ATKINSON v. THOMAS
ORDER DENYING 45 Motion to Appoint Counsel. Ordered by US DISTRICT JUDGE MARC THOMAS TREADWELL on 6/22/2017. (tlh)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE MIDDLE DISTRICT OF GEORGIA
CIVIL ACTION NO. 5:14-CV-294 (MTT)
Before the Court is the Plaintiff’s motion to appoint counsel. Doc. 45. The
motion is DENIED.
“Appointment of counsel in a civil case is not a constitutional right.” Wahl v.
McIver, 773 F.2d 1169, 1174 (11th Cir. 1985) (citation omitted). Rather, “[i]t is a
privilege that is justified only by exceptional circumstances.” Id. (citation omitted); see
also Smith v. Fla. Dep’t Corr., 713 F.3d 1059, 1063 (11th Cir. 2013) (“[W]hether such
circumstances exist is committed to the district court’s discretion.” (internal citation
omitted)). In exercising its discretion regarding whether to appoint counsel for an
indigent party, the district court considers factors such as the complexity of the facts and
legal claims. See Bass v. Perin, 170 F.3d 1312, 1320 (11th Cir. 1999) (holding that the
district court did not abuse its discretion in refusing to appoint counsel in a § 1983 case
with undisputed core facts and straightforward legal claims).
In this case, the Plaintiff alleges that the Defendant used unconstitutional
excessive force against the Plaintiff by slamming the Plaintiff to the ground soon after
the Plaintiff had surgery. Doc. 28 at 1-2; see generally Doc. 1 (complaint); see
generally Doc. 9 (dismissing all claims except for the Plaintiff’s Eighth Amendment claim
against the Defendant). The Plaintiff argues that he needs appointed counsel because
his imprisonment limits his ability to conduct the necessary “significant research and
investigation,” and appointed counsel “would better enable Plaintiff to present evidence
and cross examine witnesses.” Doc. 45 at 1-2. The Plaintiff specifically requests the
attorneys appointed by the Eleventh Circuit to represent the Plaintiff on appeal. Id. at 2.
But the Court finds that the Plaintiff’s straightforward § 1983 claim is neither factually
nor legally complex. See Wahl, 773 F.2d at 1174 (finding no exceptional circumstances
where essential facts and legal issues were clear); cf. Smith, 713 F.3d at 1065 (holding
that factors such as (1) the presence of allegations not personally experienced by the
plaintiff, (2) discovery issues and suspect conduct of the defendants, and (3) security
concerns complicating the plaintiff’s ability to interview other inmates, “in the aggregate,”
presented exceptional circumstances necessitating the appointment of counsel).
Because the Plaintiff has not shown the existence of exceptional circumstances
necessary to justify the appointment of counsel, the Plaintiff’s motion to appoint counsel
(Doc. 45) is DENIED.
SO ORDERED, this 22nd day of June, 2017.
S/ Marc T. Treadwell
MARC T. TREADWELL, JUDGE
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
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