Criminal Productions, Inc. v. Doe 1 et al

Filing 51

ORDER denying dft Winter's 47 Motion to Appoint Counsel by Judge Richard A Jones.(RS) cc Winter

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HONORABLE RICHARD A. JONES 1 2 3 4 5 6 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT WESTERN DISTRICT OF WASHINGTON AT SEATTLE 7 8 CRIMINAL PRODUCTIONS, INC., 9 10 11 Plaintiff, Case Nos. C16-1351-RAJ v. ORDER DARRELL GUNDERMAN, et al., 12 Defendants. 13 14 This matter comes before the Court on pro se Defendant Adam Winter’s Motion to 15 Appoint Counsel. Dkt. # 47. Having considered the motion, relevant portions of the 16 record, and the applicable law, the Court DENIES Winter’s motion. 17 Plaintiff Criminal Productions, LLC filed an amended complaint alleging that 18 Winter’s IP address was observed infringing upon its copyright to the movie, Criminal. 19 Dkt. # 15 at 7 (Am. Compl. ¶ 25). Winter did not file an answer within the timeframe 20 required by Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12. Plaintiff moved for default judgment. 21 Dkt. # 44. Winter responded to Plaintiff’s amended complaint, but did so without 22 substantively responding to Plaintiff’s specific allegations. Dkt. # 46. On the same day, 23 Winter also filed the instant motion to appoint counsel. Dkt. # 47. Given Winter’s pro se 24 status, the Court denied without prejudice Plaintiff’s motion for default pending a ruling 25 on his motion to appoint counsel. Dkt. # 49. 26 This is a civil action where, as a general matter, a defendant does not have a right 27 to counsel. See Storseth v. Spellman, 654 F.2d 1349, 1353 (9th Cir. 1981). The court 28 ORDER – 1 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 may under “exceptional circumstances” appoint counsel for indigent civil litigants pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(1). Agyeman v. Corrs. Corp. of Am., 390 F.3d 1101, 1103 (9th Cir. 2004). “A finding of exceptional circumstances requires an evaluation of both ‘the likelihood of success on the merits and the ability of the petitioner to articulate his claims pro se in light of the complexity of the legal issues involved.’” Wilborn v. Escalderon, 789 F.2d 1328, 1331 (9th Cir. 1986) (quoting Weygandt v. Look, 718 F.2d 952, 954 (9th Cir. 1983)). The Court finds that Winter has not established exceptional circumstances necessitating the appointment of counsel. In particular, Winter has not demonstrated an inability to articulate his legal defenses pro se. Since filing the instant motion, Winter filed a motion to dismiss contending that the actions associated with his IP address are unreliable evidence of copyright infringement. Dkt. # 50. According to Winter, it is common for hackers to misappropriate IP addresses and then commit misconduct that is wrongly attributed to the individual associated with the IP address. Id. While it is unclear at this point whether Winter himself claims to have fallen victim to hackers, it is clear he is able to articulate his defense to Plaintiff’s lawsuit. For these reasons, the Court DENIES Winter’s Motion to Appoint Counsel. Dkt. # 47. As previously ordered by the Court, within ten (10) days from the date of this Order, Winter must file an answer containing substantive responses to the allegations in Plaintiff’s amended complaint. Dkt. # 49. Failure to comply with this requirement will likely result in default judgment against Winter. 22 23 DATED this 3rd day of April, 2017. 24 26 A 27 The Honorable Richard A. Jones United States District Judge 25 28 ORDER – 2

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