United States District Court, W.D. North Carolina, Charlotte Division
TERRANCE L. JAMES-BEY, Petitioner,
RENOICE E. STANCIL, Respondent.
D. WHITNEY CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
MATTER is before the Court upon a motion by Ben
Finholt, Attorney with North Carolina Prisoner Legal
Services, Inc. (“NCPLS”), to withdraw as counsel
for Terrence L. James-Bey. (Doc. No. 39.) Also before the
Court are Petitioner's pro se Motion to Lift Stay, Motion
to Dismiss Counsel, Motion for Recusal (Doc. No. 41) and pro
se Supplemental Motion to Recuse (Doc. No. 42).
is a prisoner of the State of North Carolina serving a life
sentence for first-degree murder. In 2011, Petitioner filed a
§ 2254 Petition in this Court, claiming that the State
of North Carolina cannot lawfully exert jurisdiction over him
because he is a “Moorish-American national with
permanent character.” See June 3, 2011 §
2254 Pet. 3, James-Bey v. State of North Carolina, et
al., No. 1:11-cv-00136-RJC (W.D. N.C. ), Doc. No. 1. The
Court dismissed the Petition because it was meritless.
See Order, id. at Doc. No. 9.
24, 2013, Petitioner, through counsel Sarah Jessica Farber of
NCPLS, filed a successive § 2254 habeas petition in this
Court raising an Eighth Amendment claim under Miller
v. Alabama, 132 S.Ct. 2455 (2012). Simultaneously,
counsel filed a motion to stay the § 2254 petition (Doc.
No. 2) and a Motion for Leave to Appear Pro Hac Vice by
attorney Frederick Liu, (Doc. No. 3). Counsel sought to place
Petitioner's habeas petition in abeyance pending
adjudication of his Motion for Appropriate Relief filed in
Cleveland County Superior Court, in which he claimed he
received a mandatory sentence of life without parole as a
juvenile, in violation of the Eighth Amendment. This Court
granted both motions. (Doc. No. 5.)
20, 2017, attorney Ben Finholt filed a notice of substitution
for Sarah Jessica Farber. (Doc. No. 11.) On September 12,
2017, the Court granted attorney Mitchell Reich's motion
for leave to appear for Petitioner pro hac vice and Frederick
Liu's motion to withdraw as Petitioner's attorney.
(Doc. No. 17).
in 2015, Petitioner has repeatedly filed frivolous pro se
motions, averments, and declarations in this case based upon
a “Moorish Nation” jurisdiction theory,
see Doc. Nos. 6-8, 12, 18-19, 24, all of which have
been dismissed because he is represented by counsel,
see Doc. Nos. 9, 16, 20. In June 2018, Petitioner
filed several documents notifying the Court that he refused
to recognize Mitchell Reich, or any other attorney from
Reich's law firm, as his legal representative and
directing the Court to reject any filings from Reich. (Doc.
Nos. 21, 22.) These were followed by a pro se motion to
dismiss counsel, see Doc. Nor. 23, and a motion from
Reich to withdraw as counsel, see Doc. No. 24. On
July 9, 2018, the Court granted Mitchell Reich's motion
to withdraw as counsel for Petitioner. (Doc. No. 25.)
similar pattern ensued with counsel Finholt, wherein
Petitioner has sought through filings with this Court, to
terminate Finholt's representation. According to
Finholt's Motion to Withdraw, he repeatedly wrote to
Petitioner seeking clarification of his status as counsel.
His letters went unanswered until March 5, 2019, when he
received a letter from Petitioner stating unambiguously that
Petitioner did not wish Finholt to represent him.
Accordingly, Finholt filed the instant motion to withdraw as
Petitioner filed the instant pro se motions to lift stay,
dismiss counsel, and to recuse. He has made other filings
that are not relevant here, some of which will be addressed
by separate order.
Motion to Withdraw as Counsel
defendant has no right to counsel in post-conviction
proceedings. Pennsylvania v. Finley, 481 U.S. 551,
555 (1987). However, the court has discretion to appoint
counsel to a financially eligible person when “the
interests of justice so require.” 18 U.S.C. §
3006A(a)(2)(B). This Court did not appoint counsel for
Petitioner, however, and he has never sought appointment of
counsel in this action. Rather, Petitioner already was
represented by counsel when his § 2254 Petition was
U.S.C. § 2242, Congress codified the “next
friend” doctrine, which provides that a habeas petition
may be brought “by the person for whose relief it is
intended or by someone acting in his behalf.”
Id. “[I]n keeping with the ancient tradition
of the doctrine, ” the Supreme Court has concluded that
“one necessary condition for ‘next friend'
standing in federal court is a showing by the proposed
‘next friend' that the real party in interest is
unable to litigate his own cause due to mental incapacity,
lack of access to court, or other similar disability.”
Whitmore v. Arkansas, 495 U.S. 149, 165 (1990).
Thus, both the common law and federal statutory law allow for
pursuit of habeas corpus relief on behalf of an incompetent
Petitioner's adherence to frivolous legal theories
ultimately may be detrimental to the success of his habeas
Petition, that does not mean that he is incompetent to
proceed. None of his attorneys in this civil action have
raised a concern in this Court about Petitioner's
competency. Accordingly, counsel Finholt's Motion to
Withdraw as Counsel is granted; Petitioner's ...