UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT EASTERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA
August 23, 2011
CALIFORNIA DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Gary S. Austin United States Magistrate Judge
ORDER DENYING MOTION FOR CERTIFICATION AS CLASS ACTION AND MOTION FOR APPOINTMENT OF COUNSEL (Doc. 3.)
Kenneth Royster ("Plaintiff") is a state prisoner proceeding pro se with this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff filed the Complaint commencing this action on July 13, 2011, together with a motion for certification of this litigation as a class action, and a motion for appointment of counsel. (Docs. 1, 3.)
I. MOTION FOR CERTIFICATION AS CLASS ACTION
Plaintiff is a non-lawyer proceeding without counsel. It is well established that a layperson cannot ordinarily represent the interests of a class. See McShane v. United States, 366 F.2d 286 (9th Cir. 1966). This rule becomes almost absolute when, as here, the putative class representative is incarcerated and proceeding pro se. Oxendine v. Williams, 509 F.2d 1405, 1407 (4th Cir. 1975). In direct terms, plaintiff cannot "fairly and adequately protect the interests of the class" as required by Fed. R. Civ. P. 23(a)(4). See Martin v. Middendorf, 420 F. Supp. 779 (D.D.C. 1976). This action, therefore, will not be construed as a class action and instead will be construed as an individual civil suit brought by Plaintiff.
II. MOTION FOR APPOINTMENT OF COUNSEL
Plaintiff does not have a constitutional right to appointed counsel in this action, Rand v. Rowland, 113 F.3d 1520, 1525 (9th Cir. 1997), and the court cannot require an attorney to represent Plaintiff pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(1). Mallard v. United States District Court for the Southern District of Iowa, 490 U.S. 296, 298, 109 S.Ct. 1814, 1816 (1989). However, in certain exceptional circumstances the court may request the voluntary assistance of counsel pursuant to section 1915(e)(1). Rand, 113 F.3d at 1525.
Without a reasonable method of securing and compensating counsel, the court will seek volunteer counsel only in the most serious and exceptional cases. 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. 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. Further, at this early stage in the proceedings, the Court cannot make a determination that Plaintiff is likely to succeed on the merits, and based on a review of the record in this case, the Court does not find that Plaintiff cannot adequately articulate his claims. Id.
For the foregoing reasons, IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that:
1. Plaintiff's motion for certification of this litigation as a class action is DENIED; and
2. Plaintiff's motion for the appointment of counsel is DENIED, without prejudice.
IT IS SO ORDERED.
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