United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania
Matthew W. Brann United States District Judge
Deeks, an inmate presently confined at the State Correctional
Institution, Waymart, Pennsylvania (SCI-Waymart) filed this
pro se habeas corpus petition pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
§ 2254. Named as Respondent is SCI-Waymart
Superintendent Jack Sommers. Petitioner challenges the
calculation of his parole violator sentence by the
Pennsylvania Board of Probation and Parole (Parole Board).
Service of the Petition was previously ordered.
has filed a response to the petition and a supporting
memorandum. Deeks thereafter filed a reply. Presently pending
is Petitioner's motion seeking appointment of counsel.
See Doc. 7.
pro se litigants have no “automatic”
constitutional or statutory rights to appointment of counsel
in a federal habeas corpus proceeding, a court does have
broad discretionary power to appoint counsel under 18 U.S.C.
§ 3006A(a)(2). Reese v. Fulcomer, 946 F.2d 247,
263 (3d Cir. 1991); Morrison v. Duckworth, 898 F.2d
1298, 1300-01 (7th Cir. 1990); Hooks v. Wainwright,
775 F.2d 1433, 1438 (11th Cir. 1985). Specifically, any
person seeking relief under 28 U.S.C. §§ 2241 or
2254 may be provided counsel, “whenever the United
States magistrate or the court determines that the interests
of justice so require” and such person is
“financially eligible.” 18 U.S.C. §
must consider several factors in deciding whether the
“interests of justice require” the appointment of
counsel for a petitioner in a habeas corpus proceeding,
including the complexity of the factual and legal issues in
the case and the pro se petitioner's ability to
investigate facts and present claims. Reese, 946
F.2d at 263 (citing Battle v. Armontrout, 902 F.2d
701, 702 (8th Cir. 1990)); see also Tabron v. Grace,
6 F.3d 147, 153 (3d Cir. 1993).
Tabron, a district court's decision whether to
appoint counsel in a civil rights action should be
“informed” by a consideration of the following
additional factors: the “difficulty of the particular
legal issues;” “the degree to which factual
investigation will be required and the ability of the
indigent plaintiff to pursue such investigation;”
whether a case is likely to turn on credibility
determinations; whether expert testimony is required; and
whether the litigant is capable of retaining counsel on his
or her own behalf. Id. at 156, 157 n. 5. The United
States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit has reiterated
that the criteria developed in Tabron should be
employed in addressing the appointment of counsel issue.
Montgomery v. Pinchak, 294 F.3d 492, 498 (3d Cir.
2002) (citation omitted).
respect to federal habeas corpus actions, it has been held
that there was no abuse of discretion in failing to appoint
counsel when no evidentiary hearing was required and the
issues in the case had been narrowed, see Terrovona v.
Kincheloe, 912 F.2d 1176, 1177 (9th Cir. 1990),
cert. denied, 499 U.S. 979 (1991), or the issues
were “straightforward and capable of resolution on the
record, ” Ferguson v. Jones, 905 F.2d 211, 214
(8th Cir. 1990), or the petitioner had “a good
understanding of the issues and the ability to present
forcefully and coherently his contentions.” LaMere
v. Risley, 827 F.2d 622, 626 (9th Cir. 1987).
case, there appear to be no circumstances which warrant the
appointment of counsel at this time. This Court's liberal
construction of pro se pleadings, e.g.,
Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972), coupled
with Petitioner's apparent ability to litigate this
action pro se, militate against the appointment of
counsel. Moreover, the legal issues are relatively
uncomplicated, and the Court can not say, at least at this
point, that Petitioner will suffer prejudice if he is forced
to prosecute this case on his own. It is also noted that this
matter is presently ripe for consideration.
upon those considerations, Deeks' motion for appointment
of counsel will be denied. In the event, however, that future
proceedings demonstrate the need for counsel, the matter may
be reconsidered either sua sponte or upon a motion
properly filed by the Petitioner.
IS HEREBY ORDERED that:
motion (Doc. 7) seeking appointment of counsel is DENIED.