United States District Court, D. Nevada
SEAN E. COOTS, Petitioner,
ISIDRO BACA, et al., Respondents.
R. HICKS, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
habeas matter comes before the Court for consideration of
pro se Petitioner Sean E. Coots's Application to
Proceed In Forma Pauperis (ECF No. 1) and Motion for
Appointment of Counsel (ECF No. 1-2), and for preliminary
review pursuant to Rule 4 of the Rules Governing Section 2254
Cases. For the reasons discussed below, the Court
denies the pauper application and motion for counsel and
directs Coots to pay the filing fee and amend his petition
within 30 days.
to 28 U.S.C. § 1915 and LSR 1-1 of the Local Rules of
Practice, any person who is unable to prepay the fees in a
civil case may request permission to proceed in forma
pauperis (“IFP”). Indigent prisoners who do
not have the money to pay the five dollar ($5.00) filing fee
for a § 2254 habeas petition may apply for IFP status. A
prisoner's IFP application must be submitted on the form
provided by the court and include specific financial
documents. 28 U.S.C. § 1915; LSR 1-1, LSR 1-2.
considering the IFP application, the Court finds that Coots
is able to pay the $5 filing fee. In particular, the Court
notes that Coots's financial certificate states that he
has a current balance of $501.00 in his inmate trust account
and he receives average monthly deposits of $283.33. (ECF No.
1 at 4.) The IFP application will therefore be denied. Coots
will have 30 days from the date of this order to have the $5
filing fee sent to the Clerk of Court.
MOTION FOR APPOINTMENT OF COUNSEL
seeks the appointment of counsel to assist him in this habeas
proceedings. There is no constitutional right to appointed
counsel in a federal habeas corpus proceeding. Luna v.
Kernan, 784 F.3d 640, 642 (9th Cir. 2015) (citing
Lawrence v. Florida, 549 U.S. 327, 336-37 (2007)).
However, an indigent petitioner seeking relief under 28
U.S.C. § 2254 may request the appointment of counsel to
pursue that relief. 18 U.S.C. § 3006A(a)(2)(B). The court
has discretion to appoint counsel when the interests of
justice so require. 18 U.S.C. § 3006A(a)(2). The
interests of justice so require “when the complexities
of the case are such that denial of counsel would amount to a
denial of due process.” Brown v. United
States, 623 F.2d 54, 61 (9th Cir. 1980). In the absence
of such circumstances, a request for counsel in a § 2254
proceeding is addressed to the sound discretion of the
district court. Id. (citing Dillon v. United
States, 307 F.2d 445, 447 (9th Cir. 1962)). When a
habeas petitioner has a good understanding of the issues and
the ability to present forcefully and coherently his
contentions, no attorney is legally required. LaMere v.
Risley, 827 F.2d 622, 626 (9th Cir. 1987).
motion, submitted on a prison form, argues that the
complexities of the issues in relation to his lengthy
sentence implicate a need for counsel to promote fairness and
justice. (ECF No. 1-2.) He asserts that he is unable to
afford counsel and his incarceration will impede his ability
to pursue his habeas claims. Counsel would assist Coots in
presenting substantive and procedural issues and ease the
Court's task of discerning the issues.
Coots has not established that the interests of justice
require the appointment of counsel. Based on the state
appellate record and the petition, the Court finds that the
facts alleged and legal issues raised are not especially
complex. Since commencing this habeas action, Coots has
submitted multiple filings and a 72-page petition,
demonstrating sufficient ability to write and articulate his
claims. Although Coots's lengthy sentence might weigh in
favor of counsel, he has not substantiated the bare
allegation that the substantive and procedural issues in this
case are too complex for his comprehension and abilities. As
to investigation or discovery, the Court's review of a 28
U.S.C. § 2254 petition is generally limited to the
record that was before the state courts. Cullen v.
Pinholster, 563 U.S. 170, 181-82 (2011). At this
juncture the Court cannot determine whether circumstances
exist in this case that would nonetheless justify a grant of
discovery, and the Court will not appoint counsel based on a
speculative possibility of discovery. Coots has not shown
that denial of counsel would violate due process, and the
motion is denied.
Amending the Petition
has not filed his petition on the appropriate form or in
substantial compliance with the form. The Habeas Rules
require that a petition: (1) specify all the grounds for
relief available to the petitioner, (2) state the facts
supporting each ground, (3) state the relief requested, (4)
be printed, typewritten, or legibly handwritten, and (5) be
signed under penalty of perjury by the petitioner. Habeas
Rule 2(c). To comply with this rule, a petitioner must state
specific particularized facts that entitle him to habeas
relief for each ground alleged. Mayle v. Felix, 545
U.S. 644, 649 (2005). The facts alleged must provide
sufficient detail to enable the court to determine, from the
face of the petition alone, whether the petition should
proceed. Adams v. Armontrout, 897 F.2d 332, 334 (8th
Cir. 1990). However, “a habeas petition should not
resemble a treatise. Effective writing is concise
writing.” Spaziano v. Singletary, 36 F.3d
1028, 1031 n.2 (11th Cir. 1994) (noting that a 376-page
habeas petition did not comply with Habeas Rule 2(c) because
of its “prolixity, ” i.e., use of more
words than necessary to express a thought).
pro se petitioners are required to submit their
petition on the court's approved form or substantially
follow the model form provided in the appendix of forms to
the Habeas Rules. LSR 3-1; Habeas Rule 2(d). The form is
important as it provides the Court with necessary information
to conduct preliminary review of the petition.
Coots's 72-page petition contains excessive legal and
factual arguments and does not provide a statement of
exhaustion for each claim. Accordingly, Coots must, within 30
days of the date of this order, file an amended petition on
the Court's form. The Court will defer screening until Coots
has fully complied with this order.
Coots chooses to file an amended petition, he is advised to
carefully follow the instructions on the form. The amended
petition should set forth the claims in short and plain
terms, simply, concisely, and directly. This means Coots
should avoid lengthy legal and factual argument as well as
excessive citations to case law. Instead, he should summarize
the information he believes to be relevant in his own words
for each claim asserted. Exhibits are not a ...