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Thrower v. New Jersey Dep't of Corrections

November 7, 2007

RE: CURTIS THROWER
v.
NEW JERSEY DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS, ET AL.



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

LETTER OPINION & ORDER

Curtis Thrower, pro se #509130 405638B East Jersey State Prison Lock Bag R Rahway, NJ 07065

Dear Litigants:

The Court is in receipt of plaintiff Curtis Thrower's request for appointment of pro bono counsel under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(1), filed October 4, 2007. For the reasons set forth below, the plaintiff's request is denied.

BACKGROUND

On July 23, 2007, plaintiff submitted a Complaint with an application to proceed in forma pauperis ("IFP"). Plaintiff alleged that defendants violated his rights under the First, Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments. See Compl. at ¶ 4. Specifically, he asserted that he was subjected to cruel and unusual punishment when he was committed to segregated confinement in a psychiatric facility and forced to take medications against his will. Id. Plaintiff alleges he was unable to submit a urine sample because his medications caused urine retention, see Opinion dated September 6, 2007, and prison officials interpreted his inability to produce a urine sample as a refusal to submit to testing, which resulted in him being charged with a violation of the prison rules and resulted in ninety days of segregated confinement. Id. at 2. The Complaint further alleges that after learning of the upcoming confinement, plaintiff's fear and depression caused him to stop eating, sleeping and taking his medications. Id. at 3. Prison officials considered his actions potentially suicidal and transferred him for five days to a psychiatric facility in a "cold cell . . . with nothing, no clothes, bedding, soap, or anything." Id. Subsequently, he was returned to his original place of confinement and resumed taking medications under threat that refusal would result in denial of early release. Id.

On September 6, 2007, Judge Hochberg dismissed the plaintiff's Fourteenth Amendment and First Amendment claims, as well as Plaintiff's Eighth Amendment claims based on Plaintiff's confinement at a psychiatric facility and current conditions of confinement for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted. Id. at 20. Judge Hochberg ordered that only plaintiff's Eighth Amendment claim based on involuntary consumption of medication could proceed and granted plaintiff's application to file such a claim without paying the filing fee. Id. at 1 and 21.

On October 4, 2007 plaintiff submitted an application for appointment of pro bono counsel. The plaintiff asserts that he needs a lawyer appointed to represent him because: (1) he has very limited legal knowledge; (2) the issues are complex and require the expertise of professional counsel; (3) factual investigation would be required that he would not be able to pursue; (4 ) expert testimony will likely be required; (5) he is unfamiliar with the rules of evidence and discovery; (6) there are multiple defendants; and (7) he is indigent.

DISCUSSION

In considering an application for appointment of pro bono counsel, the Court must first determine if the plaintiff's claim has some "merit in fact and law," Montgomery v. Pinchak, 24 F.3d 492, 499 (3d Cir. 2002). If the claim meets this threshold requirement, then the Court is next obligated to consider the following non-exhaustive list of 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 ...


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