United States of America v. Allison et al
ORDER DENYING Defendants' 11 Motion to Appoint Counsel signed by Magistrate Judge Helena M. Barch-Kuchta on 11/19/2020. (Sant Agata, S)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
Case No. 1:20-cv-269-DAD-HBK
ORDER DENYING DEFENDANTS’ MOTION
FOR APPOINTMENT OF COUNSEL
(ECF No. 11)
DIANE R. ALISON, SONJA R. WILSON,
THE ESTATE OF ROGER L. WILSON,
The Court reviews the motion to appoint counsel filed on behalf of Defendants Diane R.
Wilson, Sonja R. Wilson, and The Estate of Roger L. Wilson, Sr. on October 20, 2020. (ECF No.
11.) Liberally construed, the motion seeks appointment of counsel on behalf of The Estate of
Roger L. Wilson, Sr. and on behalf of Defendants Alison and Wilson in their individual and their
representative capacities as statutory executors of the Estate. The Government did not file a
response to this motion and the time to do so has expired. Notably, a review of other pleadings
shows that the Government submits that the Estate, cannot proceed in this action without counsel.
By way of background, the Government initiated this action by filing a three-count Complaint
stemming from alleged failure to pay estate taxes following the individual Defendants’ father’s
death that occurred in 2005.
Under 28 U.S.C. § 1915, this Court has discretionary authority to appoint counsel for an
indigent to commence, prosecute, or defend a civil action. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(1) (stating the
court has authority to appoint counsel for people unable to afford counsel); see also United States
v. McQuade, 519 F.2d 1180 (9th Cir. 1978) (addressing relevant standard of review for motions
to appoint counsel in civil cases) (other citations omitted). However, motions to appoint counsel
in civil cases are granted only in “exceptional circumstances.” Id. at 1181. The Court may
consider many factors including, but not limited to, proof of indigence, to determine if
exceptional circumstances are present in a case to warrant appointment of counsel. Id.
Here, the Court cannot conclude that exceptional circumstances are present to warrant the
appointment of counsel. Although Defendants state that neither the Defendants individually, nor
the Estate has adequate funds to pay for counsel, Defendants submit no proof of indigence to
support of their motion. Nor do Defendants address any of the other factors for the Court to find
exceptional circumstances warrant appointment of counsel in this civil case.
Accordingly, Defendants’ motion for the appointment of counsel (ECF No. 11) is denied
IT IS SO ORDERED.
November 19, 2020
HELENA M. BARCH-KUCHTA
UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
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