Moreno v. GEO Group et al.
ORDER by Magistrate Judge Stephan M. Vidmar GRANTING in part 20 Plaintiff's Motion to Appoint Counsel. This matter will be referred to the pro bono panel. (am)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF NEW MEXICO
No. 16-cv-0013 JCH/SMV
GEO GROUP; CORIZON, INC.;
and FNU WALDEN;
ORDER GRANTING IN PART
MOTION FOR APPOINTMENT OF COUNSEL
THIS MATTER is before the Court on Plaintiff’s untitled letter requesting appointment of
counsel [Doc. 20], filed on March 17, 2017. Plaintiff is incarcerated and proceeding pro se in this
42 U.S.C. § 1983 action. He reports that he does not know the law nor how to “defend” himself,
and neither speaks nor reads English. [Doc. 20]. Accordingly, he asks the Court to appoint an
attorney for him.
However, United States District Courts lack the authority to appoint counsel to represent
indigent prisoners in § 1983 cases. Mallard v. United States Dist. Court, 490 U.S. 296, 298
(1989); Rachel v. Troutt, 820 F.3d 390, 396–97 (10th Cir. 2016).
In certain exceptional
circumstances, a court may request the voluntary assistance of counsel pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
§ 1915(e)(1). In deciding whether to request voluntary assistance of counsel, courts should
consider “the merits of the litigant’s claims, the nature of the factual issues raised in the claims, the
litigant’s ability to present his claims, and the complexity of the legal issues raised by the claims.”
Rucks v. Boergermann, 57 F.3d 978, 979 (10th Cir. 1995) (internal quotation marks omitted).
Ultimately, the burden is on the plaintiff “to convince the court that there is sufficient merit to his
claim to warrant [a request for voluntary assistance] of counsel.” Hill v. Smithkline Beecham
Corp., 393 F.3d 1111, 1115 (10th Cir. 2004) (internal quotation marks omitted).
The Court has considered the response in opposition, filed by Defendant Corizon, Inc.
Nevertheless, at this time, the Court is persuaded that Plaintiff’s claims are
sufficiently meritorious and complex. Moreover, Plaintiff neither reads nor speaks English.
Requesting the voluntary assistance of counsel is warranted.
IT IS THEREFORE ORDERED, ADJUDGED, AND DECREED that Plaintiff’s
untitled letter requesting appointment of counsel [Doc. 20] is GRANTED to the extent that the
Court will request the voluntary assistance of an attorney by referring this case to the Court’s
pro bono panel. It will be up to the members of the panel to determine whether any would like to
represent Plaintiff. If an attorney is interested, he or she will contact Plaintiff directly.
IT IS SO ORDERED.
STEPHAN M. VIDMAR
United States Magistrate Judge
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