United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania
D. Mariani United States District Judge
Ronnie Lawson, an inmate currently confined at the United
States Penitentiary, Lewisburg, Pennsylvania, commenced this
B!vens28 U.S.C. § 1331, action in October,
2016. (Doc. 1). The matter is proceeding via an
amended complaint. (Doc. 12). Named as Defendants are Robert
Marr, Dallas Beachel, Benjamin Missigman, and Nathen Beaver.
(Id.). Plaintiff alleges that in June 2016 his cell
assignment changed and he was housed with an inmate he did
not get along with, which lead to an altercation with the
cellmate. (Id. at pp. 2-4). Plaintiff further
alleges that he was assaulted by Defendants Beaver and
Missigman. (Id. at pp. 4-6).
pending before the Court are Plaintiffs motions to appoint
counsel. (Docs. 4, 13). For the reasons set forth below, the
motions will be denied without prejudice.
prisoners have no constitutional or statutory right to
appointment of counsel in a civil case, the Court has
discretion "to request an attorney to represent any
person unable to afford counsel." 28 U.S.C. §
1915(e)(1); Parham v. Johnson, 126 F.3d 454, 456-57
(3d Cir. 1997); Montgomery v. Pinchak, 294 F.3d 492,
499 (3d Cir. 2002); Tabron v. Grace, 6 F.3d 147, 153
(3d Cir. 1993). The United States Court of Appeals for the
Third Circuit has stated that the appointment of counsel for
an indigent litigant should be made when circumstances
indicate "the likelihood of substantial prejudice to him
resulting, for example, from his probable inability without
such assistance to present the facts and legal issues to the
court in a complex but arguably meritorious case."
Smith-Bey v. Petsock, 741 F.2d 22, 26 (3d Cir.
initial determination to be made by the Court in evaluating
the expenditure of the "precious commodity" of
volunteer counsel is whether the case has some arguable merit
in fact or law. Montgomery, 294 F.3d at 499. If a
plaintiff overcomes this threshold hurdle, other factors to
be examined are:
(1) the plaintiffs 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
(4) the plaintiff's capacity to retain counsel on his or
her own behalf;
(5) the extent to which the case is likely to turn on
credibility determinations; and
(6) whether the case will require testimony from expert
Id. (citing Tabron, 6 F.3d at 155-57). The
Third Circuit Court of Appeals added two other factors to be
taken into consideration: (1) the court's willingness to
aid the indigent party in presenting his or her own case; and
(2) the available supply of lawyers willing to accept section
1915(e) requests within the relevant geographic area. See
Gordon v. Gonzalez, 232 F.App'x 153 (3d Cir.
arguendo that the complaint has merit, Plaintiff
fails to set forth any circumstances warranting the
appointment of counsel. See Tabron, 6 F.3d at
155-56. Plaintiff bases his motions solely on his inability
to afford counsel. (Docs. 4, 13). Upon review of the
complaint, the legal issues presented in this case are not
complex and likely will not require expert testimony.
Furthermore, despite his incarceration, investigation of the
facts is not beyond Plaintiffs capabilities and he is
familiar with the facts of his case. In his pleadings,
Plaintiff demonstrates the ability to adequately present his
case. Moreover, the Court notes that it does not have a large
group of attorneys who would represent this action in a
pro bono capacity.
on the foregoing, it does not appear that Plaintiff will
suffer prejudice if forced to prosecute this case on his own.
The Court's duty to construe pro se pleadings
liberally, Haines v. Kerner,404 U.S. 519 (1972),
Riley v. Jeffes, 777 F.2d 143, 147-48 (3d Cir.
1985), coupled with Plaintiff's apparent ability to
litigate this action, militate against the appointment of
counsel. Accordingly, the motions for ...