Knapp v. Kench et al
ORDER conditionally granting 8 Motion to Appoint Counsel. So Ordered by Magistrate Judge Landya B. McCafferty.(mm)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE
DISTRICT OF NEW HAMPSHIRE
Civil No. 11-cv-491-PB
Christopher Kench, Acting
Commissioner, New Hampshire
Department of Corrections et al.
O R D E R
Before the court is John Knapp’s motion for appointment of
counsel (doc. no. 8).
The motion is conditionally granted, as
John Knapp is presently an inmate at the New Hampshire
State Prison (“NHSP”).
In this action, Knapp has alleged that
he has been denied the ability to practice his religion, in
violation of his federal constitutional and statutory rights.
He seeks both injunctive relief and damages against NHSP
The court has directed service of the complaint in
this matter (doc. no. 15).
Knapp has proceeded pro se in this matter thus far.
asserts that he is unable to adequately represent himself in
this action due to his lack of legal training, the complexity of
the legal issues, and his need to conduct discovery and
investigation in this matter.
Knapp further states that he is
unable to afford to retain an attorney and has not been able to
obtain counsel on his own.
While there is no absolute constitutional right to free
representation in a civil case, DesRosiers v. Moran, 949 F.2d
15, 24 (1st Cir. 1991), this court has statutory authority, in
its discretion, to request that counsel represent an indigent
See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(1); Doherty v. Donohoe, No.
12-10125-NMG, 2012 WL 381249, *2 (D. Mass. Feb. 2, 2012).
funds are generally available, however, to pay counsel’s fees or
costs in such circumstances.
See Ruffin v. Brann, No. CV-09-87-
B-W, 2010 WL 500827, *1 (D. Me. Feb. 8, 2010).
The court has no
authority to require counsel to represent a pro se litigant.
The court concludes that appointment of counsel is
appropriate at this time, given the nature of the allegations,
the potential merits of the case, and that there is some
inherent complexity in the proper litigation of this case,
requiring discovery, investigation, and possibly expert
Therefore, in an exercise of its discretion, the
court grants the motion (doc. no. 8) for appointment of counsel,
on the condition that suitable counsel may be identified and is
available and willing to take this matter on a pro bono basis.
The Clerk’s office shall contact suitable counsel, selected
from the list of attorneys registered to file documents
electronically in this court, and request that counsel represent
Knapp in this matter.
Counsel shall be notified that she or he
may decline the requested appointment and that the appointment
is pro bono.
Further, upon request of counsel, the clerk’s
office is authorized to forward to counsel a copy of the
pleadings and other documents in this case.
request, may have fourteen days to review the documents in the
case and, if she or he wishes, to visit and speak with Mr. Knapp
at the prison before making a decision as to whether or not to
accept an appointment in this matter.
If the court is unable to secure counsel willing to
represent Knapp pro bono in this matter by July 15, 2012, Knapp
shall receive prompt notice thereof.
No other matter in the
case need by delayed or deferred in the meantime.
For the foregoing reasons, the motion for appointment of
counsel (doc. no. 8) is granted, conditioned on the availability
and willingness of suitable counsel to represent Knapp on a pro
The clerk shall notify Knapp by July 15, 2012,
whether suitable representation has been secured.
Landya B. McCafferty
United States Magistrate Judge
June 12, 2012
John Knapp, pro se
Nancy Smith, Esq.