United States District Court, N.D. Texas, Dallas Division
SALVADOR GONZALES BOP Register No. 09892-078, Petitioner,
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Respondent.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
L. HORAN UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Salvador Gonzales, a federal prisoner, proceeding pro se,
moves to vacate, set aside, or correct his sentence under 28
U.S.C. § 2255. See Dkt. No. 2. This action has been
referred to the undersigned United States magistrate judge
for pretrial management under 28 U.S.C. § 636(b) and a
standing order of reference from Chief Judge Barbara M. G.
motion, Gonzales's first Section 2255 motion concerning
this criminal judgment, appears to be timely under 28 U.S.C.
§ 2255(f)(1) and includes a 36-page brief written in
Spanish. See Dkt. No. 2 at 11-46; see also Id. at 47
(“I am proceeding pro-se with the assistance of a
bi-lingual fellow inmate. Because I don't speak English,
and because the Court assigned an interpreter all along the
proceeding, and because I had to sign this Motion under
penalty of perjury, and the only language I understand is
Spanish, ... my Motion's facts in support of its Grounds
for relief is written in Spanish, excuse me for the
inconvenience for your Office and the Court.”).
review of the brief and Gonzales's financial affidavit,
filed in response to the Court's March 3, 2017 notice of
deficiency and order, see Dkt. Nos. 3 & 4, the Court
concludes sua sponte that the interests of justice require
the translation of the Spanish-only brief.
Standards and Analysis
constitutional right to counsel exists in federal
postconviction proceedings.” Urias v. Thaler,
455 F. App'x 522, 523 (5th Cir. 2011) (per curiam)
(citing Pennsylvania v. Finley, 481 U.S. 551, 555
(1987)); see also United States v. Garcia, 689 F.3d
362, 364-65 (5th Cir. 2012). But, under the Criminal Justice
Act (the “CJA”), “a [habeas] petitioner
should be appointed counsel when ‘the interests of
justice so require.'” Urias, 455 F. App'x at
523 (quoting 18 U.S.C. § 3006A(a)(2)(B)).
The exercise of discretion in this area is guided ... by
certain basic principles. When applying this standard and
exercising its discretion in this field, the court should
determine both whether the petition presents significant
legal issues, and if the appointment of counsel will benefit
the petitioner and the court in addressing this claim.
Jackson v. Coleman, Civil No. 3:11-cv-1837, 2012 WL
4504485, at *4 (M.D. Pa. Oct. 2, 2012) (citing Reese v.
Fulcomer, 946 F.2d 247, 263 (3d Cir. 1991)); see
Scoggins v. MacEachern, Civ. A. No. 04-10814-PBS, 2010
WL 3169416, at *1 (D. Mass. Aug. 10, 2010) (“In order
to obtain appointed counsel, ‘an indigent litigant must
demonstrate exceptional circumstances in his or her case to
justify the appointment of counsel.' The rare cases
warranting appointment of counsel in the interests of justice
typically involve nonfrivolous claims with factually and/or
legally complex issues and a petitioner who is severely
hampered in his ability to investigate the facts.”
(quoting Cookish v. Cunningham, 787 F.2d 1, 2 (1st
Cir. 1986); other citations omitted)); see also Lyle v.
United States, Civ. A. No. JFM-09-727 & Crim. No.
JFM-02-395, 2009 WL 901523, at *1 (D. Md. Mar. 31, 2009) (the
decision to appoint counsel under “§
3006A(a)(2)(B) ... is similar to the standard applied in
deciding whether to appoint counsel under 28 U.S.C. §
1915(e)(1), wherein the determination to appoint counsel
hinges on the characteristics of the claim and the
litigant” (citing Whisenant v. Yuam, 739 F.2d
160, 163 (4th Cir. 1984))).
“under the CJA[, a party, ] may move for the
translation of documents if they are necessary for adequate
representation.” United States v. Wattanasiri,
141 F.3d 1152 (table), 1998 WL 105769, at *2 (2d Cir. Mar. 9,
1998) (per curiam) (first discussing 18 U.S.C. §
3006A(e)(1); then citing United States v. Mosquera,
816 F.Supp. 168, 174 (E.D.N.Y. 1993)). Indeed, Section
3006A(e)(1), which provides that counsel for a person
“who is financially unable to obtain investigative,
expert, or other services necessary for adequate
representation may request them in an ex parte application,
” id., may be the only statutory means to authorize
funds for the translation of documents in this case, see,
e.g., United States v. Flores, No. 1:10CR332-2, 2012 WL
1463602, at *8-*9 (M.D. N.C. Apr. 27, 2012) (concluding that,
even if the Court Interpreters Act, 28 U.S.C. § 1827,
was otherwise applicable to the judicial proceedings, a court
should be “‘reluctant to interpret
“interpreters” loosely to include translators of
written documents'” (quoting Extra Equipamentos
E Exportacao Ltda. v. Case Corp., 541 F.3d 719, 727 (7th
Cir. 2008))); see also Gibson v. Jackson, 578 F.2d
1045, 1052 (5th Cir. 1978) (Rubin, J., addendum to opinion)
(suggesting that, “if the need for expert witnesses is
shown, federal funds for their services” may be
authorized under Section 3006A(e)(1) in a habeas action under
28 U.S.C. § 2254); Dixon v. Admin. Appeal Dep't
Office of Info. & Privacy, No. 06 Civ. 6069(LAK),
2008 WL 216304, at *8 (S.D.N.Y. Jan. 22, 2008) (“A
person whose criminal conviction has been finalized might
still be eligible for the services authorized under [Section
3006A(e)(1)], provided that they are in aid of a pending
habeas petition under sections 2241 or 2255.” (citing
18 U.S.C. § 3006A(a)(2))).
with Gonzales's 36-page brief in Spanish, the Court
begins by noting that
[n]either statutes nor administrative rules provide guidance
on whether pleadings must be written in English. While no
statute explicitly permits the filing of pleadings written in
languages besides English, there also is no federal statute
requiring pleadings to be written in English. And the
[Northern] District of Texas has not adopted a local rule
requiring pleadings to be in English or accompanied by an
English translation. When an issue is not covered by a rule,
the district courts are to regulate their practice in any
manner not inconsistent with the Federal Rules of Civil
Procedure or local rules. Fed.R.Civ.P. 83.
Gomez v. Myers, 627 F.Supp. 183, 184 (E.D. Tex.
the undersigned nor a member of his staff is fluent in
Spanish. And the Court is not prepared to serve
Gonzales's motion on the United States expecting that the
government will pay to translate the brief. Cf. Wattanasiri,
1998 WL 105769, at *2 (“The [United States] Supreme
Court has stated that the expenditure of public funds is
proper only when authorized by Congress. There is no specific
statute that allows a district court to order the ...