Rouse v. Hansen et al

Filing 12

ORDER denying Plaintiff's 11 Motion to Appoint Counsel. Signed by Magistrate Judge Grady J Leupold.**3 PAGE(S), PRINT ALL**(Rusty Rouse, Prisoner ID: 394698)(MW)

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1 2 3 4 5 6 7 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT WESTERN DISTRICT OF WASHINGTON AT TACOMA 8 9 10 11 12 13 RUSTY LEE ROUSE, v. Plaintiff, CASE NO. 3:24-cv-05068-TL-GJL ORDER DENYING SECOND MOTION TO APPOINT COUNSEL KEVIN HANSEN, et al., Defendants. 14 15 The District Court has referred this 42 U.S.C. § 1983 action to United States Magistrate 16 Judge Grady J. Leupold. Currently pending in this action is Plaintiff Rusty Lee Rouse’s Second 17 Motion to Appoint Counsel. Dkt. 11. Plaintiff has not demonstrated circumstances necessary for 18 appointment of counsel at this stage of his case, so his Motion is DENIED without prejudice. 19 I. LEGAL STANDARD 20 No constitutional right to appointed counsel exists in a § 1983 action. Storseth v. 21 Spellman, 654 F.2d 1349, 1353 (9th Cir. 1981); United States v. $292,888.04 in U.S. Currency, 22 54 F.3d 564, 569 (9th Cir. 1995) (“Appointment of counsel under this section is discretionary, 23 not mandatory.”). In “exceptional circumstances,” a district court may appoint counsel for 24 ORDER DENYING SECOND MOTION TO APPOINT COUNSEL - 1 1 indigent civil litigants pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(1). Rand v. Roland, 113F.3d 1520, 1525 2 (9th Cir. 1997), overruled on other grounds, 154 F.3d 952 (9th Cir. 1998). 3 To decide whether exceptional circumstances exist, the Court must evaluate (1) “the 4 likelihood of success on the merits” and (2) “the ability of the [plaintiff] to articulate his claims 5 pro se in light of the complexity of the legal issues involved.” Wilborn v. Escalderon, 789 F.2d 6 1328, 1331 (9th Cir. 1986) (quoting Weygandt v. Look, 718 F.2d 952, 954 (9th Cir. 1983)). Thus, 7 to obtain court-appointed counsel, a plaintiff must plead facts showing (1) he has an insufficient 8 grasp of his case or the legal issues involved and (2) an inadequate ability to articulate the factual 9 basis of his claims. See Agyeman v. Corrections Corp. of America, 390 F.3d 1101, 1103 (9th Cir. 10 11 12 13 14 2004). II. DISCUSSION Plaintiff makes several arguments for why he requires the assistance of court-appointed counsel. Each argument is unavailing. First, Plaintiff argues he requires counsel because his limited access to the law library at 15 Washington Corrections Center and the allegedly inadequate resources within that library 16 prevent him from effectively litigating this case. Dkt. 11 at 1–2. However, Plaintiff’s allegation 17 that he is unable to access legal research materials is undermined by the volume of legal citations 18 in the instant Motion. Id. at 3. Plaintiff supports each of his arguments with caselaw and a well- 19 reasoned explanation of why he believes the legal authority is applicable to his situation. Id. 20 Therefore, the Court finds Plaintiff has not plausibly demonstrated he is unable to perform 21 necessary legal research to prosecute this case. At most, Plaintiff has shown he is unable to 22 obtain contact information for a pro bono attorney or access the specific legal handbook he 23 desires—these are not adequate justifications for court-appointed counsel. 24 ORDER DENYING SECOND MOTION TO APPOINT COUNSEL - 2 1 Second, Plaintiff argues he does not understand legal rhetoric and has a limited 2 education, so he is unable to grasp the legal and factual issues involved in this case. Dkt. 11 at 1– 3 3. The Court disagrees. As explained in the Court’s Report and Recommendation, Plaintiff’s 4 Second Amended Complaint includes well-pled claims adequate for service. Dkt. 10 at 3–4. 5 And, as previously stated, “Plaintiff’s requests and legal arguments thus far have been clear and 6 understandable,” which demonstrate his ability to prosecute this case is not so lacking as to 7 require the appointment of counsel. Dkt. 9 at 2. 8 Plaintiff’s final two arguments are premature. He argues court-appointed counsel is 9 necessary because his case involves the complicated legal issue of supervisory liability and 10 because he has requested a trial by jury. Dkt. 11 at 3. Plaintiff is correct that complex legal issues 11 and jury trials may warrant the appointment of counsel in some instances. However, this case is 12 still at the very early stages of litigation, so it would be premature to address the propriety of 13 court-appointed counsel on these grounds. 14 15 16 17 In sum, the Court finds this case is not so complicated—nor is Plaintiff’s ability to articulate his claims so lacking—as to warrant appointment of counsel at this stage. III. CONCLUSION For the above reasons, the Court finds Plaintiff has not shown the exceptional 18 circumstances required for court-appointed counsel and his Second Motion to Appoint Counsel 19 (Dkt. 11) is DENIED without prejudice. 20 21 22 23 24 Dated this 26th day of March, 2024. A Grady J. Leupold United States Magistrate Judge ORDER DENYING SECOND MOTION TO APPOINT COUNSEL - 3

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