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Leggon-Redding v. Congress Title

June 20, 2007

E. LIGGON-REDDING, PLAINTIFF,
v.
CONGRESS TITLE, ET. AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Joel Schneider United States Magistrate Judge

[Doc. No. 4]

OPINION AND ORDER

This matter is before the Court upon the Motion for Appointment of Pro Bono Counsel [Doc. No. 4] filed by pro se Plaintiff, E. Liggon-Redding. Plaintiff argues that she receives disability payments and cannot afford an attorney. Plaintiff further argues that she needs the help of counsel in order pursue her claims in this case. (See Plaintiff's Complaint [Doc. No. 1], at ¶18). Plaintiff filed her Complaint on April 20, 2007. She alleges that Defendants, Congress Title and Key Properties GMAC Realty, through their employees, violated 18 U.S.C. §1961-1968 by fraudulently forcing Plaintiff's husband to sell their home and permitting her husband to sell their home despite the fact that she held an ownership interest in the property.*fn1 Defendants have not filed responses to Plaintiff's Complaint and have not filed opposition to Plaintiff's Motion.

Plaintiff seeks appointment of legal counsel pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §1915(e). The court may, pursuant to §1915(e), request an attorney to represent an indigent plaintiff in a civil action. The statute provides in relevant part that:

(1) [t]he court may request an attorney to represent any person unable to afford counsel. (2) Notwithstanding any filing fee, or any portion thereof, that may have been paid, the court shall dismiss the case at any time if the court determines that-(A) the allegation of poverty is untrue; or (B) the action or appeal-(i) is frivolous or malicious; (ii) fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted; or (iii) seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such relief.

§1915(e) (emphasis added). However, the appointment of counsel under §1915(e) is a privilege, not a statutory or constitutional right of the litigant. Romano v. Brown, Civil No. 04-4346(FLW), 2006 WL 2376913 at *4 (D.N.J. 2006) (citing Purnell v. Lopez, 903 F.Supp. 863, 864 (E.D.Pa. 1995)). Moreover, a court's power to appoint counsel pursuant to §1915(e) lies in the sole discretion of the court. Parham v. Johnson, 126 F.3d 454, 457 (3d Cir. 1997). See also Tabron v. Grace, 6 F.3d 147, 155 (3d Cir. 1993), cert. denied, 510 U.S. 1196 (1994). As a preliminary matter, the court is required to determine whether the claim has "some merit in fact and law." Parham, 126 F.3d at 457.

If the court finds the action is not frivolous and has merit, then several factors are taken into consideration:

(1) plaintiff's ability to present his or her own case;

(2) the complexity of the legal issues;

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

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

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

(6) whether the plaintiff can attain and afford counsel on his or her own behalf.

Tabron, 6 F.3d at 156-157. This list is not exhaustive, nor is any one factor determinative. Id. at 157. See also Montgomery v. Pinchak, 294 F.3d 492, 499 (3d Cir. 2002); Parham, 126 F.3d 454 (3d Cir. 1997); Hamilton v. Leavy, 117 F.3d 742, 749 (3d Cir. 1997); Christy v. Robinson, 216 F.Supp.2d 398, 409 (D.N.J. 2002). These factors ensure that courts will only appoint counsel in non-frivolous matters. Parham, 126 F.3d at 461. Courts will only consider appointment of ...


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