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Cole v. McKinney

United States District Court, N.D. Iowa, Eastern Division

September 4, 2019

JAMIE LEE COLE, Petitioner,
v.
JAMES McKINNEY, Respondent.

          ORDER

          LINDA R. READER JUDGE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT

         TABLE OF CONTENTS

         I. INTRODUCTION ....................................... 1

         II. RELEVANT FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND ......... 2

         III. STANDARDS OF REVIEW ................................ 4

         A. Standard of Review under 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d)(1) .............. 6

         B. Standard of Review under 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d)(2) .............. 7

         IV. DISCUSSION.......................................... 8

         A. Right to Self-Representation............................ 8

         B. Sufficiency of the Evidence ........................... 10

         V. CERTIFICATE OF APPEALABILITY ........................ 12

         VI. CONCLUSION........................................ 13

         I. INTRODUCTION

         The matter before the court is Petitioner Jamie Lee Cole's “Petition Under 28 U.S.C. § 2254 for Writ of Habeas Corpus” (“Petition”) (docket no. 1).

         II. RELEVANT FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         The Iowa Court of Appeals provided a summary of the facts in this matter:

[Petitioner] was jailed at the Buchanan County jail facility [for a separate conviction]. The correctional officer testified [Petitioner] sat on his bed naked during the night cell check and masturbated in full view of her. She characterized his conduct as “very offensive.” The jail administrator acknowledged, “It's not unusual for inmates to masturbate” but testified they were usually “discrete about it” and, in any event, they were always required “to have their pants on.” He explained that even [Petitioner] generally stopped masturbating if he saw correctional staff. This time he did not. According to the administrator, [Petitioner] acted “different[ly]” by lying “naked . . . on his bunk knowing that [the correctional officer] was coming up the stairs.” He saw her, “look[ed] right at her, ” and continued to masturbate.

State v. Cole, 895 N.W.2d 486 (Table), 2016 WL 7403719, at *2 (Iowa Ct. App. 2016). (sixth and eighth alterations in original).

         On May 27, 2015, a Criminal Complaint was filed against Petitioner in the Iowa District Court for Buchanan County, charging Petitioner with indecent exposure enhanced as a secondary predatory offense in violation of Iowa Code section 709.9. The district court appointed an attorney to represent Petitioner. See id. at *1. At some point, Petitioner asked that his appointed attorney be removed and filed a motion to represent himself. Id. The district court held a hearing on Petitioner's motion to represent himself and the Iowa Court of Appeals summarized the hearing as follows:

[T]he district court asked [Petitioner] if he wished to “continue to request that [his attorney] be withdrawn as [his] attorney.” [Petitioner] responded, “Yes, ma'am.” The court then asked, “Let me make sure that I understand: are you wanting a new attorney appointed to represent you, or are you intending to represent yourself?” [Petitioner] responded, “I would have no problem with James Peters out of Independence being appointed.” In an effort to clarify, the court stated, “Well, when we do court-appointed counsel, you do not necessarily get to pick your attorney. My question is are you requesting the appointment of new counsel?” [Petitioner] initially responded, “No ma'am, ” but when asked if he “would agree to the appointment of Peters” if the court “were to appoint [him], [Petitioner] responded, “Correct.”

Id. (third, fourth and eighth alteration in original). The district court appointed Peters to represent Petitioner. Id. Prior to trial, Petitioner, again, filed a motion requesting that he be allowed to represent himself. Id. The district court held a hearing on the motion and Petitioner told the district court that he wanted withdraw both the motion to remove Peters as his attorney and the motion asking the court to allow him to represent himself. Id. at *1-2.

         A jury trial was held, and on August 20, 2015, the jury returned a verdict of guilty on the indecent exposure charge. On direct appeal, Petitioner argued that the district court violated his Sixth Amendment right to represent himself and that there was insufficient evidence to support the jury's guilty verdict. Id. at *1. The Iowa Court of Appeals rejected both claims. Id. at *1-2. The Iowa Supreme Court denied Petitioner's request for further review.

         On March 6, 2017, Petitioner filed the Petition in the Southern District of Iowa, and it was transferred to the Northern District of Iowa on March 7, 2017. See docket no. 1; Order Transferring Case (docket no. 3). In the Petition, Petitioner raises four claims: (1) prosecutorial misconduct; (2) ineffective assistance of counsel; (3) denial of the right to self-representation; and (4) insufficient evidence to support his conviction. See Petition at 3-5. On June 8, 2017, Respondent filed a Motion to Dismiss (docket no. 14). On August 25, 2017, Petitioner filed a “Response to Motion to Dismiss” (docket no. 17), in which he requested that the court withdraw the unexhausted prosecutorial misconduct and ineffective assistance of counsel claims. See Response to Motion to Dismiss at 1; see also docket no. 18 at 1. On February 27, 2018, the court entered an Order (docket no. 20) granting Petitioner's motion to dismiss the prosecutorial misconduct and ineffective assistance of counsel claims and allowing Petitioner to proceed with the two remaining claims, which had been properly exhausted. See February 27, 2018 Order at 5.

         Additionally, on April 27, 2019, Petitioner filed a pro se Motion to Appoint Counsel (docket no. 30). On May 23, 2019, Petitioner filed another po se Motion to Appoint Counsel (docket no. 38). In habeas proceedings, a petitioner has neither a constitutional nor statutory right to counsel. See McCall v. Benson, 114 F.3d 754, 756 (8th Cir. 1997). The appointment of counsel is at the discretion of the court. See id. As a general rule, counsel will not be appointed unless the case is unusually complex or the petitioner's ability to investigate and articulate the claims is unusually impaired or an evidentiary hearing is required. See Morris v. Dormire, 217 F.3d 556, 558-59 (8th Cir. 2000); Hoggard v. ...


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