Smith v. Michigan Department of Corrections et al
ORDER denying 17 Plaintiff's Motion to Appoint Counsel and amend the complaint. Signed by District Judge Robert H. Cleland. (LWag)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF MICHIGAN
JACK G. SMITH-EL,
Case No. 11-15342
MICHIGAN DEPARTMENT OF
CORRECTIONS, et al,
ORDER DENYING PLAINTIFF’S MOTION TO AMEND HIS COMPLAINT
AND HIS MOTION FOR THE APPOINTMENT OF COUNSEL
Plaintiff Jack Smith-El is currently confined at the G. Robert Cotton Correctional
Facility in Jackson, Michigan. On December 12, 2011, Magistrate Judge R. Steven
Whalen ordered Plaintiff to provide the addresses of the five defendants he named in
his complaint. Plaintiff was also ordered to provide additional copies of his complaint in
order to effect proper service upon the defendants. Plaintiff was given thirty days to
On December 22, 2011, Plaintiff provided the names and addresses of the four
persons whom he named as defendants in addition to the Michigan Department of
Corrections. Plaintiff also filed an amended complaint, which was essentially the same
as his original complaint; the amended complaint included some additional exhibits.
Plaintiff, however, failed to provide sufficient copies of his complaint. On February 3,
2012, the court dismissed Plaintiff’s complaint without prejudice for lack of prosecution
because Plaintiff had failed to comply with Magistrate Judge Whalen’s deficiency order.
Plaintiff subsequently filed a motion to amend his complaint, a proposed supplemental
amended complaint, and an ex parte motion for case status. On January 28, 2013, the
court denied Plaintiff’s motions.
Plaintiff has now once again filed a complaint, which the court construes as a
motion to amend his original complaint. Plaintiff has also filed a motion for the
appointment of counsel. For the reasons that follow, the motions will be denied.
The court is without power to grant Plaintiff’s motion to amend his complaint
because Plaintiff’s case was originally dismissed for want of prosecution based upon his
failure to cure the deficiency in his filing. This court would first need to reopen Plaintiff’s
case before Plaintiff would be permitted to submit an amended complaint. See In re
Ferro Corp. Derivative Litigation, 511 F.3d 611, 624 (6th Cir. 2008). “Following entry of
final judgment, a party may not seek to amend their [sic] complaint without first moving
to alter, set aside or vacate judgment pursuant to either Rule 59 or Rule 60 of the
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.” Id. (quoting Morse v. McWhorter, 290 F.3d 795, 799
(6th Cir. 2002)). Therefore, unless post-judgment relief is granted, a district court does
not have the power to grant a motion to amend the complaint pursuant to Fed. R. Civ.
P. 15(a). Id. (quoting Acevedo–Villalobos v. Hernandez, 22 F.3d 384, 389 (1st
Cir.1994)). Because Plaintiff does not have a live case or controversy pending before
this court and has not moved for relief from judgment, he is not entitled to amend his
The court will also deny Plaintiff’s motion for the appointment of counsel.
Although there is a fundamental constitutional right to counsel in a criminal case, there
is no constitutional right to appointed counsel in a civil case. See Abdur-Rahman v.
Michigan Dep’t of Corrections, 65 F. 3d 489, 492 (6th Cir. 1995). Plaintiff also does not
have a statutory right to the appointment of counsel in a federal civil rights case. See
Glover v. Johnson, 75 F. 3d 264, 268 (6th Cir. 1996). Accordingly,
IT IS ORDERED that Plaintiff’s “complaint,” construed as a motion to amend the
original complaint, [Dkt. # 16], and Plaintiff’s motion for appointment of counsel, [Dkt.
# 17], are both DENIED.
s/Robert H. Cleland
ROBERT H. CLELAND
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Dated: October 4, 2013
I hereby certify that a copy of the foregoing document was mailed to counsel of record
on this date, October 4, 2013, by electronic and/or ordinary mail.
Case Manager and Deputy Clerk
S:\Cleland\JUDGE'S DESK\C1 ORDERS\11-15342.SMITH.DenyMoitonAmendComplaint.rljr.wpd
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