United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
VINCENT P. CLINE, Plaintiff,
DERAMUS FRANCE, Defendant.
V. Parker District Judge.
ORDER DENYING WITHOUT PREJUDICE PLAINTIFF'S
MOTION FOR APPOINTMENT OF COUNSEL (DE 15)
ANTHONY P. PATTI UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
matter is before the Court for consideration of Plaintiff
Vincent P. Cline's motion for appointment of counsel. (DE
15.) For the reasons that follow, Plaintiff's motion to
appoint counsel is DENIED WITHOUT PREJUDICE
to renewal after the case has proceeded past its initial
a state prisoner who is proceeding in forma
pauperis, brings claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983,
alleging that Defendant, Corrections Medical Officer Deramus
France, violated Plaintiff's Eighth Amendment right
against cruel and unusual punishment by assaulting him on
June 8, 2015 while he was housed at the Woodland Center
Correctional Facility (WCC). Defendant France has been served
and has filed Affirmative Defenses (DE 13), to which
Plaintiff has responded. (DE 14.)
filed the instant motion on June 16, 2017, asking the Court
to appoint an attorney in this civil matter for five main
reasons. (DE 15.) First, Plaintiff notes that he is indigent
and not able to afford counsel. Second, he asserts that that
the issues involved in this case are complex. Third,
Plaintiff states that the prison limits the hours that he may
have access to the prison library, and that he has limited
knowledge of the law. Fourth, Plaintiff asserts he has a
history of multiple mental illnesses, which make it difficult
for him to effectively litigate this case. And fifth, he
claims that the ends of justice would best be served if an
attorney were appointed.
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
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.”).
The appointment of counsel in a civil case, therefore,
“is a privilege not a right.” Childs v.
Pellegrin, 822 F.2d 1382, 1384 (6th Cir. 1987) (internal
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 any
circumstances to justify a request for appointment of counsel
at this time. Plaintiff contends that he is indigent and
unable to afford counsel and his imprisonment will limit his
ability to litigate this case, including 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, even taking Plaintiff's claimed mental
illness into account. Further, despite Plaintiff's claim
to the contrary, the claims in Plaintiff's complaint to
not appear to be particularly complex and are ably described
by Plaintiff, involving an allegation of cruel and unusual
punishment related to the claimed June 8, 2015 assault.
Moreover, Plaintiff's Complaint illustrates his ability
to articulate his claims and adequately communicate his
requests to the Court in a coherent manner, and even the
instant motion is clear in outlining his reasons for
requesting the appointment of counsel. (DE 15 at 3-5.)
Finally, there is no indication that Plaintiff will be
deprived of his physical liberty over and above his current
sentence if he loses this civil case.
at this time, Plaintiff's motion to appoint counsel is
DENIED WITHOUT PREJUDICE. (DE 15.) 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 the future.