Peterson v. Social Security, Commissioner of
ORDER DENYING Plaintiff's 14 Request filed by Dwayne Peterson, and GRANTING Plaintiff's 15 Request filed by Dwayne Peterson--Signed by Magistrate Judge Anthony P. Patti. (MWil)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF MICHIGAN
Case No. 4:17-cv-11760
District Judge Victoria A. Roberts
Magistrate Judge Anthony P. Patti
ORDER DENYING WITHOUT PREJUDICE PLAINTIFF’S REQUEST
FOR REPRESENTATION (DE 14) AND GRANTING PLAINTIFF’S
REQUEST FOR EXTENSION (DE 15)
This matter is before the Court for consideration of Plaintiff Dwayne
Peterson’s request for representation and request for extension. (DE 14, 15.) For
the reasons that follow, Plaintiff’s request for representation (DE 14) is DENIED
WITHOUT PREJUDICE and Plaintiff’s request for extension (DE 15) is
Plaintiff filed a civil complaint appealing the denial of social security
benefits. (DE 1.) On June 2, 2017, this case was referred to me for all pretrial
purposes by District Judge Victoria A. Roberts. (DE 4.) Plaintiff filed the request
for representation on September 8, 2017, asking the Court to appoint an attorney in
this civil matter “due to hardship.” (DE 14.) Plaintiff filed the request for
extension on September 12, 2017, requesting an extension to file his motion for
summary judgment. (DE 15.)
A. Request for Representation
As a preliminary matter, although Plaintiff styles his request for
representation as one for appointment of counsel, the Court does not have the
authority to appoint a private attorney for Plaintiff in this civil matter.
Proceedings in forma pauperis are governed by 28 U.S.C. § 1915, which provides
that “[t]he court may request an attorney to represent any person unable to afford
counsel.” 28 U.S.C. §1915(e)(1) (emphasis added). However, even if the
circumstances of Plaintiff’s case convinced the Court to engage in such a search,
“[t]here is no right to recruitment of counsel in federal civil litigation, but a
district court has discretion to recruit counsel under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(1).”
Dewitt v. Corizon, Inc., 760 F.3d 654, 657 (7th Cir. 2014) (emphasis added); see
also Lavado v. Keohane, 992 F.2d 601, 605-06 (6th Cir. 1993) (“Appointment of
counsel in a civil case is not a constitutional right. It is a privilege that is justified
only by exceptional circumstances.”) (internal citations omitted). The
appointment of counsel in a civil case, therefore, “is a privilege not a right.”
Childs v. Pellegrin, 822 F.2d 1382, 1384 (6th Cir. 1987) (internal quotation
The Supreme Court has held that there is a presumption that “an indigent
litigant has a right to appointed counsel only when, if he loses, he may be
deprived of his physical liberty.” Lassiter v. Dep’t of Soc. Servs., 452 U.S. 18, 2627 (1981). Accordingly, although the Court has the statutory authority to request
counsel for pro se plaintiffs in civil cases under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e), the exercise
of this authority is limited to exceptional situations.
In evaluating a matter for “exceptional circumstances,” a court should
consider: (1) the probable merit of the claims, (2) the nature of the case, (3) the
complexity of the legal and factual issues raised, and (4) the ability of the litigant
to represent him or herself. Lince v. Youngert, 136 F. App’x 779, 782 (6th Cir.
2005); Lavado, 992 F.2d at 605-06 (6th Cir. 1993); Lanier v. Bryant, 332 F.3d
999, 1006 (6th Cir. 2003).
Applying the foregoing authority, Plaintiff has not described any
circumstances to justify a motion for appointment of counsel at this time. Plaintiff
requests representation only “due to hardship.” Such a cursory statement does not
constitute extraordinary circumstances. Further, examining Plaintiff’s Complaint
and other filings to date, the Court does not find the exceptional circumstances
necessary to warrant the appointment of counsel. It appears that Plaintiff has an
adequate understanding of the issues and matters involved in this case, and that
the issues raised his Complaint are straightforward and not of an unduly complex
Accordingly, at this time, Plaintiff’s request for representation is DENIED
WITHOUT PREJUDICE. (DE 14.) Even through the undersigned does not
believe it is appropriate to find pro bono counsel for Plaintiff at this time, Plaintiff
may attempt to obtain counsel through his own efforts, such as retaining private
counsel or contacting a bar referral service.1
B. Request for Extension
Plaintiff’s request for an extension of time to file his motion for summary
judgment is GRANTED, and the Scheduling Order (DE 13) is amended as
follows: Plaintiff’s Motion of Summary Judgment due by October 13, 2017,
Defendant’s Response and Motion for Summary Judgment due by November
15, 2017, Plaintiff’s Reply due by November 27, 2017.
IT IS SO ORDERED.
Dated: September 14, 2017
s/Anthony P. Patti
Anthony P. Patti
UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
State Bar of Michigan Referral Service can be contacted at 1-800-968-0738.
Certificate of Service
I hereby certify that a copy of the foregoing document was sent to parties of record
on September 14, 2017, electronically and/or by U.S. Mail.
Case Manager for the
Honorable Anthony P. Patti
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