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Allen v. Davis

United States District Court, D. South Carolina

June 12, 2018

Quincy J. Allen, Petitioner,
v.
Willie D. Davis, Warden, Kirkland Reception and Evaluation Center, Respondent.

          ORDER

          PAIGE J. GOSSETT, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         The petitioner, Quincy J. Allen (“Petitioner”), is a state prisoner sentenced to death. This matter is before the court on Petitioner's request for counsel (ECF No. 1) and motion to proceed in forma pauperis (ECF No. 5).[1] Respondent has filed a response (ECF No. 6), to which Petitioner replied (ECF No. 7).

         Motion for Leave to Proceed In Forma Pauperis

         Petitioner has filed a motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis, together with an Application to Proceed in District Court Without Prepaying Fees or Costs (Form AO-240). The court has reviewed these submissions and finds Petitioner has shown that he is indigent and qualifies to proceed in forma pauperis in this case. Accordingly, the court GRANTS Petitioner's motion to proceed in forma pauperis (ECF No. 5).

         Motion for Appointment of Counsel

         Pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 3599(a)(2), indigent death-sentenced prisoners are “entitled to the appointment of one or more attorneys” to pursue federal habeas corpus remedies. Further, “the right to counsel necessarily includes a right for that counsel meaningfully to research and present a defendant's habeas claims.” McFarland v. Scott, 512 U.S. 849, 858 (1994). Thus, § 3599 contemplates the appointment of qualified counsel prior to the filing of a petition for writ of habeas corpus. In addition, § 3599 sets forth the required qualifications for appointed counsel in capital cases:

(c) If the appointment is made after judgment, at least one attorney so appointed must have been admitted to practice in the court of appeals for not less than five years, and must have had not less than three years experience in the handling of appeals in that court in felony cases.
(d) With respect to subsection[] . . . (c), the court, for good cause, may appoint another attorney whose background, knowledge, or experience would otherwise enable him or her to properly represent the defendant, with due consideration to the seriousness of the possible penalty and to the unique and complex nature of the litigation.

         Further, this District has a plan for implementing the Criminal Justice Act, which also governs the qualifications for appointed counsel in federal capital habeas corpus proceedings. See In re Amendments to the Plan of the United States District Court for the District of South Carolina for Implementing the Criminal Justice Act, No. 3:18-mc-00199-CIV (D.S.C. June 1, 2018) (“CJA Plan”). Pursuant to the CJA Plan, this District maintains a panel of qualified attorneys available to represent indigent defendants. In recognizing the particular complexity of capital cases, the CJA Plan instructs the court, where appropriate, to utilize the expert services available through the Administrative Office of the United States (“AO”), which include capital habeas units and federal community defender offices. CJA Plan § XIV(B)(4). In addition, “[a]ll attorneys appointed in federal capital cases must be well qualified, by virtue of their training, commitment, and distinguished prior capital defense experience at the relevant stage of the proceeding, to serve as counsel in this highly specialized and demanding litigation.” Id. § XIV(B)(6). And, “[a]ll attorneys appointed in federal capital cases must have sufficient time and resources to devote to the representation, taking into account their current caseloads and the extraordinary demands of federal capital cases.” Id. § XIV(B)(7).

         Regarding appointment of counsel in capital § 2254 cases specifically, the CJA Plan offers the following guidance:

. . . .
3. Out-of-District Counsel, including federal defender organization staff, who possess the requisite expertise may be considered for appointment as co-counsel in § 2254 cases to achieve cost and other efficiencies together with high quality representation.
. . . .
6. Counsel in capital ยง 2254 cases should have distinguished prior experience in the area of federal post-conviction proceedings and in ...

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