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Johnson v. Prospo

February 4, 2009

RE:WILLIAM JOHNSON
v.
DE PROSPO, 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 William Johnson's request for appointment of pro bono counsel pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(1), filed on April 14, 2008. For the reasons set forth below, the plaintiff's request is denied.

BACKGROUND

On April 14, 2008, the plaintiff filed a Complaint alleging that defendants deprived him of his constitutional rights at the time of and after his arrest. Specifically, plaintiff alleges that defendants beat him with their asps, fists, and boots. See Compl. 4. Plaintiff further alleges that defendants failed to administer Miranda warnings and failed to advise plaintiff of his arrest or the allegations against him. The Complaint also states that defendants planted contraband on plaintiff, falsified police reports, and maliciously initiated a criminal prosecution against him. See Compl. 4-8. As a result of defendants' actions, plaintiff claims he suffered profuse bleeding, physical injuries, hospitalization, severe and permanent scars, humiliation, pain and suffering, mental anguish, emotional distress, psychological harm, costs of legal fees and medical bills, flashbacks, sleeplessness, loss of time, and loss of trust in government. See Compl. 4, 10-11. Plaintiff alleges that defendants' actions violated his Fourth, Fifth, and Eighth Amendment rights, and asserts claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, 42 U.S.C. § 1985, and 42 U.S.C. § 1986. See Compl. 5-6. Additionally, plaintiff asserts state common law claims of conspiracy, excessive force, assault, battery, police brutality, false arrest, false imprisonment, malicious prosecution, misuse of legal procedures, willful misconduct, official misconduct, false swearing, perjury, extreme outrage, gross negligence, willful blindness, negligent training and supervision, and intentional infliction of emotional distress arising from defendants' actions. See Compl. 6, 8-9.

On December 8, 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) he does not feel he is able to argue his case against the defendants' attorneys; (2) his "skills in presenting the facts [are] limited"; (3) his case is complex; and (4) he needs someone who understands legal terminology and can effectively advocate on his behalf. App. for Counsel, dated November 29, 2008 ("App. for Counsel") 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, 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 ...


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