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Blackmon v. Haynes-Love

United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division

November 7, 2016

DWIGHT FRANKLIN BLACKMON, Plaintiff,
v.
HAYNES-LOVE, SPENCER BURKE, GOMEZ, JOHN DOE, and BREWER, Defendants.

          DISTRICT JUDGE LINDA V. PARKER

          MAGISTRATE JUDGE'S REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION ON MOTION TO APPOINT COUNSEL AND MOTION FOR PRELIMINARY INJUNCTION, (Docs. 20 & 21)

          Patricia T. Morris United States Magistrate Judge

         I. RECOMMENDATION

         For the reasons set forth below, IT IS RECOMMENDED that plaintiff's Motion to Appoint Counsel (Doc. 20) be DENIED WITHOUT PREJUDICE, and that his Motion for Preliminary Injunction (Doc. 21) be DENIED WITHOUT PREJUDICE.

         II. REPORT

         A. Introduction

         Plaintiff Dwight Franklin Blackmon is a state prisoner who filed a pro se complaint on July 19, 2016 alleging deliberate indifference to his serious medical needs. (Doc. 1). On that same day, plaintiff's application to proceed in forma pauperis was granted. (Doc. 2). On October 14, 2016, the case was referred to the undersigned magistrate judge. (Doc. 15). Shortly thereafter, on October 25, 2016, Plaintiff filed the instant motions for appointment of counsel and preliminary injunction. (Docs. 20-21).

         B. Motion To Appoint Counsel

         Plaintiff further asks the Court to appoint counsel to represent him because: (1) he “is unable to afford counsel”; (2) the “issues involved in this case are complex”; (3) he “has extremely limited access to the law library”; and (4) he “has limited knowledge of the law.” (Doc. 20).

         The appointment of counsel is only justified by exceptional circumstances. Lavado v. Keohane, 992 F.2d 601, 605-06 (6th Cir. 1993). In determining whether exceptional circumstances are present, the court must consider the “nature of the case, ” the complexity of the factual and legal issues involved, and the plaintiffs' ability to represent themselves. Id. at 606; see also Shavers v. Bergh, 516 F. App'x 568, 571 (6th Cir. 2013); Garrison v. Michigan Dep't of Corrections, 333 F. App'x 914, 917-18 (6th Cir. 2009). The complexity of the case and the plaintiffs' ability to handle it are “separate and distinct considerations.” Kensu v. Rapelje, No. 12-11877, 2014 WL 585328, at *2 (E.D. Mich. Feb. 14, 2014). For example, plaintiffs' prior pro se experience is relevant to their ability to manage their current cases. Id.

         If the claims are frivolous or have “extremely slim” chances of success, the court should not appoint counsel. Richmond, 450 F. App'x at 452. Courts may also decline to appoint counsel where a case has not progressed far enough to assess its merits. See, e.g., Cleary v. Mukasey, 307 F. App'x 963, 965 (6th Cir. 2009) (upholding denial where the magistrate judge thought “it was too early to assess the merits of the claim”). Nonetheless, a plaintiff “is not entitled to the appointment of counsel merely because his case may proceed to trial.” Gresham v. Granholm, No. 2:09-cv-231, 2012 WL 3126781, at *5 (W.D. Mich. July 31, 2012) (citing Lince v. Youngert, 136 F. App'x 779, 782-83 (6th Cir. 2005)); see also Zibbell v. Marquette Cnty. Res. Mgmt., No. 2:12-cv-302, 2013 WL 625062, at *13 (W.D. Mich. Feb. 20, 2013) (noting that the procedural posture of case is a consideration).

         On July 19, 2016, Plaintiff filed a competently drafted complaint with this Court. (Doc. 1). Thereafter, he submitted four motions on October 25, 2016, all of which included specific grounds for the requests buttressed by case law and statutory references. Although plaintiff's understanding of the law seems far from perfect, the legal issues at play in this case are not sufficiently complex to warrant appointment of counsel at this early stage in the proceedings. This rings especially true where, as discussed infra, the merits of the case do not clearly favor Plaintiff. For this reason, plaintiff's motion to appoint counsel should be denied.

         C. Motion for Preliminary Injunction

         Plaintiff moves for the issuance of a preliminary injunction or temporary restraining order “to ensure he is safe from any further injuries/risk due to the MDOC['s] ‘mali[ci]ous negligence'” resulting from MDOC employees' refusal to accommodate his need for a ...


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