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Abulkhair v. United States Postal Service

United States District Court, D. New Jersey

April 22, 2014

Abulkhair,
v.
United States Postal Service, et al.

LETTER OPINION & ORDER

MICHAEL A. HAMMER, Magistrate Judge.

Dear Litigants:

Presently before the Court is Plaintiff's December 17, 2013 application for pro bono counsel under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(1). For the reasons set forth below, Plaintiff's request is denied.

Background

On December 23, 2013, Plaintiff filed a complaint against the United States Postal Service and the United States of America (collectively "Defendants"). Compl. Dec. 23, 2013, ECF No. 1. Plaintiff contends that beginning in early 2002 his incoming and outgoing mail was tampered with by Defendants because of his religion and ethnicity, as he is a Moslem man of Middle Eastern descent. Compl. ¶ 18, ECF No. 1. Specifically, Plaintiff asserts claims for invasion of privacy, negligence, negligent supervision, negligence per se, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and negligent infliction of emotional distress. See Compl., ECF No.1. Plaintiff filed an application to proceed in forma pauperis on December 23, 2013, which is still pending. See IFP Appl. Dec. 23, 2013, ECF No. 1-1. On the same date, Plaintiff filed this application for appointment of pro bono counsel. Appl. for Pro Bono Counsel, Dec. 23, 2013, ECF No. 2. On April 14, 2014, the Court granted Plaintiff's application to proceed in forma pauperis. ECF No. 7.

Discussion

In civil cases, neither the Constitution nor any statute gives civil litigants the right to appointed counsel. Parham v. Johnson , 126 F.3d 454, 456-57 (3d Cir. 1997). District courts, however, have broad discretion to determine whether appointment of counsel is appropriate under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e). Montgomery v. Pinchack , 294 F.3d 492, 498 (3d Cir. 2002) (citing Tabron v. Grace , 6 F.3d 147, 153 (3d Cir. 1993)). Appointment of counsel may be made at any point in the litigation, including sua sponte by the Court. Montgomery , 294 F.3d at 498 (citing Tabron , 6 F.3d at 156).

In the Third Circuit, the Court considers the framework established in Tabron v. Grace. Montgomery , 294 F.3d at 498-99. Under the Tabron framework, the Court must first assess "whether the claimant's case has some arguable merit in fact and law." Montgomery , 294 F.3d at 499 (citing Tabron 6 F.3d at 155.) If the applicant's claim has some merit, the Court considers the following factors:

(1) the plaintiff's ability to present his or her own case;
(2) the complexity of the legal issues;
(3) the degree to which factual investigation will be necessary and the ability of the plaintiff to pursue such investigation;
(4) the amount a case is likely to turn on credibility determinations;
(5) whether the case will require the testimony of expert witnesses;
(6) whether the plaintiff can attain and afford counsel on ...

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