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Taylor v. State

United States District Court, D. Utah

April 8, 2019

ROY D. TAYLOR Petitioner,
STATE OF UTAH, Respondent.


          CLARK WADDOUPS JUDGE United States District Court

         Petitioner, Roy D. Taylor, an inmate at Utah State Prison, filed a third amended pro se habeas-corpus petition. See 28 U.S.C.S. § 2254 (2019). Reviewing the Third Amended Petition, (Doc No. 37), the Court concludes that it must be amended to cure the below deficiencies if Petitioner wishes to further pursue his claims.


         Third Amended Petition:

(a) is not on the form required by and provided to Petitioner by this Court.
(b) has claims appearing to be based on the illegality of Petitioner's current confinement; however, the petition was apparently not submitted using the legal help Petitioner is entitled to by his institution under the Constitution--e.g., by contract attorneys. See Lewis v. Casey, 518 U.S. 343, 356 (1996) (requiring prisoners be given "'adequate law libraries or adequate assistance from persons trained in the law' . . . to ensure that inmates . . . have a reasonably adequate opportunity to file nonfrivolous legal claims challenging their convictions or conditions of confinement") (quoting Bounds v. Smith, 430 U.S. 817, 828 (1977) (emphasis added)).


         Under Rule 8 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure an initial pleading is required to contain "(1) a short and plain statement of the grounds upon which the court's jurisdiction depends, . . . (2) a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief, and (3) a demand for judgment for the relief the pleader seeks." Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a). The requirements of Rule 8(a) are intended to guarantee "that [respondents] enjoy fair notice of what the claims against them are and the grounds upon which they rest." TV Commc'ns Network, Inc. v. ESPN, Inc., 767 F.Supp. 1062, 1069 (D. Colo. 1991), aff'd, 964 F.2d 1022 (10th Cir. 1992).

         Pro se litigants are not excused from compliance with the minimal pleading requirements of Rule 8. "This is so because a pro se [litigant] requires no special legal training to recount the facts surrounding his alleged injury, and he must provide such facts if the court is to determine whether he makes out a claim on which relief can be granted." Hall v. Bellmon, 935 F.2d 1106, 1009 (10th Cir. 1991). Moreover, "it is not the proper function of the Court to assume the role of advocate for a pro se litigant." Id. at 1110. Thus, the Court cannot "supply additional facts, [or] construct a legal theory for [petitioner] that assumes facts that have not been pleaded." Dunn v. White, 880 F.2d 1188, 1197 (10th Cir. 1989).

         Petitioner should consider the following general points before refiling his petition. First, the revised petition must stand entirely on its own and shall not refer to, or incorporate by reference, any portion of the original or first amended petition or any other documents previously filed by Petitioner. See Murray v. Archambo, 132 F.3d 609, 612 (10th Cir. 1998) (amendment supersedes original). Second, Petitioner must clearly state whom his custodian is and name that person (a warden or ultimate supervisor of an imprisonment facility) as the respondent. See R. 2, Rs. Governing § 2254 Cases in the U.S. Dist. Courts. Third, Petitioner may generally not bring civil-rights claims as to the conditions of his confinement in a habeas-corpus petition. Fourth, any claims about Petitioner's underlying conviction and/or sentencing should be brought under 28 U.S.C.S. § 2254 (2019); any claims about the execution of Petitioner's sentence should be brought under id. § 2241. Fifth, Petitioner should seek help to prepare initial pleadings from legal resources (e.g., contract attorneys) available where he is held.


         The Court now evaluates Petitioner's motion for appointed counsel. The Court initially notes that Petitioner has no constitutional right to appointed pro bono counsel in a federal habeas corpus case. See United States v. Lewis, No. 97-3135-SAC, 91-10047-01-SAC, 1998 WL 1054227, at *3 (D. Kan. December 9, 1998). Moreover, because no evidentiary hearing is required here, Petitioner has no statutory right to counsel. See Rule 8(c), R. Governing § 2254 Cases in U.S. Dist. Courts. However, the Court may in its discretion appoint counsel when "the interests of justice so require" for a "financially eligible person" bringing a § 2254 petition. See 18 U.S.C.S. § 3006A(a)(2)(B) (2019).

         The Court has reviewed the filings in this case and determines that justice does not require appointed counsel at this time. First, it is yet unclear that Petitioner has asserted any colorable claims. See Lewis, 1998 WL 1054227, at *3; Oliver v. United States, 961 F.2d 1339, 1343 (7th Cir. 1992). Second, Petitioner has shown "the ability to investigate the facts necessary for [the] issues and to articulate them in a meaningful fashion.” Lewis, 1998 WL 1054227, at *3; Oliver, 961 F.2d at 1343. Finally, the issues in this case appear "straightforward and not so complex as to require counsel's ...

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