United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania
D. MARIANI, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Joel Perez ("Plaintiff'), an inmate currently
confined at the State Correctional Institution at Coal
Township, Pennsylvania ("SCI-Coal Township"),
initiated this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983.
Named as Defendants are James J. Larson, C. David Pedri,
Stefanie Salavantis, and eleven John Does. (Doc. 1).
Plaintiff alleges that his constitutional rights were
violated while housed at the Luzerne County Prison.
pending before the Court are Plaintiffs motions to appoint
counsel. (Docs. 4, 18). 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 plaintiffs capacity to retain counsel on his or her
(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 Fed.Appx. 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 the motions on the alleged complexity
of the case, his inability to afford counsel, limited
education, limited knowledge of the law, limited access to
the law library, and his limited English proficiency. (Docs.
4, 5, 18, 19). Plaintiff requests that the Court appoint a
Spanish-speaking attorney. (Id.). 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 Plaintiffs apparent ability to litigate
this action, militate against the appointment of counsel.
Accordingly, the motions for ...