Brandon v. Williams, et al.
ORDER signed by Magistrate Judge Dennis M. Cota on 2/17/2021 DENYING 108 Motion to Appoint Counsel. (Henshaw, R)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA
L. WILLIAMS, et al.,
Plaintiff, a prisoner proceeding pro se, brings this civil rights action pursuant to
42 U.S.C. § 1983. Pending before the Court is Plaintiff’s motion for the appointment of counsel
(ECF No. 108).
The United States Supreme Court has ruled that district courts lack authority to
require counsel to represent indigent prisoners in § 1983 cases. See Mallard v. United States Dist.
Court, 490 U.S. 296, 298 (1989). In certain exceptional circumstances, the court may request the
voluntary assistance of counsel pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(1). See Terrell v. Brewer, 935
F.2d 1015, 1017 (9th Cir. 1991); Wood v. Housewright, 900 F.2d 1332, 1335-36 (9th Cir. 1990).
A finding of “exceptional circumstances” requires an evaluation of both the likelihood of success
on the merits and the ability of the plaintiff to articulate his claims on his own in light of the
complexity of the legal issues involved. See Terrell, 935 F.2d at 1017. Neither factor is
dispositive and both must be viewed together before reaching a decision. See id. In Terrell, the
Ninth Circuit concluded the district court did not abuse its discretion with respect to appointment
of counsel because:
. . . Terrell demonstrated sufficient writing ability and legal knowledge to
articulate his claim. The facts he alleged and the issues he raised were not
of substantial complexity. The compelling evidence against Terrell made it
extremely unlikely that he would succeed on the merits.
Id. at 1017.
In the present case, the Court does not at this time find the required exceptional
circumstances. Plaintiff states that appointment of counsel is necessary to represent him at trial.
See ECF No. 108, pg. 1. Plaintiff’s motion will be denied because the issues involved in this case
are not factually or legally complex, Plaintiff has demonstrated an ability to articulate his claims
on his own, and, though Plaintiff’s claims have survived summary judgment, the Court cannot say
that Plaintiff has demonstrated a likelihood that he will ultimately prevail on the merits. Notably,
Plaintiff’s current motion does not outline any exceptional circumstances justifying the
appointment of counsel.
Accordingly, IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that Plaintiff’s motion for the
appointment of counsel (ECF No. 108) is denied.
Dated: February 17, 2021
DENNIS M. COTA
UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
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