Cain v. Bureau of Prisons et al
ORDER denying 35 Motion to Appoint Counsel Signed by Honorable Malachy E Mannion on 1/6/21 (ep)
Case 3:17-cv-00105-MEM-DB Document 37 Filed 01/06/21 Page 1 of 3
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
MIDDLE DISTRICT OF PENNSYLVANIA
CIVIL ACTION NO. 3:17-0105
Petitioner, Lenny Cain, an inmate confined in the Allenwood Federal
Correctional Institution, White Deer, Pennsylvania, filed the instant petition
for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §2241. (Doc. 1). Presently
before the Court is Petitioner’s motion for appointment of counsel (Doc. 35).
For the following reasons, the Court will deny the motion.
Although prisoners have no constitutional or statutory rights to
appointment of counsel in federal habeas corpus proceedings, Coleman v.
Thompson, 501 U.S. 772, 752 (1991), the court has broad discretionary
power to appoint counsel to a financially eligible habeas petitioner if “the
interests of justice so require. . .” See 18 U.S.C. §3006A(a)(2); see also
Montgomery v. Pinchak, 294 F.3d 492, 499 (3d Cir. 2002); Tabron v. Grace,
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6 F.3d 147, 153 (3d Cir. 1993). The United States Court of Appeals for the
Third Circuit has stated that appointment of counsel for an indigent litigant
should be made when circumstances indicate “the likelihood of substantial
prejudice to him resulting, for example, from his probable inability without
such assistance to present the facts and legal issues to the court in a
complex but arguably meritorious case.” Smith-Bey v. Petsock, 741 F.2d 22,
26 (3d Cir. 1984).
The initial determination to be made by the court in evaluating the
expenditure of the “precious commodity” of volunteer counsel is whether the
petitioner’s case has some arguable merit in fact and law. Montgomery, 294
F.3d at 499. If a petitioner overcomes this threshold hurdle, other factors to
be examined are:
the claimant’s ability to present his or her own case;
the difficulty of the particular legal issues;
the degree to which factual investigation will be necessary and
the ability of the claimant to pursue investigation;
the claimant’s capacity to retain counsel on his or her own behalf;
the extent to which the case is likely to turn on credibility
whether the case will require testimony from expert witnesses.
Montgomery, 294 F.3d at 499 (citing Tabron, 6 F.3d at 155-57).
As an initial matter, the petition appears to have arguable merit.
However, Cain fails to set forth circumstances warranting appointment of
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counsel. Tabron, supra, at 155-56. In his petition, Cain, demonstrates the
ability to present comprehensible arguments. The legal issues in this case
are relatively clear and will not require expert testimony. Furthermore,
despite his incarceration, investigation of the facts does not seem beyond
Based on the foregoing, it does not appear that Cain will suffer
prejudice if allowed to prosecute this case on his own. Furthermore, this
court’s duty to construe pro se pleadings liberally, Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S.
519 (1972), coupled with Cain’s apparent ability to litigate this action, militate
against the appointment of counsel. Hence, the court will deny Cain’s motion
for appointment of counsel. In the event, however, that future proceedings
demonstrate the need for counsel, the matter may be reconsidered either
sua sponte or upon motion of Petitioner.
IT IS HEREBY ORDERED THAT Petitioner’s motion for appointment
of counsel (Doc. 35) is DENIED.
s/ Malachy E. Mannion
MALACHY E. MANNION
United States District Judge
Dated: January 6, 2021
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