Morgan v. Berryhill

Filing 6

ORDER denying 3 Motion to Appoint Counsel. Signed by Magistrate Judge Karen S. Crawford on 11/27/2017. (All non-registered users served via U.S. Mail Service)(jdt)

Download PDF
1 2 3 ':i'-'i .,:;: "';~ _, i r r·~u;;y ,;,;,.,._-;t-CRf1i./, 4 5 6 7 8 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 9 10 11 12 13 Case No.: 17cv2227-LAB(KSC) TRAVIS MORGAN, Plaintiff, v. 14 15 16 [Doc. No. 3] NANCY BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner, Social Security Administration, 17 ORDER DENYING PLAINTIFF'S REQUEST FOR APPOINTMENT OF COUNSEL Defendant. 18 19 20 Plaintiff recently filed a Complaint alleging that defendant Social Security 21 Administration ("SSA") failed to comply with its obligations under the Freedom of 22 Information Act, 5 U.S.C. § 552 ("FOIA"). [Doc. No. 1, at pp. 1-3.] Along with his 23 Complaint, plaintiff filed a Request for Appointment of Counsel. [Doc. No. 3.] In the 24 Request, plaintiff states that he has been unable to obtain legal counsel in this case 25 despite "diligent efforts." [Doc. No. 3, at p. l.] Plaintiff requests that the Court appoint 26 counsel in this case, because he is unable to pay the cost of an attorney and because he 27 has no legal training or knowledge to argue the case and file motions. [Doc. No. 3 at pp. 28 2-3.] 17cv77?7-T .A R!K>:r.) 1 A plaintiff in a civil case generally has no right to appointed counsel. See 2 Hernandez v. Whiting, 881 F.2d 768, 770-771 (91h Cir. 1989). Federal Courts do have 3 discretion to request counsel "to represent any person unable to afford counsel." 28 4 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(l). However, appointment of counsel under Section 1915 requires a 5 finding of"exceptional circumstances." Terrell v. Brewer, 935 F.2d 1015, 1017 (9th Cir. 6 1991). "A finding of exceptional circumstances requires an evaluation of both the 7 likelihood of success on the merits and the ability of the petitioner to articulate his claims 8 prose in light of the complexity of the legal issues involved. Neither of these factors is 9 10 11 dispositive and both must be viewed together before reaching a decision." Id. (internal quotations omitted). Here, plaintiff did file an Application to proceed informa pauperis in this case, but 12 his inability to pay has not yet been established, because plaintiff did not sign his 13 Application. In a separate Order, the Court denied plaintiffs Application but granted 14 him additional time to sign and then re-submit his Application. 15 There is also no basis to support a finding of exceptional circumstances at this 16 time. First, the record is not sufficiently developed so that the Court can make a 17 determination on the likelihood of success on the merits. 18 Second, there is nothing from which the Court could conclude plaintiff lacks the 19 ability to articulate and prosecute his claims prose. The allegations in the Complaint are 20 clearly stated and several exhibits are attached to the Complaint in support of the 21 allegations. [Doc. No. 1, at pp. 25-135.] Thus far, plaintiff has shown an ability to 22 effectively articulate his claim and communicate with the Court. 23 24 25 Third, the allegations in the Complaint are not complex. The Complaint includes only a single claim against the SSA for an alleged failure to comply with FOIA. Finally, prose litigants are afforded some leniency to compensate for their lack of 26 legal training. "In civil rights cases where the plaintiff appears pro se, the court must 27 construe the pleadings liberally and must afford plaintiff the benefit of any doubt." 28 Jackson v. Carey, 353 F.3d 750, 757 (9th Cir. 2003) (internal citation omitted). This also 2 17r.v7??7-1 .A RIK SCI 1 applies to motions. Bernhardt v. Los Angeles County, 339 F.3d 920, 925 (9th Cir. 2003). 2 Accordingly, plaintiffs prose status will be taken into consideration by the Court when 3 his filings are reviewed. 4 5 Based on the foregoing, IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that plaintiffs Request for Appointment of Counsel is DENIED. 6 IT IS SO ORDERED. 7 Dated: November Z.1, 2017 8 9 United States Magistrate Judge 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 3 17e.v??77-1.A RIK~r\

Disclaimer: Justia Dockets & Filings provides public litigation records from the federal appellate and district courts. These filings and docket sheets should not be considered findings of fact or liability, nor do they necessarily reflect the view of Justia.

Why Is My Information Online?