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Faulkner v. Manischewitz Co.

United States District Court, D. New Jersey

July 5, 2017

Robert Faulkner
v.
Manischewitz Co., et al.

          LETTER OPINION AND ORDER

          MICHAEL A. HAMMER UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         Dear Litigants:

Presently before the Court is Plaintiff pro se Robert Faulkner's motion for appointment of pro bono counsel pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(1) [D.E. 2]. For the reasons set forth below, Plaintiff's motion is denied.

         Background

         Plaintiff alleges that Defendants unlawfully terminated his employment and violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. Complaint, March 24, 2017, D.E. 1. Specifically, Plaintiff alleges that after being incarcerated on March 15, 2016 for a charge that was later dismissed, he was suspended on March 24, 2016. Id. On April 4, 2016 Defendants terminated Plaintiff. Id. Plaintiff alleges that he was unlawfully terminated based on his race. Id. Defendants contend that Plaintiff was terminated because he had been incarcerated for domestic violence and they have an obligation to provide a safe and harassment free work environment to all of their employees. Id. Defendants contend that they gave Plaintiff one week to bring in acquittal documentation for the domestic violence charge but Plaintiff never returned. Id. Plaintiff seeks $25, 368 in actual damages due to alleged lost wages, as well as for pain and suffering. Id.

         On March 27, 2017, Plaintiff filed this motion for pro bono counsel [D.E. 2]. In his motion, Plaintiff argues that he is entitled to appointed counsel because: (1) he cannot afford to hire an attorney on his own; (2) the legal issues alleged are too complex for him to understand; and (3) he lacks the knowledge of the Rules of Evidence that is required for such a complex legal issue. See Motion to Appoint Pro Bono, March 27, 2017, D.E. 2.

         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, a court considers the framework established in Tabron. 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 ...

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