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McLean v. City of Paterson

December 18, 2007

RE: MCLEAN
v.
CITY OF PATERSON, ET AL



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

Honorable Patty Shwartz United States Magistrate Judge

U.S. Post Office & Courthouse Bldg. Federal Square, Newark, NJ 07101 (973) 645-6596

LETTER OPINION & ORDER

Dear Litigants:

The Court is in receipt of Kelvin Mclean's ("plaintiff") requests for appointment of pro bono counsel under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(1), dated November 16, 2007 and December 11, 2007. For the reasons set forth below, the plaintiff's request is denied.

BACKGROUND

On July 25, 2007, the plaintiff submitted a Complaint and an application to proceed in forma pauperis ["IFP"]. On August 29, 2007, the plaintiff's application to proceed IFP was granted and his Complaint was filed against all defendants except the Paterson Police Department. See Order, dated August 29, 2007.

In the Complaint, plaintiff alleges that on September 7, 2005, the defendants conducted a warrantless search of his person and his property, without having satisfied an exception to the warrant requirement, in violation of the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution and Article I of the New Jersey Constitution. See Compl. at ¶ 6. The plaintiff also alleges that the defendant officers initiated a malicious and vindictive prosecution in which the defendants committed perjury to establish probable cause for said warrantless search. Id. In addition, the plaintiff alleges various tort claims arising out of the defendants' conduct.*fn1 Id.

On November 16, 2007, plaintiff filed this application for the appointment of counsel. In his application, plaintiff argues that he is entitled to counsel because: (1) his claim has merit; (2) he is incarcerated; (3) he lacks the ability to present effectively the merits of his case owing to his lack of understanding of the complex legal issues involved; and (4) he is unable to afford or obtain counsel. See App. for Counsel, dated November 16, 2007, at ¶¶ 3 & 4. In his December 11, 2007 application, plaintiff repeats his arguments concerning his lack of legal knowledge and means to retain counsel. He also argues that he has received no help from the law library at Bayside State Prison. For counsel, dated November 11, 2007, 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). Nonetheless, Congress gives district courts broad discretion in determining whether to appoint counsel for indigent civil litigants. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915 (e)(1); Tabron v. Grace, 6 F.3d 147, 153 (3d Cir. 1993). When asked to consider such a request, the Court must first consider, "as a threshold matter, the merits of the plaintiff's claim." Tabron, 6 F.3d at 155. If the Court determines that the plaintiff's claim has arguable merit, then the Court should consider the following additional 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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