United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania
MICHAEL A. SINGLETON, Petitioner
WARDEN OF LACKAWANNA COUNTY PRISON, Respondent
D. MARIANI UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Michael Singleton ("Petitioner"), filed a pro
se petition for writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28
U.S.C. § 2241. (Doc. 1). Petitioner appears to challenge
his arrest for allegedly violating Pennsylvania law that
requires sex offenders to register with the state and comply
with other requirements. (Id.). Presently pending
before the Court is Petitioner's motion for appointment
of counsel. (Doc. 7). For the reasons set forth below, the
Court will deny the motion.
prisoners have no constitutional or statutory right to
appointment of counsel in federal habeas corpus proceedings,
Coleman v. Thompson, 501 U.S. 772, 752 (1991), the
Court has broad discretionary power to appoint counsel to a
financially eligible habeas petitioner if "the interests
of justice so require..." See 18 U.S.C. §
3006A(a)(2); see also Montgomery v. Pinchak,
294 F.3d 492, 499 (3d Cir. 2002); Tabron v. Grace, 6
F.3d 147, 153 (3d Cir. 1993), aff'd, 275 F.3d 33
(3d Cir. 2001). The United States Court of Appeals for the
Third Circuit has stated that 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 petitioner's case has
some arguable merit in fact and law. Montgomery, 294
F.3d at 499. If a petitioner overcomes this threshold hurdle,
other factors to be examined are:
1 .the claimant'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 claimant to pursue
4. the claimant'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 witnesses.
Montgomery, 294 F.3d at 499 (citing Tabron,
6 F.3d at 155-57).
arguendo that the petition has merit, Petitioner
fails to set forth any special circumstances warranting
appointment of counsel. See Tabron, 6 F.3d at
155-56. Petitioner's request for counsel is based solely
on the alleged complexity of the case. (Doc. 7). However,
thus far, Petitioner has demonstrated the ability to properly
and forcefully prosecute his claims. Despite Petitioner's
incarceration, investigation of the facts is not beyond his
capabilities and he is familiar with the facts of his case.
See Reese v. Fulcomer, 946 F.2d 247, 263-64 (3d Cir.
1991) (identifying merit and complexity of petitioner's
claims, as well as the petitioner's ability to
investigate facts and present claims, as factors in whether
to appoint counsel). 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 Petitioner 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 Petitioner's apparent ability to
litigate this action, militate against the appointment of
counsel. Accordingly, the motion for ...