(PC) Santos Rodriguez v. Santoro
ORDER DENYING 4 Motion to Appoint Counsel signed by Magistrate Judge Helena M. Barch-Kuchta on 9/7/2021. (Jessen, A)
Case 1:21-cv-01263-HBK Document 6 Filed 09/08/21 Page 1 of 2
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA
Case No. 1:21-cv-01263-HBK (PC)
ORDER DENYING PLAINTIFF’S MOTION
TO APPOINT COUNSEL
(Doc. No. 4)
KELLY SANTORO, Warden at North
Kern State Prison,
Plaintiff Santos Rodriguez is a former state prisoner proceeding on his complaint filed
pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. (Doc. No. 1). Pending before the Court is Plaintiff’s construed
motion seeking appointment of counsel filed September 3, 2021. (Doc. No. 4).
The United States Constitution does not require appointment of counsel in civil cases. See
Lewis v. Casey, 518 U.S. 343, 354 (1996) (explaining Bounds v. Smith, 430 U.S. at 817, did not
create a right to appointment of counsel in civil cases). This Court has discretionary authority
under 28 U.S.C. § 1915 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
Case 1:21-cv-01263-HBK Document 6 Filed 09/08/21 Page 2 of 2
“exceptional circumstances.” Id. at 1181. The Court may consider many factors to determine if
exceptional circumstances warrant appointment of counsel including, but not limited to, proof of
indigence, the likelihood of success on the merits, and the ability of the plaintiff to articulate his
or her claims pro se in light of the complexity of the legal issues involved. Id.; see also Rand v.
Rowland, 113 F.3d 1520, 1525 (9th Cir. 1997), withdrawn in part on other grounds on reh’g en
banc, 154 F.2d 952 (9th Cir. 1998). The Court “is not required to articulate reasons for denying
appointment of counsel if the reasons are clear from the record.” Johnson v. United States Dept.
of Treasury, 939 F.2d 820, 824 (9th Cir.1991).
Plaintiff’s motion seeking appointment of counsel consists of a single sentence: “I’d like
to request a lawyer under these completely new and different circumstances of this technology.”
(Doc. No. 4). Due to the brevity of the motion, the Court cannot discern what “technology” or
circumstances are challenging Plaintiff. Normal challenges faced by pro se litigants do not
warrant appointment of counsel. Siglar v. Hopkins, 822 F. App'x 610, 612 (9th Cir. 2020)
(denying appointment of counsel because the plaintiff’s “circumstances were not exceptionally
different from the majority of the challenges faced by pro se litigants.”) Unfamiliarity with the
law is a common challenge for pro se litigants. Plaintiff fails to show exceptional circumstances
to warrant appointment of counsel at this stage of the proceedings. Should this case progress and
Plaintiff’s circumstances change so that he is able to demonstrate exceptional circumstances, he
may renew his motion for appointment of counsel at that time.1
Accordingly, it is ORDERED:
Plaintiff’s motion to appoint counsel (Doc. No. 4) is DENIED without prejudice.
September 7, 2021
HELENA M. BARCH-KUCHTA
UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Plaintiff is welcome to view the resources for pro se litigants available at https://prose.cacd.uscourts.gov/. While
the website is specific to our neighboring Central District of California, it nonetheless contains information helpful
for guiding pro se litigants in the Eastern District.
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