Saldana v. Sayre

Filing 43

ORDER by Judge Lucy H. Koh denying 31 Motion to Appoint Counsel ; granting 38 Motion to Stay Discovery; denying 42 Motion to Appoint Counsel ; denying 29 Motion to Stay Summary Judgment Proceedings (Attachments: # 1 Certificate/Proof of Service) (mpb, COURT STAFF) (Filed on 1/3/2013)

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1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 9 FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 10 SAMUEL SALDANA, 11 Plaintiff, 12 v. 13 MICHAEL SAYRE, et al., 14 Defendants. 15 ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) No. C 11-3921 LHK (PR) ORDER ADDRESSING PENDING MOTIONS (Docket Nos. 28, 29, 31, 42) Plaintiff, a state prisoner proceeding pro se, filed an amended civil rights complaint 16 17 pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging that prison officials were deliberately indifferent to his 18 serious medical needs. On September 7, 2012, Defendants filed a motion for summary 19 judgment. On September 27, 2012, Plaintiff filed a motion to stay summary judgment 20 proceedings, a motion to appoint a medical expert, and a motion to appoint counsel. On October 21 25, 2012, Defendants filed oppositions to Plaintiff’s motion to stay summary judgment 22 proceedings and motion to appoint a medical expert. On October 26, 2012, Defendants filed a 23 motion to stay discovery pending the disposition of their argument that they are entitled to 24 qualified immunity. 25 A. Motion to appoint a medical expert 26 Plaintiff moves, pursuant to Rule 706 of the Federal Rules of Evidence, for appointment 27 of a medical expert to respond to Defendants’ motion for summary judgment. Pursuant to Rule 28 702 of the Federal Rules of Evidence, “[i]f scientific, technical, or other specialized knowledge Order Addressing Pending Motions G:\PRO-SE\SJ.LHK\CR.11\Saldana921misc.wpd 1 will assist the trier of fact to understand the evidence or to determine a fact in issue, a witness 2 qualified as an expert by knowledge, skill, experience, training, or education, may testify thereto 3 in the form of an opinion or otherwise.” Fed. R. Evid. 702. Under Rule 706, the Court may on 4 its own motion, or on the motion of a party appoint an expert witness. Fed. R. Evid. 706(a). 5 However, the Court finds that appointment of an expert is not necessary or appropriate at 6 this time. First, the Court does not need an expert witness to aid its understanding of the 7 deliberate indifference claim in this action. Second, in a civil rights action such as this, Rule 8 706(b) contemplates that the expert would be paid by the parties, but here, Defendants would 9 have to bear the entire cost because Plaintiff would be unable to pay for the expert. There is no 10 showing that it is appropriate or fair to require Defendants to bear the sole burden of paying an 11 expert witness to present Plaintiff’s point of view. 12 Nonetheless, at this point in the proceedings, the Court finds it is premature to decide 13 whether appointment of a medical expert is warranted. Specifically, until the Court has had the 14 opportunity to review the arguments and evidence submitted by the parties on summary 15 judgment, no determination can be made that the issues are so complex as to require the 16 testimony of an expert to assist the trier of fact. Accordingly, Plaintiff’s motion for appointment 17 of a medical expert will be DENIED. This denial is without prejudice to renewal, once 18 Defendants’ motion for summary judgment has been submitted and considered. 19 B. 20 Discovery motions Plaintiff moves to stay summary judgment proceedings so that he can have more time to 21 conduct discovery. Plaintiff also claims that he needs more time to access the law library so that 22 he can file an opposition to Defendants’ motion for summary judgment. Defendants have filed a 23 motion to stay discovery proceedings pending the Court’s disposition of the issue of qualified 24 immunity. 25 As a general rule, a district court should stay discovery until the issue of qualified 26 immunity is resolved. See Crawford-El v. Britton, 523 U.S. 574, 598 (1998); Harlow v. 27 Fitzgerald, 457 U.S. 800, 818 (1982). Accordingly, Defendants’ motion to stay discovery until 28 the Court has ruled on the issue of qualified immunity, as raised in Defendants’ motion for Order Addressing Pending Motions G:\PRO-SE\SJ.LHK\CR.11\Saldana921misc.wpd 2 1 summary judgment, is hereby GRANTED. Plaintiff’s motion to stay summary judgment 2 proceedings pursuant to Rule 56(d), therefore, is DENIED as moot. See Fed. R. Civ P. 56(d). 3 At this time, Plaintiff’s opposition is overdue. However, because Plaintiff appears to 4 have had difficulty accessing the law library to conduct whatever research he believes he needs 5 to file a proper opposition, the Court sua sponte extends the deadline for Plaintiff to file an 6 opposition to Defendants’ motion for summary judgment. Plaintiff shall file his opposition no 7 later than twenty eight days from the filing date of this order. Defendants shall file their reply 8 fourteen days thereafter. 9 C. 10 Motions to appoint counsel Plaintiff’s motions for appointment of counsel are DENIED for want of exceptional 11 circumstances. See Rand v. Rowland, 113 F.3d 1520, 1525 (9th Cir. 1997); see also Lassiter v. 12 Dep’t of Social Services, 452 U.S. 18, 25 (1981) (there is no constitutional right to counsel in a 13 civil case). The issues in this case are not particularly complex, and Plaintiff has thus far been 14 able to adequately present his claims. This denial is without prejudice to the Court’s sua sponte 15 appointment of counsel at a future date should the circumstances of this case warrant such 16 appointment. 17 This order terminates docket numbers 28, 29, 31, and 42. 18 IT IS SO ORDERED. 19 DATED: 1/2/13 LUCY H. KOH United States District Judge 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 Order Addressing Pending Motions G:\PRO-SE\SJ.LHK\CR.11\Saldana921misc.wpd 3

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