state the facts supporting each ground.” Rule 2(c) of the Rules Governing § 2254 Cases, 28 U.S.C. § 2254. “‘[N]otice' pleading is not sufficient, for the petition is expected to state facts that point to a ‘real possibility of constitutional error.'” Rule 4 Advisory Committee Notes (quoting Aubut v. Maine, 431 F.2d 688, 689 (1st Cir. 1970)).

         LEGAL CLAIMS

         As grounds for federal habeas relief, petitioner asserts that: (1) the trial court erred when it denied petitioner's motion for substitute counsel; (2) the trial court erred in denying petitioner's motion to represent himself; and (3) the trial court violated petitioner's right to a fair trial when it ordered his physical restraint in the courtroom. Liberally construed, these claims are sufficient to require a response.[1]

         Petitioner has also requested the appointment of counsel. The Sixth Amendment right to counsel does not apply in habeas corpus actions. Knaubert v. Goldsmith, 791 F.2d 722, 728 (9th Cir. 1986). But 18 U.S.C. § 3006A(a)(2)(B) authorizes a district court to appoint counsel to represent a habeas petitioner whenever “the court determines that the interests of justice so require.” Petitioner has presented his claims adequately and the issues are not complex. The Court finds that the interests of justice do warrant the appointment of counsel at this time.

         CONCLUSION

         1. The motion to proceed in forma pauperis (Docket No. 2) is GRANTED. The motion to appoint counsel (Docket No. 4) is DENIED without prejudice.

         2. The clerk shall serve by regular mail a copy of this order and the petition and all attachments thereto on respondent and respondent's attorney, the Attorney General of the State of California. The clerk also shall serve a copy of this order on petitioner.

         3. Respondent shall file with the Court and serve on petitioner, within fifty-six (56) days of the issuance of this order, an answer conforming in all respects to Rule 5 of the Rules Governing Section 2254 Cases, showing cause why a writ of habeas corpus should not be granted. Respondent shall file with the answer and serve on petitioner a copy of all portions of the state trial record that have ...


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