My name is Richard Valdez, and I’m a Death Row prisoner at San Quentin State Prison reaching out for help to find competent state habeas counsel to represent me on my appeal.
Due to Prop 66’s passing and enactment, the state agencies and courts who were once responsible for finding condemned inmates appointed counsel were stripped to this ability. Prop 66 was sold to the voters as a way to speed up the death penalty process. But instead, they actually made the process even slower, and it now subjects many of us pending appeals to unconstitutional delays.
Prop 66 mandated that California’s Death Row inmates’ appeals be handled by the courts in the counties from which they originate. It also made it so that it became the county’s court system’s responsibility to appoint counsel to those awaiting appointments. This burden was placed on individual counties by Prop 66 without any viable plan for how or when to obtain funding for such appointments. To date, no funds have been allocated to pay for such appointments. There’s also been no attempts by individual counties to come up with a pay scale for appointed counsel. And there has been no attempts by counties to find competent counsel to represent condemned inmates in their appeals.
My case is one of 25 of California’s oldest which is pending appeal and has never had state habeas counsel appointed to it in over 20 years. It has almost been a decade since my direct appeal was heard and upheld with no habeas counsel ever being appointed. To date, the LA Superior Court has stayed my appointment of counsel, five times due to there not having proper funding to do so, not having the pay scale available for such appointments, and not being able to find competent counsel for these appeals.
Had prop 66 not passed, I would have been appointed to habeas counsel within one to two years after my direct appeal was heard and upheld by the courts. It is not for lack of trying. Over the years, I’ve made many efforts to find counsel on my own. I’ve written lawyers and legal groups to no avail. This is why I’m now reaching out in this manner. I need help.
If there is anyone out there who can possibly assist me in this matter, your help is greatly appreciated and needed. I must clarify: I cannot afford to pay an attorney. If I had the means to, I probably would have never ended up on death row in the first place. What I’m seeking is assistance in finding competent pro bono state habeas representation if this can be found.
Anyone seeking to help can get in touch with me at the following address: Richard A. Valdez CDCR 8569901, 4EB105L, California State Prison San Quentin, San Quentin, CA, 94974. You can also reach out to me by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. If attempting to contact me by email, please allow two to three days for a response because I have to go through a second party due to not having access to a computer. However, I am allowed access to making collect phone calls.
These commentaries are recorded by Prison Radio.