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Pitts v. United States

United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Terre Haute Division

July 7, 2015

DAVID J. PITTS, Petitioner,
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Respondent.

ENTRY CONCERNING SELECTED MATTERS

JANE MAGNUS-STINSON, District Judge.

Petitioner David J. Pitts seeks leave to conduct discovery and expand the record, requests the appointment of counsel and an evidentiary hearing, and asks for additional time to file his reply in support of his motion to vacate, set aside or correct sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255.

Discovery

A habeas petitioner is not entitled to discovery as a matter of course and thus the liberal discovery rules of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure do not apply. Bracy v. Gramley, 520 U.S. 899, 904 (1997). Rule 6(a) of the Rules Governing Section 2255 Proceedings in the United States District Court states that a judge may, for good cause, authorize a party to conduct discovery. In order for discovery to be granted in a habeas case, the petitioner must identify the essential elements of the constitutional claim, and show good cause. Bracy, 520 U.S. at 904, 908. Good cause is demonstrated "[w]here specific allegations before the court show reason to believe that the petitioner may, if the facts are fully developed, be able to demonstrate that he is... entitled to relief...." Id. ( quoting Harris v. Nelson, 394 U.S. 286, 299 (1969)). A habeas petitioner cannot use discovery for "fishing expeditions to investigate mere speculation." Calderon v. U.S. Dist. Ct. for N. Dist. of Ca., 98 F.3d 1102, 1106 (9th Cir. 1996). "Conclusory allegations are not enough to warrant discovery under Rule 6." Ward v. Whitley, 21 F.3d 1355, 1367 (5th Cir. 1994).

Pitts states that he needs the following documents:

1. Transcripts of the jury trial held February 23, 2011 through March 15, 2011.
2. Transcripts of his Sentencing held September 15, 2011.
3. Copies of all verdict forms.
4. Copies of the Notice of Prior Convictions, 21 U.S.C. § 851.
5. Copies of all documentation presented and reviewed by the Court in determining Career Offender sentencing.

He states that these records are necessary to the fair resolution of this action and that he lacks the funds to pay for the copies he requests. Specifically, he states that he needs these materials to prepare his reply.

There is no apparent connection between Pitt's document requests and the issues he raises in his motion for relief pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255. Specifically, there is no indication how the documents listed above could support Pitt's claims of ineffective assistance of counsel and there is no basis to conclude that the transcripts are needed to decide any issue presented in the motion brought pursuant to § 2255. Under these circumstances, Pitts' request for nearly every record associated with the criminal case is nothing more than a fishing expedition. Of course, if Pitts would like to purchase a copy of a transcript or other records he may do so for a fee of 50 cents per page. In addition, what was said at trial and sentencing is not a secret-Pitts and his counsel were present.

Pitts has not shown that any of the requested copies contain information necessary to his claims. Thus, he has not demonstrated good cause and his motion for leave ...


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