United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
J.T. SUTTON, Plaintiff,
BLASIE GLENNIE, L. SCHUMACHER, G. WILSON, HOPKINS, Defendants.
OPINION AND ORDER REJECTING PLAINTIFF'S
OBJECTIONS TO MAGISTRATE JUDGE'S JUNE 20, 2018 ORDER AND
V. PARKER, U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE.
matter is presently before the Court on Plaintiff's
objections to Magistrate Judge Stephanie Dawkins Davis'
June 20, 2018 order denying his request for the appointment
of new counsel.
a Michigan prisoner, initiated this pro se civil rights
action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 on March 15, 2016.
Plaintiff's claims arise from an assault on him by a
fellow inmate, which he alleges resulted from Defendants'
deliberate indifference to a known risk of harm to him from
this inmate. After Plaintiff's Eighth Amendment claim
against Defendants Wilson and Hopkins survived summary
judgment (see ECF No. 34), Plaintiff moved for the
appointment of counsel.
Judge Stephanie Dawkins Davis, to whom the case is assigned
for all pretrial proceedings pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
636(b)(1)(A) and (B), granted Plaintiff's motion and
appointed attorney Daniel Manville to represent Plaintiff on
October 26, 2017. (ECF No. 8.) However, Attorney Manville
filed a motion to withdraw as Plaintiff's counsel on
March 29, 2018, citing a breakdown in communication and
trust. (ECF No. 45.) Attorney Manville filed the motion after
receiving a motion drafted and signed by Plaintiff,
requesting the withdrawal of Attorney Manville's
representation. (Id. ¶ 1; see also ECF
Plaintiff's motion (which Attorney Manville attached to
his motion, but which the Court also received directly from
Plaintiff on May 10, 2018), Plaintiff claimed that Attorney
Manville had not taken meaningful steps to litigate the
matter and showed no interest in going to trial or seeking
justice for Plaintiff. (ECF No. 45-1 ¶ 3; ECF No. 49
¶ 3.) Plaintiff referenced a March 6, 2018 letter from
Attorney Manville, which Plaintiff asserted revealed
counsel's express desire to withdraw. (Id.)
Attorney Manville did not include the letter with his motion
to withdraw; however, Plaintiff did attach the letter, which
was subsequently sealed as it reflected privileged
10, 2018, Magistrate Judge Davis held a hearing with respect
to Attorney Manville's motion to withdraw as counsel and
issued a bench order granting the motion. (ECF No. 48.) As
indicated, on the same date, the Court received directly from
Plaintiff the motion to withdraw that he drafted and signed.
(ECF No. 49.) In the motion, Plaintiff also asked the Court
for a new attorney and expedited consideration of his
20, 2018, Magistrate Judge Davis issued an order granting
Plaintiff's request for expedited consideration, but
denying his motion for appointment of counsel. (ECF No. 56.)
Magistrate Judge Davis writes that, as discussed with
Plaintiff at the May 10, 2018 hearing, there is no
constitutional right to counsel in a civil case.
(Id. at Pg ID 410, citing Lanier v. Bryant,
332 F.3d 999, 1006 (6th Cir. 2003).) Magistrate Judge Davis
indicates that she is declining to exercise her permissive
authority to appoint a new attorney to represent Plaintiff in
light of several factors. These include the fact that an
attorney previously was appointed to represent Plaintiff, the
length the case has been pending, and the reasons for the
requested withdrawal of Attorney Manville, which Magistrate
Judge Davis found “do not portend a successful
relationship with any attorney” and suggest a
“lack of appreciation for the ethical standards
governing attorneys who practice before the court.”
(Id. at Pg ID 411-12.)
conclusion of the order, Magistrate Judge Davis informs the
parties that they may object to and seek review of the order
within fourteen days of service upon them. (Id. at
Pg ID 413.) On July 12, 2018, this Court received objections
from Plaintiff, which are dated (although not signed) July 3,
2018. (ECF No. 59.)
party objects to a magistrate judge's non-dispositive
decision, the reviewing court must affirm the magistrate
judge's ruling unless the objecting party demonstrates
that it is “clearly erroneous” or “contrary
to law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(a); 28 U.S.C. §
636(b)(1)(A). The “clearly erroneous” standard
does not empower a reviewing court to reverse a magistrate
judge's finding because it would have decided the matter
differently. See, e.g., Anderson v. Bessemer
City, N.C. , 470 U.S. 564, 573-74 (1985). Instead, the
“clearly erroneous” standard is met when despite
the existence of evidence to support the finding, the court,
upon reviewing the record in its entirety, “is left
with the definite and firm conviction that a mistake has been
committed.” Id. (quoting United States v.
U.S. Gypsum Co., 333 U.S. 364, 395 (1948)).
objections, Plaintiff contends that Attorney Manville's
statements concerning his representation are false and harm
Plaintiff's interests, specifically in that they have
tainted Magistrate Judge Davis' view of the merits of
Plaintiff's lawsuit and his entitlement to counsel.
Plaintiff argues that counsel is necessary to insure that he
receives a fair trial.
fails to demonstrate that Magistrate Judge Davis'
decision was erroneous. As Magistrate Judge Davis indicated,
there is no right to counsel in a civil case.
Lanier, 332 F.3d at 1006 (citing Lavado v.
Keohane, 992 F.2d 601, 605-06 (6th Cir. 1993)).
Appointment of counsel “is justified only in
exceptional circumstances.” Id. There are no
exceptional circumstances in this case. Without the
assistance of counsel, Plaintiff was at least partially
successful in defending against Defendants' ...