UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT CENTRAL DISTRICT OF ILLINOIS PEORIA DIVISION
June 8, 2010
ANGELA J. WELLS, PETITIONER,
CAROLYN TRANCOSO, WARDEN, DWIGHT CORRECTIONAL FACILITY, RESPONDENT.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Joe Billy McDADE United States Senior District Judge
OPINION & ORDER
This matter is before the Court on Petitioner's renewed Motion for Appointment of Counsel*fn1 and Petitioner's Motion for Extension of Time. (Docs. 16 & 17). The Court received Petitioner's Petition under 28 U.S.C. § 2254 on December 30, 2009, and, on January 5, 2010, ordered Respondent to file a response to the Petition;*fn2 Respondent filed a Motion to Dismiss arguing that the Petition is untimely on March 29, 2010. (Docs. 1 & 5). For the reasons stated below, the Motion for Appointment of Counsel is denied without prejudice, and the Motion for Extension of Time is granted.
On January 5, 2010, the Court denied Petitioner's Motion for Appointment of Counsel, finding that Petitioner had not made the threshold attempt to secure counsel without Court intervention as required by Pruitt v. Mote, 503 F.3d 647, 654-55 (7th Cir. 2007). (Doc. 5). In her renewed Motion for Appointment of Counsel, Petitioner lists several legal assistance agencies from which she has sought pro bono counsel, and which have either not responded or have declined representation. Therefore, the Court finds that Petitioner has made the requisite attempt to secure counsel without Court intervention.
The Court must next consider whether, "given the difficulty of the case," she appears able to litigate it herself, and, if not, whether appointed counsel would be "reasonably likely to alter the outcome." Id. at 655-56, 660. Counsel may also be appointed if "the court determines that the interests of justice so require." 18 U.S.C. § 3006A(a)(2); see also 28 U.S.C. § 2254(h) ("Appointment of counsel under this section shall be governed by section 3006A of title 18."). In her Motion for Appointment of Counsel, Petitioner asserts that she suffers from depression and bipolar disorder, for which she is on psychotropic medication that prevents her "from concentrating, to simple problem solve or engage in rational thinking without being overwhelmed by a complexed [sic] or stressful situation." (Doc. 17 at 3). In addition, she asserts that all of her filings before the Court have been drafted by her husband and mailed to her only for signature and filing. On the other hand, the psychiatric treatment notes she includes as Exhibits with her instant Motions indicate the practitioner's judgment that Petitioner's cognition is normal and intact, and she stated in her original Motion for Appointment of Counsel that she has obtained her GED and that the Dwight Correctional Facility has recently hired a paralegal to assist inmates with legal research.*fn3 (Doc. 4 at 1; Doc. 17 at 10-12; Doc. 17 at 35-37). Further, by not drafting any of her own submissions to the Court, Petitioner has removed the Court's ability to gauge her abilities for itself.
In addition to the petitioner's abilities, the Court is to consider the complexity of the issues presented by the case. As Respondent's Motion to Dismiss is now pending before the Court, it is the issues raised by that Motion that are most pertinent at this time. Respondent argues that Petitioner's conviction became final on February 14, 2002 under 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d)(1)(A), and that there have been no events to toll the one-year statute of limitations applicable to this case under § 2244(d)(2). Respondent argues that, though Petitioner appears to claim that the limitations period should run from the date on which a state-created impediment to filing was removed under § 2244(d)(1)(B), Petitioner does not allege any facts supporting this argument; in addition, Respondent argues that equitable tolling is inapplicable.
Responding to these issues should not be overly complex, as Petitioner need merely explain whether she did indeed file any post-conviction motions that would toll the statute of limitations within one year of her conviction's becoming final, whether and how the state prevented her from timely filing her § 2254 Petition, or the extraordinary circumstances that should justify equitable tolling.*fn4 None of these should require extensive legal research, but only the recitation of facts within Petitioner's personal knowledge. The Court finds, therefore, that Petitioner is able to litigate her own claim at this point.*fn5
Therefore, the renewed Motion for Appointment of Counsel (Doc. 17) is DENIED WITHOUT PREJUDICE. Petitioner may renew the Motion after responding to the Motion to Dismiss if there is further information that will help the Court to determine whether counsel should be appointed at that time or if the Court finds that discovery is required; the Court will appoint counsel if an evidentiary hearing is set. In the Court's discretion, Petitioner's Motion for Extension of Time (Doc. 16) to file her Response to Respondent's Motion to Dismiss is GRANTED. Petitioner's Response to the Motion to Dismiss shall be filed 30 days from the date of this Order.
Entered this 8th day of June, 2010.