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Hawkins v. United States


August 10, 2008


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Sandra M. Snyder United States Magistrate Judge


(Doc. 61.)

Charles Hawkins ("plaintiff") is a state prisoner proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis in this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. On May 20, 2008, plaintiff filed a motion for reconsideration of the court's denial of plaintiff motion for appointment of counsel. (Doc. 61.)


Motions to reconsider are committed to the discretion of the trial court. Combs v. Nick Garin Trucking, 825 F.2d 437, 441 (D.C.Cir. 1987); Rodgers v. Watt, 722 F.2d 456, 460 (9th Cir. 1983) (en banc). The Local Rules provide that when filing a motion for reconsideration, a party show that the "new or different facts or circumstances claimed to exist which did not exist or were not shown upon such prior motion, or what other grounds exist for the motion." Local Rule 78-230(k)(3).

On July 19, 2005, plaintiff filed a motion for appointment of counsel. (Doc. 32.) Plaintiff stated that counsel was needed because he is inexperienced in legal matters and was incarcerated in another state. On September 1, 2005, the court denied the motion. (Doc. 34.)

In support of reconsideration, plaintiff states that he has been transferred to another outof-state facility and remains incompetent in legal matters. Plaintiff states that he has relied to his detriment on assistance from other inmates who are unqualified in the law. Because of this reliance, plaintiff fears that his amended complaint was not filed in compliance with the court's order.

Although plaintiff recites some new facts, his situation has not materially changed, and the motion for reconsideration is not based on any new law not in existence at the time the motion for counsel was denied. Even if plaintiff lacks legal knowledge to properly litigate his case, the court cannot require counsel to represent plaintiff. Mallard v. United States District Court for the Southern District of Iowa, 490 U.S. 296 (1989). In certain exceptional circumstances, the court may request the voluntary assistance of counsel pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(1). In determining whether "exceptional circumstances exist, the district court must evaluate both the likelihood of success of the merits [and] the ability of the [plaintiff] to articulate his claims pro se in light of the complexity of the legal issues involved." Id. (internal quotation marks and citations omitted).

In the present case, the court does not find the required exceptional circumstances. Plaintiff's justification for the need for counsel is identical to that of most incarcerated inmates filing civil rights actions in federal courts across the country. The court simply does not have the financial resources to compensate counsel in every case wherein the plaintiff is inexperienced in the law. Even if it is assumed that plaintiff is not well versed in the law and that he has made serious allegations which, if proved, would entitle him to relief, his case is not exceptional. This court is faced with similar cases almost daily. Moreover, the court has yet to screen plaintiff's third amended complaint, and until the screening is completed, the court cannot make a determination that plaintiff is likely to succeed on the merits or that he is unable to articulate his claims. Id.

In accordance with the above, it is HEREBY ORDERED that plaintiff's motion for reconsideration of the court's denial of the motion for the appointment of counsel, filed May 20, 2008, is DENIED.



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