Braun v. D.O.C. et al
ORDER denying without prejudice 33 Motion to Appoint Counsel; setting briefing schedule on 28 Motion to Dismiss (Written Opinion). Signed by Magistrate Judge Steven E. Rau on 10/11/2019. (GFK)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
DISTRICT OF MINNESOTA
Nathan Christopher Braun,
Case No. 18-cv-3355 (JNE/SER)
Dennis Hanson, et al.,
Braun filed suit on December 10, 2018. (ECF No. 1). The Court ordered that
Braun pay an initial particle filing fee before his suit could proceed. (ECF No. 3). The
Court also noted some deficiencies in Braun’s complaint. (ECF No. 3, at 3–4 n.2). Braun
then filed an amended complaint. (ECF No. 4). Again, the Court noted deficiencies in
Braun’s amended complaint, noting that little factual support was pleaded for his claims.
(ECF No. 8). Braun was permitted an opportunity to correct these defects. (ECF No. 8, at
Braun filed his second amended complaint on May 24, 2019. (ECF No. 9). Briefly,
Braun asserts he initiated a hunger strike while in prison. (ECF No. 9, at 1). Braun
asserts he was then moved to another cell and, in the process, his shoulder was dislocated,
prison officials twice used chemical deterrents, he was pushed down a flight of stairs,
bones in his wrist were broken causing ongoing nerve damage, a lumber disk herniated
causing sciatica, his face was cut and bleeding, and restraints were used to purposefully
cause pain. (ECF No. 9, at 2). Braun asserts he was denied healthcare services, he was
left in a cell with inadequate clothing, no water, no shower, and no legal materials. (ECF
No. 9, at 1–2). Confusingly, Braun asserts prison health providers were not notified of his
hunger strike and that he was denied food and water for four days. (ECF No. 9, at 2).
Braun claims he was denied access to legal mail, legal counsel, and his therapist. (ECF
No. 9, at 2–3). Braun claims that reports of the incident were falsified to cover up prison
officials’ use of force and attempts to kill Braun via starvation. (ECF No. 9, at 2). Braun
requests placement in administrative segregation for his own protection, for criminal and
civil charges to be filed against Defendants, and $1.5 million dollars. (ECF No. 9, at 3).
Defendants have moved to dismiss Braun’s second amended complaint. (ECF
No. 28). Braun has not yet responded to that motion, but instead has requested
appointment of counsel. (ECF Nos. 33, 34).
“There is no constitutional or statutory right to appointed counsel in civil cases.”
Phillips v. Jasper Cnty. Jail, 437 F.3d 791, 794 (8th Cir. 2006). Rather, “[t]he court may
request an attorney to represent any person unable to afford counsel.” 28 U.S.C.
§ 1915(e)(1) (emphasis added). “The relevant criteria for determining whether counsel
should be appointed include the factual complexity of the issues, the ability of the
indigent person to investigate the facts, the existence of conflicting testimony, the ability
of the indigent person to present the claims, and the complexity of the legal arguments.”
Phillips, 437 F.3d at 794. Courts enjoy “a good deal of discretion to determine whether
representation is warranted given the nature of the case and the litigants.” Chambers v.
Pennycook, 641 F.3d 898, 909 (8th Cir. 2011).
After careful review, the Court concludes that appointment of counsel is not
warranted and Braun’s motion is therefore denied without prejudice. The factual and
legal issues underlying this litigation are not complex; Braun’s claims stem from one
incident and the handling of that incident. While Braun notes the disparity between his
pro se status and Defendants’ representation, this is not sufficient for appointed civil
counsel. Pro se parties navigate the court system daily. The Court simply cannot appoint
a lawyer in every civil case filed by a pro se party. And while Braun notes the litigation
may be a hardship on him given his borderline personality disorder, Braun has not shown
any difficulties to date. Braun has complied with the Court’s previous order regarding
payment of fees and amendment of his complaint. As such, the Court concludes that
appointment of counsel is not warranted at this time. Therefore, Braun’s Motion to
Request Appointment of Counsel for Professional Representation, (ECF No. 33), is
DENIED WITHOUT PREJUDICE.
Finally, the Court must set a briefing schedule for Defendants’ Motion to Dismiss.
(ECF No. 28). The following schedule shall govern briefing in this matter:
1. Braun’s response is due November 8, 2019;
2. Defendants’ reply is due November 22, 2019;
3. Braun’s surreply is due December 13, 2019; and
4. The matter will then be taken under advisement on the written submissions.
Date: October 11, 2019
s/ Steven E. Rau
Steven E. Rau
United States Magistrate Judge
District of Minnesota
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