United States District Court, M.D. North Carolina
January 16, 2015
MELVIN BIBIAN WARNER, Petitioner,
FRANK L. PERRY, Respondent.
ORDER AND RECOMMENDATION OF UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
JOI ELIZABETH PEAKE, Magistrate Judge.
Petitioner, a prisoner of the State of North Carolina, submitted a Letter concerning his state court criminal convictions. In the Letter, it appears that Petitioner seeks to attack his convictions. However, the document he filed is not a recognizable method for achieving this goal. Instead, the proper avenue for such an attack is ordinarily a petition for habeas corpus under 28 U.S.C. § 2254. For this reason, the Court will construe the submission as a petition under 28 U.S.C. § 2254 for a writ of habeas corpus by a person in state custody. For the following reasons, the Petition cannot be further processed.
1. The filing fee was not received, nor was an affidavit to proceed in forma pauperis submitted and signed by Petitioner.
2. Petitioner has not used the required § 2254 Forms. Rule 2, R. Gov. § 2254 Cases. The Clerk will forward to Petitioner the proper forms.
Because of these pleading failures, the Petition will be filed and then dismissed, without prejudice to Petitioner filing a new petition on the proper habeas corpus forms with the $5.00 filing fee, or a completed application to proceed in forma pauperis, and otherwise correcting the defects noted. To further aid Petitioner, the Clerk is instructed to send Petitioner a new application to proceed in forma pauperis, new § 2254 forms, and instructions for filing a § 2254 petition, which Petitioner should follow.
Additionally, Petitioner seeks an appointment of counsel in his Letter. In considering this request, the Court notes first that there is no constitutional right to appointed counsel in a habeas case. See Pennsylvania v. Finley, 481 U.S. 551, 555 (1987) (holding that "the right to appointed counsel extends to the first appeal of right, and no further"); United States v. Williamson, 706 F.3d 405, 416 (4th Cir. 2013) ("[A] petitioner has no Sixth Amendment right to counsel in order to mount a collateral challenge to his conviction."); Hunt v. Nuth, 57 F.3d 1327, 1340 (4th Cir. 1995) (noting that a petitioner "had no constitutional right to an attorney during his federal habeas proceeding"). Under 28 U.S.C. § 2254 and 18 U.S.C. § 3006A, the Court, in its discretion, may appoint counsel if it "determines that the interests of justice so require." 18 U.S.C. § 3006A(a)(2). Appointment of counsel is also required if discovery is otherwise authorized and counsel is needed for effective discovery or where an evidentiary hearing is to be held. See Rules 6(a) and 8(c) of the Rules Governing Section 2254 Proceedings in the United States District Courts. Having reviewed Petitioner's request for counsel and the record in this matter, the Court does not find that appointment of counsel is required by the interests of justice or otherwise. Therefore, Petitioner's request for counsel will be denied. Should the Court later determine that discovery or an evidentiary hearing is necessary, or that the interests of justice otherwise require, the Court will appoint counsel at that time.
In forma pauperis status will be granted for the sole purpose of entering this Order and Recommendation.
IT IS THEREFORE ORDERED that Petitioner's request for counsel is denied and that in forma pauperis status is granted for the sole purpose of entering this Order and Recommendation. The Clerk is instructed to send Petitioner § 2254 forms, instructions, and a current application to proceed in forma pauperis.
IT IS RECOMMENDED that this action be construed as a habeas petition under 28 U.S.C. § 2254 and dismissed sua sponte without prejudice to Petitioner filing a new petition which corrects the defects of the current Petition. The new petition must be accompanied by either the five dollar filing fee or a current application to proceed in forma pauperis.