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Crooks v. Passaic County Sheriff's Dept./Jail

July 23, 2007

RE: CROOKS
v.
PASSAIC COUNTY SHERIFF'S DEPT./JAIL



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

LETTER OPINION AND ORDER

Dear Litigants:

The Court is in receipt of plaintiff Dalton Crooks' request for appointment of pro bono counsel under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(1), filed June 29, 2007. For the reasons set forth below, the plaintiff's request is denied.

BACKGROUND

On August 8, 2006, plaintiff filed a Complaint alleging a violation of his civil rights and an application to proceed in forma pauperis ["IFP"]. On March 27, 2007, the Honorable Faith S. Hochberg dismissed the plaintiff's Complaint without prejudice. See Order dated March 27, 2007. On May 3, 2007, the plaintiff filed an Amended Complaint and, based on this filing, Judge Hochberg reopened the case and granted IFP. See Order dated May 22, 2007. In his Amended Complaint, the plaintiff alleges that between February 15, 2006 and approximately June 15, 2006 the defendants violated his civil rights when they refused to provide accommodation and treatment for an injury to his hand that he suffered before being incarcerated. See Compl. at ¶ 6. The plaintiff claims that he told the defendants that his hand injury that occurred before his arrest made him physically unable to climb onto or stabilize himself on his upper bunk bed, but the defendants ignored his multiple request for a lower bunk bed. Id. The plaintiff further alleges that on June 8, 2006, he fell from his upper bunk bed and separated his right shoulder, and that had the defendants accommodated his original injury, he would not have suffered the second injury. Id. Finally, the plaintiff claims that the defendants further violated his civil rights when they again refused to accommodate his injury by providing a lower bunk bed. Id.

On June 29, 2007, the plaintiff filed this application for the appointment of counsel. See Docket Entry No. 9. In his application, plaintiff argues that he is entitled to counsel because: (1) he lacks the ability to represent himself and is unfamiliar with the law and Court rules; and (2) he is unable to retain and afford counsel due to his incarceration. See App. for Counsel at 3-4.

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 ...


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