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Royster v. Mahlmeister

June 9, 2008

TELLY ROYSTER, PLAINTIFF,
v.
DEBRA MAHLMEISTER, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: A. Richard Caputo United States District Judge

(Judge Caputo)

MEMORANDUM

Plaintiff Telly Royster, an inmate currently confined at the Huntingdon State Correctional Institution ("SCI-Huntingdon") in Huntingdon, Pennsylvania,*fn1 commenced this pro se action by filing a Complaint (Doc. 1) pursuant to the provisions of 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff also has filed a Motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis (Doc. 2).

Plaintiff's Complaint was not in compliance with the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, and therefore, by Order dated May 9, 2008, the Court gave Plaintiff an opportunity to file an amended complaint within twenty (20) days. (Doc. 10.) Presently before the Court is Plaintiff's Motion for appointment of counsel and for an extension of time in which to file his amended complaint. (Doc. 11.) For the reasons set forth below, the Court will deny Plaintiff's Motion for appointment of counsel, but will grant an extension of time to file an amended complaint.

I. Appointment of Counsel

It is well-established that prisoners have no statutory or constitutional right to appointment of counsel in a civil case. Parham v. Johnson, 126 F.3d 454, 456-57 (3d Cir. 1997). However, it is within the discretion of the district court to appoint counsel under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(1). Montgomery v. Pinchak, 294 F.3d 492, 498 (3d Cir. 2002) (citing Tabron v. Grace, 6 F.3d 147, 153 (3d Cir. 1993); Ray v. Robinson, 640 F.2d 474, 477 (3d Cir. 1981). In considering whether to appoint counsel, a court first should determine whether the plaintiff's claim has some arguable merit in fact and law. Parham, 126 F.3d at 457 (citing Tabron, 6 F.3d at 157). Once the court has determined that the action is sufficiently meritorious, it should consider the following six Tabron factors to determine whether the appointment of counsel is appropriate:

(1) the plaintiff's ability to present his or her own case;

(2) the difficulty of the particular legal issues;

(3) the degree to which factual investigation will be necessary and the ability of the plaintiff to pursue such investigation;

(4) the plaintiff's ability to retain counsel on his or her own behalf;

(5) the extent to which a case is likely to turn on credibility determinations, and;

(6) whether the case will require testimony from expert witnesses. Montgomery, 294 F.3d at 499 (citing Tabron, 6 F.3d at 155-57).

Initially, the Court observes that, because Plaintiff's Complaint presented numerous claims concerning unconnected issues, it is not possible at this stage to determine whether Plaintiff's claims have any arguable merit in fact or in law. See Parham, 126 F.3d at 457. Therefore, the Court will assume that Plaintiff's claims have merit for the purpose of considering the Tabron factors.

An application of the Tabron factors in the instant case reveals that Plaintiff has not set forth sufficient special circumstances that warrant the appointment of counsel. See Tabron, 6 F.3d at 155-56. Royster claims that he is unable to present his own case because he is being treated with psychotropic medications for "schizo-effective symptoms, paranoia, and depression." (Doc. 11 ΒΆ 2.) Even if medications impair Royster's ability to present his own case, it appears that he has been able to obtain assistance and to access the necessary resources to prepare the Motion presently before the Court. Moreover, Plaintiff asserts that he was recently transferred back to SCI-Huntingdon from the mental health unit at SCI-Rockview, and therefore, he is no longer under special mental health care. Moreover, despite Royster's assertion to the contrary, to the extent the claims in his Complaint were clear to ...


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