United States District Court, D. Nevada
C. JONES, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
a habeas corpus proceeding under 28 U.S.C. § 2254
brought by Petitioner Joel Ross Sempier, a pro se
Nevada prisoner. Currently before the Court are Sempier's
Motion for Appointment of Counsel (ECF No. 20) and Motion for
Extension of Time (ECF No. 39).
completing a direct appeal and post-conviction proceedings
before Nevada courts, Sempier commenced this federal habeas
corpus proceeding pro se in October 2018. (ECF No.
1.) Upon initial screening of his Petition for Writ of Habeas
Corpus (ECF No. 10), the Court dismissed Count 8 and directed
a response on the remaining claims. (ECF No. 9.) Respondents
filed an Answer (ECF No. 21) to the petition on September 9,
2019. Pursuant to the scheduling order, Sempier's merits
reply is due by October 9, 2019. He now requests an
additional 60 days to reply. Good cause appearing, the Motion
for Enlargement of Time (ECF No. 39) is
to Sempier's motion for appointment of counsel, the Court
notes that this is his second request for counsel. In an
order entered April 18, 2019 (ECF No. 13), Sempier's
first motion for appointment of counsel was denied for
multiple reasons. He asserted he could not represent himself
due to anxiety, dyslexia, a need for discovery, and a lack of
training in the law and legal procedures. The Court found
that although his “mental health and learning
disabilities might weigh in favor of counsel, petitioner
ha[d] not substantiated his allegations that he suffers from
these conditions and d[id] not explain how these conditions
affect his ability to represent himself.” (Id.
at 2.) Furthermore, Sempier's lack of legal training and
a purported need for discovery were not sufficient reasons to
appoint counsel at that time. (Id.) Recognizing that
Sempier is serving a lengthy sentence, but the issued
presented in this case are not particularly complex, he
failed to persuade the Court that the interests of justice
required the appointment of counsel. (Id.)
is no constitutional right to appointed counsel in a federal
habeas corpus proceeding. McClasky v. Zant, 499 U.S.
467, 495 (1991) (citing Pennsylvania v. Finley, 481
U.S. 551, 555 (1987)). However, an indigent petitioner
seeking relief under 28 U.S.C. § 2254 may request the
appointment of counsel to pursue federal habeas 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 proceedings under § 2254 is
addressed to the sound discretion of the trial court.
Id. When a habeas petitioner has a good
understanding of the issues and the ability to forcefully and
coherently present his contentions, no attorney is legally
required. LaMere v. Risley, 827 F.2d 622, 626 (9th
current motion reasserts that Sempier has dyslexia, which
allegedly disturbs his ability to understand, pronounce,
interpret, translate, and use vocabulary. (ECF No. 20 at 5.)
He claims his condition does not affect his daily life but
will impair his ability to prepare his own pleadings.
(Id.) Sempier states that he has received assistance
with all filings thus far, and preparing a reply brief
without counsel “might take him months and it is
unclear if the court would be able to understand the
pleading.” (Id.) Attached to the motion is a
report of psychological examination dated April 23, 2007.
(Id. at 14-31.) Sempier also reasserts that counsel
is necessary to conduct discovery, but further states that
the telephone recording he wants this Court to review
“is within the trial court record.” (Id.
Court finds that the interests of justice do not require
counsel to be appointed in this case. The psychological
report Sempier submitted appears to support a diagnosis of
dyslexia; however, it also reveals “low average
intelligence” and relative success on multiple test
tasks, including oral vocabulary, word usage and ability to
understand word meanings, nonverbal conceptual reasoning and
ability to engage in sophisticated, fluid reasoning with
pattern analysis tasks. (Id. at 21.) The record does
not support Sempier's assertion that the Court may not be
able to understand his filings. His filings to date have been
intelligible and clear. He has demonstrated that he can
forcefully and coherently present his claims without counsel,
and those claims are not particularly complex. Indeed,
Sempier has managed to file an application to proceed in
forma pauperis, a habeas petition, and several motions
all without the assistance of counsel. The Court understands
that Sempier's condition may require additional time to
complete briefing and has granted his request for enlargement
of time accordingly. Should he discover that the new reply
deadline, December 9, 2019, is not feasible, he may move for
the appointment of counsel is not required under Rule 5 of
the Rules Governing Rules Governing Section 2254
Cases because discovery is unnecessary. The
Court's review of a § 2254 petition is generally
limited to the record that was before the state courts.
Cullen v. Pinholster, 563 U.S. 170, 181-82 (2011).
Sempier's motion states that the telephone recording he
seeks is in the state court record. Thus, discovery
procedures are inapplicable.
IS THEREFORE ORDERED:
Petitioner Joel Ross Sempier's Motion for Enlargement of
Time (ECF No. 39) is GRANTED. Sempier's Reply (ECF No.
40) is considered timely filed.
Sempier's Motion for Appointment of Counsel (ECF No. 20)
 On November 8, 2019, Sempier
erroneously filed his reply in a different habeas matter,
3:18-cv-0453-MMD-WGC. Because the reply appears to respond to
Respondents' answer in the instant case, the Court
instructed the Clerk of Court to file the reply in this case.
Sempier's reply (ECF No. 40) was docketed on November ...