Bryant v. Kaskie et al
ORDER re 49 Letter: IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that Plaintiff's request seeking appointment of counsel is DENIED. Signed by Honorable Matthew W. Brann on 5/16/2017. (jn)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE MIDDLE DISTRICT OF PENNSYLVANIA
KAREN KASKIE, ET AL.,
CIVIL NO. 4:15-CV-820
MAY 16, 2017
This pro se civil rights action was filed by James Bryant, an inmate
presently confined at the Mahanoy State Correctional Institution, Frackville,
Pennsylvania (SCI-Mahanoy). By Memorandum and Order dated February 16,
2016, Defendant Kaskie’s motion to dismiss the amended complaint for failure to
state a claim was granted. Plaintiff alleges that Remaining Defendant
Superintendent Mooney violated his constitutional rights during his prior
confinement at the State Correctional Institution, Coal Township, Pennsylvania
(SCI-Coal Twp.). Presently pending is Plaintiff’s request seeking appointment of
counsel. See Doc. 49.
Although prisoners have no constitutional or statutory rights to appointment
of counsel in a civil case, this Court does have broad discretionary power to
appoint counsel under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(1). Tabron v. Grace, 6 F.3d 147, 153
(3d Cir. 1993), cert. denied, 510 U.S. 1196 (1994); Ray v. Robinson, 640 F.2d 474,
477 (3d Cir. 1981). 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 Third Circuit has similarly held that “[i]ndigent civil litigants possess
neither a constitutional nor a statutory right to appointed counsel.” Montgomery v.
Pinchak, 294 F.3d 492, 498 (3d Cir. 2002) (citation omitted). Montgomery also
reiterated that the criteria developed in Tabron should be employed in addressing
the appointment of counsel issue.
In a non-precedential decision, Gordon v. Gonzalez, No. 04-4623, 2007 WL
1241583 * 2 n. 4 (3d Cir. April 30, 2007), the Third Circuit added that two other
factors to be taken into consideration are: (1) the court’s willingness to aid the
indigent party in presenting his or her case; and (2) the available supply of lawyers
willing to accept § 1915(e) requests within the relevant geographical area.
Bryant’s pending request fails to set forth sufficient special circumstances or
factors that would warrant appointment of counsel at the present time. Tabron,
supra, at 155-56. In the pleadings submitted by Plaintiff to date, he has
demonstrated that he is presently capable of presenting comprehensible arguments.
Furthermore, this Court's liberal construction of pro se pleadings, Haines v. Kerner,
404 U.S. 519 (1972), coupled with Bryant’s current ability to litigate this action
pro se, mitigate against the appointment of counsel. In addition, the legal issues
here are relatively uncomplicated, and the Court cannot say, at least at this point,
that Plaintiff will suffer substantial prejudice if he is forced to prosecute this case
on his own.
Therefore, Bryant’s request for appointment of counsel is denied. In the
event, however, that future proceedings demonstrate the need for counsel, the
matter may be reconsidered either sua sponte or upon a motion properly filed by
NOW, IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that:
Plaintiff’s request (Doc. 49) seeking appointment of counsel is
BY THE COURT:
s/ Matthew W. Brann
Matthew W. Brann
United States District Judge
Disclaimer: Justia Dockets & Filings provides public litigation records from the federal appellate and district courts. These filings and docket sheets should not be considered findings of fact or liability, nor do they necessarily reflect the view of Justia.
Why Is My Information Online?