Sorensson v. County of Carteret et al
ORDER denying 35 Motion to Appoint Counsel; MOTION to schedule a meeting regarding discover plan and granting 36 Motion for Extension of Time. Signed by US Magistrate Judge Robert B. Jones, Jr on 11/15/2017. Counsel is reminded to read the order in its entirety for important information. Certified copy of order sent to Karolina Sorrenson via US Mail to 615 Flybridge Lane, Beaufort, NC 28516. (Stouch, L.)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF NORTH CAROLINA
COUNTY OF CARTERET, et al.,
This matter is before the court on the motions of the pro se Plaintiff for appointment of pro
bona counsel and to schedule a Rule 26(f) meeting [DE-35] and for an extension of time to submit
a discovery plan [DE-36]. Plaintiff asserts that she and Defendant's counsel were unable to agree
on scheduling the Rule 26(f) meeting and that due to health issues Plaintiff requires additional time
to prepare a discovery plan. For the reasons that follow, Plaintiffs motion for appointment ofpro
bona counsel and to schedule a Rule 26(f) meeting [DE-35] is denied and Plaintiff's motion for an
extension of time to submit a discovery plan [DE-36] is allowed.
Plaintiffs case was submitted to the court's pro bona panel for consideration, but no attorney
expressed interest in the case. There has been no change in the posture of the case to engender a
different result were the case resubmitted to the panel at this time. Furthermore, there is no
constitutional right to counsel in civil cases, and courts should exercise their discretion to appoint
counsel for prose civil litigants "only in exceptional cases." Cookv. Bounds, 518 F.2d 779, 780 (4th
Cir. 1975). The existence of exceptional circumstances justifying appointment of counsel depends
upon "the type and complexity of the case, and the abilities of the individuals bringing it."
Whisenant v. Yuam, 739 F.2d 160, 163 (4th Cir. 1984), abrogated on other grounds by Mallard v.
US. Dist. Court for the S. Dist. ofIowa, 490 U.S. 296 (1989) (quoting Branch v. Cole, 686 F.2d 264
(5th Cir. 1982)); see also Gordon v. Leeke, 574 F.2d 1147, 1153 (4th Cir. 1978) ("Ifit is apparent
... that a pro se litigant has a colorable claim but lacks capacity to present it, the district court should
appoint counsel to assist him."). Neither the complexity of the case nor Plaintiffs abilities establish
the exceptional circumstances necessary to justify appointment of counsel in this case. Accordingly,
Plaintiffs request for appointment of pro bona counsel is denied.
The parties were ordered to conduct a Rule 26(f) meeting by October 18, 2017 and were
advised that "[t]he attorneys ofrecord and all unrepresented parties that have appeared in the case
are jointly responsible for arranging the conference and for attempting in good faith to agree on the
proposed discovery plan." [DE-32]. The court expects Plaintiff and Defendant's counsel to work
in good faith to accomplish the directives set forth in the court's orders and to comply with the
Federal and Local Rules that govern this matter, and the court declines to unilaterally impose a date
for the Rule 26(f) conference. That said, Plaintiff has shown good cause shown for an extension of
time to comply with the order for discovery plan and the request is allowed.
Defendant's counsel shall conduct the Rule 26(f) meeting at a mutually agreeable date and time no
later than December 5, 2017, and the joint proposed discovery plan, or the parties' respective
positions, must be submitted to the court within 14 days after the Rule 26(f) meeting.
SO ORDERED, the
/fclay of November 2017.
United States Magistrate Judge
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