Roberts v. Snohomish County et al

Filing 96

ORDER denying plaintiff's 91 Motion regarding witness issues signed by Hon. James P. Donohue.**3 PAGE(S), PRINT ALL**(Joe Roberts, Prisoner ID: 394089)(RS)

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1 2 3 4 5 6 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT WESTERN DISTRICT OF WASHINGTON AT SEATTLE 7 8 9 JOE J.W. ROBERTS, JR., Plaintiff, 10 11 12 13 Case No. C16-1464-TSZ-JPD ORDER DENYING PLAINTIFF’S MOTION RE: WITNESS ISSUES v. SNOHOMISH COUNTY, et al., Defendants. 14 15 This is a civil rights action brought under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. This matter comes before 16 the Court at the present time on plaintiff’s motion regarding witness issues which is, in essence, a 17 request for the Court to reconsider its denial of plaintiff’s previous requests for appointment of 18 counsel. Plaintiff asserts in his motion that he suffers from mental health disabilities which 19 prevent him from effectively litigating this action. (See Dkt. 91.) He maintains that because of 20 his mental health issues, he struggles with complexities such as arranging for witnesses and 21 gathering statements or other evidence to support his claims. (Id. at 2.) Plaintiff also maintains, 22 as he has in past submissions, that his incarceration also severely hinders his ability to arrange 23 ORDER DENYING PLAINTIFF’S MOTION RE: WITNESS ISSUES - 1 1 for witnesses and gather evidence. (Dkt. 91 at 2.) Plaintiff asserts that these impediments to 2 effectively litigating this action violate his right to due process, and he asks that the Court 3 reconsider its previous denials of his requests for appointment of counsel. (Id. at 4.) 4 Plaintiff’s due process rights are simply not implicated by the Court’s denials of his prior 5 requests for counsel. As plaintiff has previously been advised, there is no constitutional right to 6 counsel for claims brought under § 1983. See Storseth v. Spellman, 654 F.2d 1349, 1353 (9th Cir. 7 1981) (citing Aldabe v. Aldabe, 616 F.2d 1089, 1093 (9th Cir. 1980)). Even if the Court were to 8 construe plaintiff’s argument as one akin to a claim of denial of access to the court, plaintiff still 9 fails to demonstrate any entitlement to the assistance of counsel. 10 It is well established that inmates have a constitutional right of meaningful access to the 11 courts which is premised on the Due Process Clause. See Bounds v. Smith, 430 U.S. 817, 821 12 (1977). The Ninth Circuit has “traditionally differentiated between two types of access to court 13 claims: those involving prisoners’ right[s] to affirmative assistance and those involving 14 prisoners’ rights to litigate without active interference.” Silva v. Di Vittorio, 658 F. 3d 1090, 15 1102 (9th Cir. 2011) (emphasis in source), overruled on other grounds as stated by Richey v. 16 Dahne, 807 F.3d 1202, 1209 n. 6 (9th Cir. 2015). The instant action involves, at most, plaintiff’s 17 right to affirmative assistance. In such circumstances, the right of access to the courts is limited 18 to the pleading stage. See id. at 1103 (citing Lewis v. Casey, 518 U.S. 343, 354 (1996)). This 19 action is well past the pleading stage and, thus, any right to affirmative assistance has expired. 20 21 Plaintiff has simply not established any violation of his due process rights arising out of the Court’s denials of his prior requests for counsel. The Court also notes, in light of the 22 23 ORDER DENYING PLAINTIFF’S MOTION RE: WITNESS ISSUES - 2 1 arguments presented in the instant motion, that plaintiff has still not demonstrated the existence 2 of exceptional circumstances which warrant appointment of counsel under 28 U.S.C. 3 § 1915(e)(1). 4 Based on the foregoing, this Court ORDERS as follows: 5 (1) Plaintiff’s motion regarding witness issues (Dkt. 91) is DENIED. 6 (2) The Clerk shall send copies of this Order to plaintiff, to counsel for defendants, 7 8 and to the Honorable Thomas S. Zilly. DATED this 10th day of August, 2017. A 9 JAMES P. DONOHUE Chief United States Magistrate Judge 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 ORDER DENYING PLAINTIFF’S MOTION RE: WITNESS ISSUES - 3

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