United States District Court, D. New Jersey
D.E. 27, Informal Motion to Appoint Pro Bono Counsel Corey Pearson, Jr.
Dr. Flora Defilippo, et al.
C. MANNION UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
matter comes before the Court upon review of Plaintiff Mr.
Corey Pearson's (“Mr. Pearson”) informal
Motion to Appoint Pro Bono Counsel. The Court has
reviewed Mr. Pearson's Motion and for the reasons set
forth herein it is denied.
courts are granted broad discretion to appoint attorneys to
represent indigent civil litigants,  but civil litigants possess
neither a constitutional nor a statutory right to appointed
counsel. Moreover, though Congress has empowered
district courts to “request” counsel for civil
litigants, courts cannot “require” an unwilling
attorney to serve as counsel.
Court must therefore “take note of the significant
practical restraints on the district courts' ability to
appoint counsel: . . . the lack of funding to pay appointed
counsel; and the limited supply of competent lawyers who are
willing to undertake such representation without
evaluating a request for the appointment of pro bono
counsel, a district court should first determine whether the
plaintiff's claim “has arguable merit in fact and
law.” The Third Circuit has articulated an
analytical framework that district courts must use in
exercising their discretion. The analysis begins with a
threshold assessment of the merits of the case.
court first finds “some arguable merit in fact and law,
” then it must go on to weigh a series of
considerations known as the Tabron post-threshold
factors. These factors include: (1) the
plaintiff's ability to present his case; (2) the
complexity of the legal issues involved; (3) the extent of
factual discovery and the plaintiff's ability to
investigate and to comply with complex discovery rules; (4)
the extent to which the case may turn on credibility
determinations; (5) whether expert testimony will be
required; and (6) whether the plaintiff can afford counsel on
his or her own behalf.
purpose of evaluating these threshold factors, the Court
assumes “solely for the purpose of this
Application” that Mr. Pearson's case has
“some arguable merit in fact and
law.”The Court, however, need not undertake a
detailed analysis of this point because application of the
Tabron post-threshold factors overall weighs against
appointment of pro bono counsel at this time.
Mr. Pearson's Ability to Present His Case
first factor has been identified as “perhaps the most
significant.” For this factor the Court considers Mr.
Pearson's “education, literacy, prior work
experience, and prior litigation
experience....” As additional guidance, the Third
Circuit has noted that courts should consider Mr.
Pearson's ability to present his case “[i]n
conjunction with . . . the difficulty of the particular legal
Pearson does not address this factor in his Motion, so the
Court is unfamiliar with his educational history and prior
work or litigation experience. However, his numerous filings
with the Court thus far reflect literacy and a general
understanding of the litigation process. Additionally, In his
many letters to the court Mr. Pearson cites various statutes
and case law, and without the aid of counsel, Mr. Pearson has
successfully filed his application to proceed in forma
pauperis as well as motions requesting pro bono
counsel. Therefore, the first Tabron factor weighs
The Legal Complexity of the Case
second Tabron factor concerns the complexity of the
particular legal issues. Again, Mr. Pearson's short
argument in support of his Motion does not address this
second Tabron factor. However, in looking to Mr.
Pearson's Complaint, the Court finds that Mr.
Pearson's factual claims are easy to understand and the
legal issues involved are relatively straightforward. Thus,
the second Tabron factor also weighs against
The Degree to Which Factual Investigation ...