Bishop v. HallAnnotate this Case
Following the habeas court’s denial of his petition for habeas corpus relief, Richard Bishop filed an application for certificate of probable cause with the Georgia Supreme Court. The Court granted Bishop’s application to determine whether he was provided a full and fair hearing on his petition for writ of habeas corpus below. Shortly after shooting and killing his girlfriend and injuring her other boyfriend in 2009, then-76-year-old Bishop was arrested. Twelve days later, representing himself, Bishop pled guilty to malice murder and aggravated assault. He was sentenced to life in prison, plus twenty years to run concurrently. In 2014, then 81 years old, Bishop filed for habeas relief, asking for "assistance" from the court because he was unable to read (even with glasses), and had questions for the attorney to helped him at his plea hearing. The Warden filed an objection to the motion for assistance, arguing that there was no authority for the habeas court to provide Bishop with counsel. Bishop responded and clarified that he was not requesting that counsel be appointed, he simply needed someone to read for him. Though the habeas court acknowledged Bishop’s eye problems, it initially treated Bishop’s request as one for the appointment of counsel and found that Bishop was not entitled to any such appointment. The habeas court went on to express concern that Bishop’s written questions were conceived by an inmate other than Bishop, as the habeas court apparently recognized the handwriting. The Warden then objected to Bishop’s motion and his use of the pre-prepared questions, and the habeas court declined Bishop’s request to have someone read the proposed questions on Bishop’s behalf. The Georgia Supreme Court concluded that under the circumstances of this case, conceded by the Warden, the appointment of a reader for Bishop in light of his undisputed visual impairment, was necessary to satisfy his due process right to a full and fair hearing. The Court vacated the ruling of the habeas court and remanded this case for a new hearing.