Jenkins v. State of Utah et al
MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER granting 48 Motion to Withdraw as Counsel. Attorney David J. Holdsworth withdrawn from case for Plaintiff. Plaintiff's 51 Motion to Appoint Counsel is denied. Signed by Magistrate Judge Jared C. Bennett on 11/18/2021. (eat)
Case 2:19-cv-00886-DAK-JCB Document 53 Filed 11/18/21 PageID.701 Page 1 of 4
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
DISTRICT OF UTAH
STATE OF UTAH, et al.,
Case No. 2:19-cv-00886-DAK-JCB
District Judge Dale A. Kimball
Magistrate Judge Jared C. Bennett
This case was referred to Magistrate Judge Jared C. Bennett under 28 U.S.C.
§ 636(b)(1)(A). 1 Before the court are: (1) Plaintiff Andrea Jenkins’s (“Ms. Jenkins”) counsel’s
motion to withdraw, 2 and (2) Ms. Jenkins’s motion for appointment of counsel. 3 The court
addresses the motions in turn below. Based upon the following analysis, the court grants Ms.
Jenkins’s counsel’s motion to withdraw and denies Ms. Jenkins’s motion for appointment of
First, the court grants Ms. Jenkins’s counsel’s motion to withdraw. Ms. Jenkins’s counsel
moved to withdraw, and Ms. Jenkins filed a response urging the court to grant counsel’s motion. 4
ECF Nos. 4, 18.
ECF No. 48.
ECF No. 51.
Id. at 13.
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Because counsel and Ms. Jenkins agree to the withdrawal and because the motion complies with
DUCivR 83-1.4, Ms. Jenkins’s counsel is permitted to withdraw from this case.
Second, the court denies Ms. Jenkins’s motion for appointment of counsel. Ms. Jenkins
asks the court to appoint counsel because: (1) she lacks legal knowledge and skills, (2) “it is
highly unlikely” that she will be able to find an attorney to represent her on a contingency basis,
and (3) she cannot afford to pay an attorney to represent her. 5 Although “[t]here is no
constitutional right to appointed counsel in a civil case,” 6 the court may appoint an attorney to
represent a litigant who is unable to afford counsel. 7 “The appointment of counsel in a civil case
is left to the sound discretion of the district court.” 8 When exercising its discretion whether to
appoint counsel, the court considers certain factors, “including the merits of the litigant’s claims,
the nature of the factual issues raised in the claims, the litigant’s ability to present [her] claims,
and the complexity of the legal issues raised by the claims.” 9 Ultimately, “[t]he burden is upon
Durre v. Dempsey, 869 F.2d 543, 547 (10th Cir. 1989) (per curiam).
28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(1). Although this and other courts discuss the “appointment of counsel” in
the context of a civil case, that phrase is technically inaccurate because the court lacks the
authority to “appoint counsel” in a civil case as it does in a criminal case. In a civil action, such
as the one at issue here, all the court can do is request counsel to take the case, and counsel can
decline. Mallard v. U.S. Dist. Court for the S. Dist. of Iowa, 490 U.S. 296, 307-08 (1989)
(recognizing that courts cannot compel an unwilling attorney to represent a party in a civil case).
Shabazz v. Askins, 14 F.3d 533, 535 (10th Cir. 1994).
Rucks v. Boergermann, 57 F.3d 978, 979 (10th Cir. 1995) (quotations and citations omitted).
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the applicant to convince the court that there is sufficient merit to [her] claim[s] to warrant the
appointment of counsel.” 10
Ms. Jenkins fails to meet her burden because, among other things, she presents no
argument concerning the merits of her case. For that reason alone, her request for appointed
counsel fails. Second, the nature of the factual issues raised by Ms. Jenkins’s claims do not
appear to be complicated or difficult to explain. Third, although the court acknowledges Ms.
Jenkins’s alleged financial difficulties, there is no indication that she is unable to pursue this case
adequately. Finally, the legal issues raised by Ms. Jenkins’s claims are not so complex as to
require the appointment of counsel. For those reasons, Ms. Jenkins’s motion for appointment of
counsel is denied at this time without prejudice. Consequently, if it appears that counsel may be
needed or of specific help after this case progresses, the court may then ask an attorney to appear
pro bono on Ms. Jenkins’s behalf.
For the reasons set forth above, IT IS HEREBY ORDERED:
Ms. Jenkins’s counsel’s motion to withdraw 11 is GRANTED.
Ms. Jenkins’s counsel is permitted to withdraw from this case.
Ms. Jenkins’s motion to appoint counsel 12 is DENIED.
McCarthy v. Weinberg, 753 F.2d 836, 838 (10th Cir. 1985) (per curiam).
ECF No. 48.
ECF No. 51.
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IT IS SO ORDERED.
DATED November 18, 2021.
BY THE COURT:
JARED C. BENNETT
United States Magistrate Judge
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