The opinion of the court was delivered by: Magistrate Judge Bissoon
Reginald Blount ("Blount") currently is an inmate incarcerated at the State Correctional Institution at Somerset, Pennsylvania ("SCI-Somerset"). Blount was granted leave to proceed in forma pauperis ("IFP") on May 21, 2010 (Doc. 3). Nathan Riley ("Riley") currently is an inmate incarcerated at the State Correctional Institution at Greene, Pennsylvania ("SCI-Greene"). Riley was granted leave to proceed IFP on June 1, 2010.
Both men are the Plaintiffs in the instant lawsuit, which they bring pursuant to the Civil Rights Act of 1871, 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging violations of their rights under the First and Fourteenth Amendments of the Constitution of the United States, as well as the Pennsylvania State Constitution, and various State laws, by a litany of Defendants. See Compl. (Doc. 10), at 7-8.
Currently before this Court are several motions, filed by both Plaintiffs and Defendants. These will be addressed below.
A. Plaintiffs' Motion to Appoint Counsel
First, this Court addresses Plaintiffs' Motion for Appointment of Counsel (Doc. 56). The United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit set forth the standard to be applied by district courts when responding to a request for counsel pursuant to the provisions of 28 U.S.C. Section 1915(e)(1) in Tabron v. Grace, 6 F.3d 147 (3d Cir. 1993). The Tabron Court acknowledged that district courts have no authority to compel counsel to represent an indigent civil litigant. Id., at 157 n.7. The court also recognized that when "[a]n indigent Plaintiff with a claim of arguable merit is incapable of presenting his or her case, serious consideration should be given to appointing counsel." Id., at 156. The court likewise addressed the practical constraints confronted by district courts regarding the appointment of counsel, which include the ever-growing number of prisoner civil rights actions filed each year in the federal courts; the lack of funding to pay appointed counsel; and the limited supply of competent lawyers who are willing to undertake such representation without compensation. Id., at 157.
The Tabron court also announced a series of factors that the trial court should consider and apply in ruling upon a motion for the appointment of counsel. Id., at 155-56. These factors include: (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 investigation; (4) the plaintiff's capacity 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.
In the instant case, Plaintiffs' claims are not complex. A review of the Complaint in light of the factors announced in Tabron reveals the following:
(1) The particular legal issues are not difficult. Plaintiffs' current separation may slow their ability to file joint documents. However, Plaintiffs have filed multiple motions jointly since their separation, provisions have been made in the past for inmates to communicate regarding legal matters under the supervision of the Department of Corrections. As a result, there is no indication that Plaintiffs are incapable of presenting and arguing the merits of their claims.
(2) The necessary factual investigation can be adequately pursued by Plaintiffs.
(3) The difficulty posed by Plaintiffs' separation is not insurmountable, and Plaintiffs appear to have no additional problems pursuing their claims.
(4) Plaintiffs' claims do not appear to require extensive or ...