United States District Court, D. Idaho
PETER J. BRENNAN, Petitioner,
RANDY BLADES, Warden, Respondent.
MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER
EDWARD J. LODGE, District Judge.
Petitioner Peter J. Brennan filed a Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus and a supplement to the Petition in this action. (Dkts. 3, 25.) In two prior Orders, the Court observed that Petitioner's claims appeared to be procedurally defaulted and untimely. (Dkt. 7, 17.) The Court permitted Petitioner a stay in this case so that he could complete his successive post-conviction action. (Dkt. 17.) Upon completion of the state court case, this case was re-opened, Petitioner filed his supplement ("Brief Supporting Amended Petition"), and Respondent filed a second Motion for Summary Dismissal. (Dkt. 26.) Petitioner has since filed a Traverse, a Motion to Apply Procedural Default Exceptions, a Response to the Motion for Summary Dismissal, a Renewed Motion for Appointment of Counsel, and a Motion to Stay. (Dkt. 28, 29, 31, 32, 33.)
Having reviewed the record in this matter, including the state court record, the Court enters the following Order dismissing this case with prejudice.
MOTION FOR APPOINTMENT OF COUNSEL AND MOTION FOR STAY
In his second Motion for Appointment of Counsel, Petitioner alleges that he has several mental conditions that prevent him from being able to pursue his case, and he again requests appointment of counsel. Petitioner previously provided a 2004 medical report to the Court, as well as other information regarding his mental health issues. The Court determined that Petitioner had not shown that he was so impaired that he could not litigate his habeas corpus case in the same manner as other inmates proceeding without counsel. (Dkt. 24.)
Petitioner now asserts that his ability to understand this litigation is far below that of other prisoners. The record in Petitioner's state criminal case shows that Petitioner has some mental and cognitive issues, but that he generally has been able to function in society well, despite his issues. Petitioner had no prior criminal history. Before his conviction, he had worked as a loan officer for Countrywide Mortgage Company; at the time of his arrest, he was a commercial loan operator for Wells Fargo Bank and a website developer. (State's Lodging A-17.)
Petitioner suffered a brief period of incompetency after his arrest, and he was committed to the custody of the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare. After approximately 90 days, he was determined to be competent to proceed in his criminal case. After that date, there seems to be no mention of incompetency in the record. Petitioner filed many pleadings and papers on his own throughout his state court case. None indicate that he was unable to understand the proceedings or unable to protect his interests. The Court has reviewed Petitioner's most recent filings and finds them equal to the average prisoner litigating a habeas corpus case on his own.
There is no constitutional right to counsel in a habeas corpus action. Coleman v. Thompson, 501 U.S. 722, 755 (1991). A habeas petitioner has a right to counsel, as provided by rule, if counsel is necessary for effective discovery or if an evidentiary hearing is required in his case. See Rules 6(a) & 8(c) of the Rules Governing Section 2254 Cases. In addition, the Court may exercise its discretion to appoint counsel for an indigent petitioner in any case where required by the interests of justice. 28 U.S.C. § 2254(h); 18 U.S.C. § 3006A(a)(2)(B). Whether counsel should be appointed turns on a petitioner's ability to articulate his claims in light of the complexity of the legal issues and his likelihood of success on the merits. See Weygandt v. Look, 718 F.2d 952, 954 (9th Cir. 1983).
Petitioner's filings do not indicate that a mental deficiency is preventing him from adequately protecting his interests; rather they indicate only unfamiliarity with the finer points of habeas corpus law and procedure. Presently at issue is whether Petitioner's claims are timely. The Court sees nothing in the record that would indicate that appointing counsel for Petitioner would aid him in making an argument that his Petition was timely filed, or that the equitable tolling or actual innocence exceptions should be applied to render his filing timely. Sometimes there is simply no factual basis for contesting a defense, as seems to be the case here. In addition, Petitioner's claims are not particularly meritorious. Because Petitioner has not met the standard for appointment of counsel, the motion will be denied.
Petitioner has also requested a stay to have additional time to respond to Respondent's untimeliness argument. The Court concludes that Petitioner has had ample time to prepare a response, given that this is the third Order in two years addressing untimeliness. Therefore, the motion for a stay will be denied.
STANDARD OF LAW
Rule 4 of the Rules Governing § 2254 Cases authorizes the Court to summarily dismiss a petition for writ of habeas corpus when "it plainly appears from the face of the petition and any attached exhibits that the petitioner is not entitled to relief in the district court." In such case, the Court construes the facts in a light most favorable to the petitioner.
On habeas corpus review, it is appropriate for the Court takes judicial notice of the records from Petitioner's criminal proceedings in state court. Fed.R.Evid. 201(b); Dawson v. Mahoney, 451 F.3d 550, 551 (9th Cir. 2006).
The Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act (AEDPA), enacted April 24, 1996, established a one-year statute of limitations for federal habeas corpus actions. Particularly, 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d)(1) provides that the one-year statute of limitations is triggered by one of four events:
(A) the date on which the judgment became final by the conclusion of direct review or the expiration of the time for seeking such review;
(B) the date on which the impediment to filing an application created by State action in violation of the Constitution or laws of the United States is removed, if the applicant ...