Hall et al v. Pierce et al
MEMORANDUM Signed by Judge Gregory M. Sleet on 5/18/2017. (lmm)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF DELAWARE
) Civ. Action No. 14-890-GMS
WARDEN DAVID PIERCE, et al.,
The plaintiff James Hall ("Hall"), a former inmate at the James T. Vaughn Correctional
Center in Smyrna, Delaware, filed this lawsuit pursuant to 42 U .S .C. § 1983. He proceeds pro se
and has been granted leave to proceed informa pauperis. (See D.I. 12.)
Hall requests counsel on the grounds that he: (1) has made a good faith effort to obtain
counsel; (2) proceeds prose and is unable to pay for counsel; (3) is at a disadvantage as the
issues are complex and credibility is an issue; (4) has been diagnosed with severe carpal tunnel
and is schedule for surgery on the right hand in February 2017 and elective surgery on the left
hand in the near future; (5) has no formal training in the law; and (6) counsel will be necessary to
cross examine witnesses. (DJ. 54.)
A pro se litigant proceeding in forma pauper is has no constitutional or statutory right to
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representation by counsel. 1 See Brightwell v. Lehman, 637 F.3d 187, 192 (3d Cir. 2011); Tabron
v. Grace, 6 F.3d 147, 153 (3d Cir. 1993). However, representation by counsel may be
appropriate under certain circumstances, after a finding that a plaintiffs claim has arguable merit
in fact and law. Tabron, 6 F.3d at 155.
After passing this threshold inquiry, the court should consider a number of factors when
assessing a request for counsel. Factors to be considered by a court in deciding whether to
request a lawyer to represent an indigent plaintiff include: (1) the merits of the plaintiffs claim;
(2) the plaintiffs ability to present his or her case considering his or her education, literacy,
experience, and the restraints placed upon him or her by incarceration; (3) the complexity of the
legal issues; (4) the degree to which factual investigation is required and the plaintiffs ability to
pursue such investigation; (5) the plaintiffs capacity to retain counsel on his or her own behalf;
and (6) the degree to which the case turns on credibility determinations or expert testimony. See
Montgomery v. Pinchak, 294 F.3d 492, 498-99 (3d Cir. 2002); Tabron, 6 F.3d at 155-56. The list
is not exhaustive, nor is any one factor determinative. Tabron, 6 F.3d at 157.
After reviewing the plaintiffs requests, the court concludes that the case is not so
factually or legally complex that requesting an attorney is warranted. To date, the filings in this
case demonstrate the plaintiffs ability to articulate his claims and represent himself. Thus, in
these circumstances, the court will deny without prejudice to renew the plaintiffs request for
counsel. (D.I. 54.) Should the need for counsel arise later, one can be appointed at that time.
See Mallard v. United States Dist. Court for the S. Dist. of Iowa, 490 U.S. 296 (1989)
(§ 1915(d) (now§ 1915(e)(l)) does not authorize a federal court to require an unwilling attorney
to represent an indigent civil litigant, the operative word in the statute being "request.").
For the above reasons, the court will deny Hall's request for counsel. (DJ. 54.)
An appropriate order will be entered.
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