United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
Tarnow, District Judge.
ORDER DENYING WITHOUT PREJUDICE PLAINTIFF'S
MOTION FOR APPOINTMENT OF COUNSEL (DE 8)
ANTHONY P. PATTI UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
matter is before the Court for consideration of Plaintiff
Willie Wright's motion for appointment of counsel. (DE
8.) For the reasons that follow, Plaintiff's motion is
DENIED WITHOUT PREJUDICE.
a state prisoner who is proceeding in forma
pauperis, brings this lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. §
1983, alleging claims of a lack of due process and violations
of the Equal Protection Clause of the United States
Constitution stemming from alleged reports made by Defendants
to the public regarding Plaintiff's escape/attempted
escape from custody at the Detroit Medical Center. (DE 1.) He
names five Defendants, including the Detroit Medical Center
and four members of the Wayne County Sheriff's Office. To
date, the four sheriff's office employees have filed an
answer (DE 9) and a motion to dismiss (DE 10), each of which
was filed on October 5, 2016. The Detroit Medical Center has
not answered or otherwise appeared.
filed this motion for appointment of counsel on September 23,
2016. (DE 8.) He asks the Court to appoint an attorney in
this civil matter because he is unable to afford counsel and
his imprisonment impinges on his ability to litigate the case
preliminary matter, although Plaintiff styles his motion as
one for appointment of counsel, the Court does not have the
authority to appoint a private attorney for Plaintiff in this
civil matter. Proceedings in forma pauperis are
governed by 28 U.S.C. § 1915, which provides that
“[t]he court may request an attorney to
represent any person unable to afford counsel.” 28
U.S.C. § 1915(e)(1) (emphasis added). However, even if
the circumstances of Plaintiff's case convinced the Court
to engage in such a search, “[t]here is no right to
recruitment of counsel in federal civil litigation, but a
district court has discretion to recruit counsel
under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(1).” Dewitt v.
Corizon, Inc., 760 F.3d 654, 657 (7th Cir. 2014)
(emphasis added); see also Olson v. Morgan, 750 F.3d
708, 712 (7th Cir. 2014) (“Congress hasn't provided
lawyers for indigent prisoners; instead it gave district
courts discretion to ask lawyers to volunteer their services
in some cases.”).
Supreme Court has held that there is a presumption that
“an indigent litigant has a right to appointed counsel
only when, if he loses, he may be deprived of his physical
liberty.” Lassiter v. Dep't of Soc.
Servs., 452 U.S. 18, 26-27 (1981). With respect to
prisoner civil rights cases in particular, the Court of
Appeals for the Sixth Circuit has held that “there is
no right to counsel. . . . The appointment of counsel in a
civil proceeding is justified only by exceptional
circumstances.” Bennett v. Smith, 110 F.
App'x 633, 635 (6th Cir. 2004).Accordingly, although the
Court has the statutory authority to request counsel for
pro se plaintiffs in civil cases under 28 U.S.C.
§ 1915(e), the exercise of this authority is limited to
evaluating a matter for “exceptional circumstances,
” a court should consider: (1) the probable merit of
the claims, (2) the nature of the case, (3) the complexity of
the legal and factual issues raised, and (4) the ability of
the litigant to represent him or herself. Lince v.
Youngert, 136 F. App'x 779, 782 (6th Cir. 2005);
Lavado v. Keohane, 992 F.2d 601, 605-06 (6th Cir.
1993); Lanier v. Bryant, 332 F.3d 999, 1006 (6th
the foregoing authority, Plaintiff has not described
circumstances sufficient to justify a request for appointment
of counsel. Plaintiff contends that he is indigent and unable
to afford counsel and that his imprisonment will limit his
ability to litigate this case, especially his ability to
engage in discovery. Such factors would apply to nearly every
pro se prisoner proceeding in forma
pauperis, and do not constitute extraordinary
circumstances. Further, the claims in Plaintiff's
complaint do not appear to involve especially complex issues.
Moreover, Plaintiff's complaint illustrates his ability
to articulate his claims in a coherent manner and even the
instant motion is clear in outlining his reasons for
requesting the appointment of counsel. Finally, there is no
indication that Plaintiff will be deprived of his physical
liberty over and above his current sentence if he loses this
at this time, Plaintiff's motion to appoint counsel is
DENIED WITHOUT PREJUDICE. (DE 8.) Plaintiff may petition the
Court for the recruitment of pro bono counsel if
this case survives dispositive motion practice, proceeds to
trial, or if other circumstances demonstrate such a need in
IS SO ORDERED.
hereby certify that a copy of the foregoing document sent to
parties of record on October 19, 2016, ...