Torres v. City of New York et al
ORDER denying without prejudice to renewal 80 Application for the Court to Request Counsel. At this early stage in the proceedings, the Court is unable to conclude that Plaintiff's claims are likely to have merit, although that ma y change as the litigation progresses. Accordingly, Plaintiff's application for the appointment of pro bono counsel is DENIED without prejudice to possible renewal at a later stage in the case. Plaintiff may, however, seek advice from the New York Legal Assistance Group by calling 212-659-6190. The Clerk of the Court is respectfully directed to terminate the motion, Doc. 80. (Signed by Judge Edgardo Ramos on 10/13/2020) (mro)
Case 1:19-cv-06332-ER Document 82 Filed 10/13/20 Page 1 of 2
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK
CITY OF NEW YORK; NEIL VERAS; PATRICIA DE
JESUS, Shield No. 1305; DIOASKY PENA, Shield
No. 10240; DANIEL PEARLES, Shield No. 15167;
MATEUSZ HADER, Shield No. 9149; NEW YORK
CITY HEALTH AND HOSPITALS; ARKAPRAVA
DEB, M.D.; and STEVEN LASLEY, M.D.,
19 Civ. 6332 (ER)
Wilfredo Torres, pro se, alleges violation of his constitutional rights by the City of New
York (the “City”), New York City Health and Hospitals (“NYCHH”), Neil Veras, Patricia De
Jesus and several John Doe Defendants. Doc. 1. On February 7, 2020 the Court issued an order,
pursuant to Valentin v. Dinkins, 121 F.3d 72 (2d Cir. 1997), directing the City and NYCHH to
identify the John Doe Defendants and directing Plaintiﬀ to amend the complaint within thirty
days of their compliance with the Court’s Order. Doc. 14 at 3. �e City and NYCHH complied
with the Court’s Order, providing the names and addresses of the John Doe defendants—Police
Oﬃcers Daniel Pearles and Mateusz Hader, and Doctor Arkaprava Deb—by September 10,
2020. Docs. 72, 73, 77. On October 9, 2020, Plaintiﬀ ﬁled his second amended complaint.
Plaintiﬀ also requested assignment of pro bono counsel. Doc. 80.
Courts do not have the power to obligate attorneys to represent pro se litigants in civil
cases. Mallard v. U.S. Dist. Ct. for the S. Dist. of Iowa, 490 U.S. 296, 310 (1989). Instead,
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(1), the Court may, in its discretion, order that the Pro Se Office
Case 1:19-cv-06332-ER Document 82 Filed 10/13/20 Page 2 of 2
request that an attorney represent an indigent litigant by placing the matter on a list that is
circulated to attorneys who are members of the Court’s Pro Bono Panel. Palacio v. City of New
York, 489 F. Supp. 2d 335, 344 (S.D.N.Y. 2007). The standards governing the appointment of
counsel in pro se cases were set forth by the Second Circuir in Hendricks v. Coughlin, 114 F.3d
390, 392 (2d Cir. 1997), Cooper v. A. Sargenti Co., 877 F.2d 170, 172 (2d Cir. 1989), and Hodge
v. Police Officers, 802 F.2d 58, 60–61 (2d Cir. 1986). Factors to be considered in ruling on an
indigent litigant’s request for counsel include the merits of the case and Plaintiff’s ability to
gather the facts and present the case if unassisted by counsel. See Dolan v. Connolly, 794 F.3d
290, 296 (2d Cir. 2015) (citing factors set forth in Hodge, 802 F.2d at 60–62). Of these, the
Court must “first determine whether the indigent’s position seems likely to be of substance,”
Hodge, 802 F.2d at 61, and, if this threshold requirement is met, then the Court must consider
additional factors, including the pro se litigant’s “ability to handle the case without assistance,”
Cooper, 877 F.2d at 172; accord Hendricks, 114 F.3d at 392.
At this early stage in the proceedings, the Court is unable to conclude that Plaintiff’s
claims are likely to have merit, although that may change as the litigation progresses.
Accordingly, Plaintiff’s application for the appointment of pro bono counsel is DENIED without
prejudice to possible renewal at a later stage in the case. Plaintiff may, however, seek advice
from the New York Legal Assistance Group by calling 212-659-6190. The Clerk of the Court is
respectfully directed to terminate the motion, Doc. 80.
It is SO ORDERED.
October 13, 2020
New York, New York
EDGARDO RAMOS, U.S.D.J.
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