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Rideau v. Janda

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA


April 13, 2010

GREGORY SYLVESTER RIDEAU, JR., PLAINTIFF,
v.
G.J. JANDA, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Louisa S Porter United States Magistrate Judge

ORDER DENYING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR APPOINTMENT OF COUNSEL [Document No. 14] [Document No. 10]

This action is brought by Gregory Sylvester Rideau, a California state prisoner, proceeding in pro per and in forma pauperis on a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. On March 10, 2010, Plaintiff filed a motion to appoint counsel. (Doc. 10.) On April 7, 2010 (nunc pro tunc to April 1, 2010), plaintiff submitted an addendum to his request for appointment of counsel. (Doc. 14.) At this time the Court DENIES without prejudice Plaintiff's request for the reasons stated below.

"[T]here is no absolute right to counsel in civil proceedings." Hedges v. Resolution Trust Corp. (In re Hedges), 32 F.3d 1360, 1363 (9th Cir. 1994) (citation omitted). Thus, federal courts do not have the authority "to make coercive appointments of counsel." Mallard v. United States District Court, 490 U.S. 296, 310 (1989); see also United States v. $292,888.04 in U.S. Currency, 54 F.3d 564, 569 (9th Cir. 1995).

Districts courts have discretion, however, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(1), to "request" that an attorney represent indigent civil litigants upon a showing of exceptional circumstances. See Terrell v. Brewer, 935 F.2d 1015, 1017 (9th Cir. 1991); Burns v. County of King, 883 F.2d 819, 824 (9th Cir. 1989). "A finding of exceptional circumstances requires an evaluation of both the 'likelihood of success on the merits and the ability of the plaintiff to articulate his claims pro se in light of the complexity of the legal issues involved.' Neither of these issues is dispositive and both must be viewed together before reaching a decision.'" Id. (quoting Wilborn v. Escalderon, 789 F.2d 1328, 1331 (9th Cir. 1986)).

Here, Plaintiff asserts he "has a physical disability of 'carpal tunnel syndrome' in both wrist [sic] and tendonitis." (Doc. 10 at 2.) Plaintiff contends writing the documents required to litigate his case will exacerbate his disability. Id. To support his claim, plaintiff attached a statement from his physician stating plaintiff "has a minimal or borderline right carpal tunnel syndrome." (Doc. 10-1 at 4.) Plaintiff also attached a prison accommodation form signed by a physician which states plaintiff has a physical limitation to his job assignments and should have "no repetitive wrist movement." (Id. at 6.) Plaintiff does not claim that the legal issues are too complex or that he is unable to sufficiently grasp his case. The instant request for appointment of counsel is solely based on plaintiff's need for someone to write his legal documents due to his carpal tunnel syndrome.

Thus far, plaintiff has been able to submit all of the necessary documents for his case. While the Court recognizes that plaintiff has a hand injury, plaintiff has not demonstrated how the injury adversely affects his ability to prosecute this case. Accordingly, under the circumstances of this case, the Court finds that Plaintiff has not shown the "exceptional circumstances" required for appointment of counsel pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(1) and therefore DENIES without prejudice Plaintiff's Motion for Appointment of Counsel.

IT IS SO ORDERED.

20100413

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