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Franklin v. State

United States District Court, D. Nevada

March 9, 2017

LEONARD ORVILLE FRANKLIN, Petitioner,
v.
STATE OF NEVADA, et al., Respondents.

          ORDER

          MIRANDA M. DU UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         This action is a pro se petition for a writ of habeas corpus filed pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254 by a Nevada state prisoner. Before the Court is respondents' motion to dismiss. (ECF No. 13). Also pending is petitioner's second motion to proceed in forma pauperis and second motion for the appointment of counsel. (ECF Nos. 18, 19).

         I. BACKGROUND

         Pursuant to a guilty plea, petitioner was convicted of lewdness with a child under the age of 14 and sentenced to a term of life with the possibility of parole after ten years have been served. (Exhs 16, 17, 20, 25, 26.)[1] Petitioner appealed the judgment of conviction. (Exh. 27.) Petitioner raised a single claim on direct appeal - that a breakdown in communication and his distrust of his attorney was so pervasive that it created a conflict that violated his right to be represented by conflict-free counsel. (Exh. 43.) The Nevada Supreme Court affirmed petitioner's conviction. (Exh. 50.)

         Petitioner filed a post-conviction habeas corpus petition in the state district court. (Exh. 52.) Petitioner's appointed counsel later filed a supplemental petition. (Exh. 68.) The state district court dismissed the petition and supplement because the claims either were procedurally barred by § NRS 34.810(1)(a), or were not supported by sufficient factual allegations that, if proven to be true, would entitle him to relief. (Exh. 85.)

         Petitioner appealed the dismissal of the post-conviction habeas petition. (Exh. 87.) By order filed February 27, 2015, the Nevada Supreme Court transferred the appeal to the Nevada Court of Appeals. (Exh. 100.) Petitioner asserted the following: (1) that his plea was not knowing, intelligent, and voluntary; (2) that the state district court abused its discretion by dismissing the petition and supplement and not holding an evidentiary hearing; (3) that the state district court improperly interpreted the language of NRS § 34.810; (4) that the improper application of § NRS 34.810 violated the Nevada State Constitution; (5) that the conflict between petitioner and his attorney violated his right to conflict-free counsel; and (6) cumulative error. (Exh. 93.) The Nevada Court of Appeals affirmed the decision of the state district court. (Exh. 101.)

         Petitioner dispatched his federal habeas petition to this Court on July 13, 2015. (ECF No. 2.) Respondents have filed a motion to dismiss the petition. (ECF No. 13.) Petitioner filed an opposition. (ECF No. 20.) Respondents filed a reply. (ECF No. 23.) Additionally, petitioner filed a second motion to proceed in forma pauperis and a second motion for the appointment of counsel. (ECF Nos. 18, 19.)

         II. DISCUSSION

         A. Petitioner's Second Motions

         On the same date that petitioner filed an opposition to the motion to dismiss, petitioner also filed second motions to proceed in forma pauperis and for the appointment of counsel. (ECF Nos. 18, 19). By order filed November 13, 2015, the Court denied as moot petitioner's first motion to proceed in forma pauperis. (ECF No. 7.) For the same reason, petitioner's second motion to proceed in forma pauperis is denied. /// Petitioner has filed a second motion for the appointment of counsel. (ECF No. 19.) There is no constitutional right to appointed counsel for a federal habeas corpus proceeding. Pennsylvania v. Finley, 481 U.S. 551, 555 (1987); Bonin v. Vasquez, 999 F.2d 425, 428 (9th Cir. 1993). The decision to appoint counsel is generally discretionary. Chaney v. Lewis, 801 F.2d 1191, 1196 (9th Cir. 1986), cert. denied, 481 U.S. 1023 (1987); Bashor v. Risley, 730 F.2d 1228, 1234 (9th Cir.), cert. denied, 469 U.S. 838 (1984). The Court previously denied petitioner's first motion for the appointment of counsel, finding that the petition in this case is sufficiently clear in presenting the issues petitioner sought to bring and that the issues in this case are not complex. (ECF No. 7.) Nothing in petitioner's current motion causes the Court to change its decision that the appointment of counsel is unwarranted in this case. Petitioner's second motion for the appointment of counsel is denied.

         B. Respondents' Motion to Dismiss

         1. Ground 4

         In Ground 4, petitioner alleges a violation of due process because the state district court “abused its discretion” by not holding an evidentiary hearing to address the allegations that counsel was ineffective for failing to adequately investigate his case. (ECF No. 2 at 22-24.)

         Respondents argue that Ground 4 of the petition is not cognizable. A state prisoner is entitled to federal habeas relief only if he is being held in custody in violation of the constitution, laws, or treaties of the United States. 28 U.S.C. § 2254(a). Unless an issue of federal constitutional or statutory law is implicated by the facts presented, the claim is not cognizable under federal habeas corpus. Estelle v. McGuire, 502 U.S. 62, 68 (1991). Allegations of violations of state law do not present a cognizable basis for federal habeas corpus relief. Swarthout v. Cooke, 562 U.S. 216, 219-222 (2011); Missouri v. Hunter, 459 U.S. 359, 368 (1983); Engle v. Isacc, 456 U.S. 107, 119 (1982). Whether a state court properly applied a standard of state law - here, whether the court should have held an evidentiary hearing on ...


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