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Salerno v. Corzine

January 29, 2007

RE: SALERNO
v.
CORZINE ET AL.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Patty Shwartz United States Magistrate Judge

LETTER OPINION

Dear Litigants:

The Court is in receipt of plaintiff Edward Salerno's request for appointment of pro bono counsel under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(1), filed January 3, 2007. For the reasons set forth below, the plaintiff's request is denied.

BACKGROUND

The plaintiff is currently confined at the Special Treatment Unit in Avenell, New Jersey. On August 1, 2006 plaintiff submitted a Complaint and an application to proceed in forma pauperis ["IFP"]. Pursuant to the December 20, 2006 Order, the plaintiff's request to proceed IFP was granted, his complaint was filed, and he was permitted to pursue his First Amendment claims against the following defendants: Ms. Lorna Hines-Cunningham, Assistant Division Director of DHS; Devon Brown, former Commissioner of the DOC; John Main, CEO of the STU Annex; Grace Rogers, Administrator at STU Annex; Paul Lagana, STU Annex; Merrill Main, Director at the STU Annex; Tina Spagnuolo, Unit Director at STU Annex; Dr. Gregory Gambone, psychologist; Jenna Caccese, former Program Director; Marielena Motta, Program Director; Ruth Roth, Recreation Supervisor; Lou Norton, Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor; Dr. Carol Lester, psychologist; Dr. Phillip Leavitt, psychologist; Dr. Kireev, psychologist; Dr. Tom Calabrese, psychologist; Dr. Eppellitto, psychologist at STU Kearny; Devon Bullard, social worker; Julie McBride; Mr. Reeves, social worker; Mr. Rodriguez, social worker; Mr. Thompson, social worker; Mr. J. Miles, BMPT; Dr. A. Levinson, psychologist. See Order, dated December 20, 2006, at 8.

On January 3, 2007, the plaintiff filed this application for the appointment of counsel. See Docket Entry No. 6. In his application, plaintiff argues that he is entitled to counsel because: (1) he cannot read or write; (2) he lacks the knowledge to proceed on his own; and (3) he cannot afford an attorney. See App. for Counsel at 3.

DISCUSSION

There is no constitutional or statutory right to appointed counsel for indigent civil litigants. Parham v. Johnson, 126 F.3d 454, 456-57 (3d Cir. 1997). District courts have broad discretion in determining whether the appointment of counsel is appropriate. 28 U.S.C. § 1915 (c)(1); Tabron v. Grace, 6 F.3d 147, 153 (3d Cir. 1993). In considering a request for appointment of counsel, the Court must first assess the threshold matter of "...whether the claimant's case has some arguable merit in fact and law." Montgomery v. Pinchak, 294 F.3d 492, 498-99 (3d Cir. 2002). If the applicant satisfies this threshold requirement, then the Court should consider the following factors:

(1) the plaintiff's ability to present his case;

(2) the difficulty of the particular legal issues;

(3) the degree to which factual investigations will be necessary and the ability of the plaintiff to pursue an investigation;

(4) the extent to which a case is likely to turn on credibility determinations;

(5) whether the case will require testimony from expert witnesses; and

(6) the plaintiff's capacity to retain counsel on ...


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