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Hill v. Ptasenski

November 10, 2005

KEVIN HILL, PLAINTIFF,
v.
PTASENSKI, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hughes, U.S.M.J.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

This matter comes before the Court upon an unopposed Application filed by pro se Plaintiff, Kevin Hill ("Plaintiff"), on September 26, 2005, for Appointment of Counsel pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915 [Docket entry # 3]. The Court has reviewed Plaintiff's written submissions and considered the matter pursuant to FED. R. CIV. P. 78. For the reasons set forth below, Plaintiff's Application for Appointment of Counsel is denied.

I. BACKGROUND AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

Plaintiff is currently an inmate at East Jersey State Prison, located in Rahway, New Jersey. Defendants are State Correction Officers Ptasenski, Edwards and Fry, and prison administrators. On or about August 23, 2005, Plaintiff, proceeding pro se, filed a Complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 in the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey. Plaintiff alleges that State Corrections Officers paid inmate(s) at the prison to attack him and that the Officers then failed to stop the attack. (Pl['s] Compl.¶¶ 4, 6). Plaintiff further contends that the Officers were not properly trained to respond to an emergency situation, and that prison administrators failed to address Plaintiff's written concerns regarding the alleged incident. (Pl['s] App. ¶ 4, 5) Plaintiff also claims that he lost his left eye in the attack. (Pl['s] Compl.¶¶ 4, 6; Pl['s] App. ¶ 3). Plaintiff is seeking two million dollars in damages. (Pl['s] Compl.¶ 7).

According to the Complaint, Plaintiff specifically alleges that on August 22, 2003, "Officer Ptasenski paid a [sic] inmate to attack me in the yard." Id. at ¶ 6. Plaintiff further alleges that during the assault, he saw "Officer Edwards and Officer Fry stand at the yard door laughing and they also had other officers standing with them laughing." Id. Plaintiff alleges that about twenty to thirty minutes passed before the Officers broke up the attack. Id. Following the attack, Plaintiff alleges that he wrote to Administrator Hendricks and the Ombudsmen seeking a remedy for the attacks and received no response. Id. Plaintiff then alleges that he wrote to Commissioner Brown who told him to "send [his] problem to the administrator." Id.

By Court Order dated September 6, 2005, the District Court granted permission for Plaintiff to proceed in forma pauperis. In that order, the District Court also dismissed Adminsitrator Hendricks and Commissioner Brown from this action, finding that they had no personal involvement in the alleged incident.

In the present unopposed Application before the Court, Plaintiff argues that he is entitled to the appointment of pro bono counsel because he does not know "how to proceed without a lawyer." (Pl.['s] App. ¶ 3). Specifically, Plaintiff claims that he does not know anything about the law and does not have any money to afford an attorney. Id. at ¶¶ 3, 4.

II. DISCUSSION

Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(1), "[t]he court may request an attorney to represent any person unable to afford counsel." Montgomery v. Pinchak, 294 F.3d 492, 498 (3d Cir. 2002) (citing Parham v. Johnson, 126 F.3d 454, 456-57). "Indigent civil litigants possess neither a constitutional nor a statutory right to appointed counsel." Id. Nevertheless, the Third Circuit "has interpreted Section 1915 as affording district courts 'broad discretion' to determine whether appointment of counsel in a civil case would be appropriate." Id.

The criteria for when counsel should be appointed was first articulated by the Third Circuit in Tabron v. Grace, 6 F.3d 147, 155 (3d Cir. 1993). As a threshold matter, the Court must evaluate the merits of the plaintiff's claim. Id. If the Court determines that the claim does have "arguable merit in fact and law," then additional factors should be considered, including:

1. The plaintiff's ability to present his or her own case;

2. The difficulty of the particular legal issues;

3. The degree to which factual investigation will be necessary and the ability of the ...


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