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Thompson v. Union County Division of Social Services

July 28, 2008

RE: CALVIN THOMPSON
v.
UNION COUNTY DIVISION OF SOCIAL SERVICES, 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 plaintiff Calvin Thompson's request for appointment of pro bono counsel pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(1), filed on July 18, 2008. For the reasons set forth below, the plaintiff's request is denied.

BACKGROUND

On October 11, 2007, the plaintiff filed a Complaint alleging that the defendants discriminated against him on the basis of his race by denying him access to emergency assistance shelter, misrepresenting to him his eligibility for welfare benefits, filing false eligibility reports and placing them in plaintiff's file, and conspiring against him to terminate his benefits and interfere with his right to seek redress for the allegedly discriminatory conduct. See Compl. 10-19. Based on these allegations, the plaintiff asserts claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983-1986, the United States Constitution, the New Jersey Constitution, and New Jersey statutory and common law.

On July 18, 2008, the plaintiff filed this Application for Pro Bono Counsel. In his application, the plaintiff argues that he is entitled to appointed counsel because: (1) his case has a substantial degree of merit; (2) he "need[s] legal assistance in navigating the court system, expeditiously complying with Federal Procedure, conducting investigations and depositions, providing copies of documents to the Court and opposing counsel and presenting an effective case to a jury for the trial if necessary"; and (3) he is unable to afford a private attorney because he is indigent. App. for Counsel, dated July 18, 2008 ("App. for Counsel") 2.

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, and must assess each application on a case by case basis. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(d); Tabron v. Grace, 6 F.3d 147, 157-58 (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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