Case Caption: Luis Melendez v. People of the Virgin IslandsCase Number: S. Ct. Civ. No. 2014-0002Date: 06/30/2014Author: Per CuriamCitation: Summary:

An order denying a habeas corpus petitioner's request for court-appointed counsel, and dismissing the underlying petition with prejudice, is reversed. Pursuant to V.I.S.CT. I.O.P. 9.4 this Court may, on motion of a party or sua sponte, summarily reverse a decision of the Superior Court without full briefing by the parties if it clearly appears that no substantial question is presented or that subsequent precedent or a change in circumstances warrants such action. While the court below essentially treated the motion as a free-standing application for appointment of counsel, even the most cursory review reveals that appellant did not simply allege a naked claim of indigence, but also claimed inadequacy of prison law library legal resources bearing upon a prisoner's fundamental right to meaningful access to the courts. Even assuming-without deciding-that the Superior Court correctly held that indigence, without more, does not justify appointment of counsel in a habeas corpus case, there can be no justification for dismissing, without any investigation or analysis, appellant's claim that his prison does not provide him with sufficient resources to prosecute a pro se habeas corpus petition. Accordingly, the Superior Court's Order of November 15, 2013 Order is summarily reversed, and the matter is remanded for further consideration of the appellant's claims.

Attachment: Open Document or Opinion