UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA
February 3, 2011
ERIC ANDREW O'DELL,
L.S. MCEWEN, WARDEN;
M. JIMENEZ, LIEUTENANT;
G. OPIE, SERGEANT;
D. GONZALEZ, FLOOR OFFICER; ET AL.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Marilyn L. Huff, District Judge United States District Court
ORDER: (1) DENYING MOTION TO APPOINT COUNSEL; AND (2) DENYING MOTION TO PROCEED IN FORMA PAUPERIS AND DISMISSING CASE WITHOUT PREJUDICE PURSUANT TO 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)
[Doc. Nos. 2, 3]
Plaintiff, an inmate currently incarcerated at Centinela State Prison in Imperial, California, and proceeding pro se, has filed a civil rights complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff alleges prison officials at Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility violated his constitutional rights while he was housed there in July of 2010. See Compl. at 1.
Plaintiff has not prepaid the $350 filing fee mandated by 28 U.S.C. § 1914(a); instead, he has filed a Motion to Proceed In Forma Pauperis ("IFP") pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a) [Doc. No. 2], along with a Motion to Appoint Counsel [Doc. No. 3].
I. MOTION TO PROCEED IFP
All parties instituting any civil action, suit or proceeding in a district court of the United States, except an application for writ of habeas corpus, must pay a filing fee of $350. See 28 U.S.C. § 1914(a). An action may proceed despite a party's failure to pay only if the party is granted leave to proceed in forma pauperis ("IFP") pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a). See Andrews v. Cervantes, 493 F.3d 1047, 1051 (9th Cir. 2007); Rodriguez v. Cook, 169 F.3d 1176, 1177 (9th Cir. 1999). "Under the PLRA [Prison Litigation Reform Act], all prisoners who file IFP civil actions must pay the full amount of the filing fee," regardless of whether the action is ultimately dismissed for any reason. See Taylor v. Delatoore, 281 F.3d 844, 847 (9th Cir. 2002) (citing 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(1) & (2)).
In order to comply with the PLRA, prisoners seeking leave to proceed IFP must also submit a "certified copy of the trust fund account statement (or institutional equivalent) for the prisoner for the 6-month period immediately preceding the filing of the complaint...." 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(2). From the certified trust account statement, the Court assesses an initial payment of 20% of (a) the average monthly deposits in the account for the past six months, or (b) the average monthly balance in the account for the past six months, whichever is greater, unless the prisoner has no assets. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(1), (4); see Taylor, 281 F.3d at 850. Thereafter, the institution having custody of the prisoner must collect subsequent payments, assessed at 20% of the preceding month's income, in any month in which the prisoner's account exceeds $10, and forward those payments to the Court until the entire filing fee is paid. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(2).
While Plaintiff has filed a Motion to Proceed IFP pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a), he has not attached a certified copy of his prison trust account statement for the 6-month period immediately preceding the filing of his Complaint. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(2); S.D. CAL. CIVLR 3.2. Section 1915(a)(2) clearly mandates that prisoners "seeking to bring a civil action ...without prepayment of fees ... shall submit a certified copy of the trust fund account statement (or institutional equivalent) ... for the 6-month period immediately preceding the filing of the complaint." 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(2) (emphasis added).
Without Plaintiff's trust account statement, the Court is simply unable to assess the appropriate amount of the filing fee which is statutorily required to initiate the prosecution of this action. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(1).
II. MOTION TO APPOINT COUNSEL
Plaintiff requests the appointment of counsel to assist him in prosecuting this civil action. The Constitution provides no right to appointment of counsel in a civil case, however, unless an indigent litigant may lose his physical liberty if he loses the litigation. Lassiter v. Dept. of Social Services, 452 U.S. 18, 25 (1981). Nonetheless, under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(1), district courts are granted discretion to appoint counsel for indigent persons. This discretion may be exercised only under "exceptional circumstances." Terrell v. Brewer, 935 F.2d 1015, 1017 (9th Cir. 1991). "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)).
The Court deniesPlaintiff's request without prejudice, as neither the interests of justice nor exceptional circumstances warrant appointment of counsel at this time. LaMere v. Risley, 827 F.2d 622, 626 (9th Cir. 1987); Terrell, 935 F.2d at 1017.
III. CONCLUSION AND ORDER
For the reasons set forth above, IT IS ORDERED that:
(1) Plaintiff's Motion to Appoint Counsel [Doc. No. 3] is DENIED without prejudice.
(2) Plaintiff's Motion to Proceed IFP [Doc. No. 2] is DENIED and the action is DISMISSED without prejudice for failure to prepay the $350 filing fee mandated by 28 U.S.C. § 1914(a).
(3) Plaintiff is GRANTED an additional forty five (45) days from the date this Order is Filed to either: (1) pay the entire $350 filing fee, or (2) file a new Motion to Proceed IFP, which includes a certified copy of his trust account statement for the 6-month period preceding the filing of his Complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(2) and S.D. CAL. CIVLR 3.2(b).
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the Clerk of the Court shall provide Plaintiff with a Court-approved form "Motion and Declaration in Support of Motion to Proceed IFP" in this matter. If Plaintiff neither pays the $350 filing fee in full nor sufficiently completes and files the attached Motion to Proceed IFP, together with a certified copy of his prison trust account statement within 45 days, this action shall remained closed without further Order of the Court.*fn1
IT IS SO ORDERED.