The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hon. Dana M. Sabraw United States District Judge
ORDER: (1) GRANTING MOTION TO PROCEED IN FORMA PAUPERIS (ECF No. 2); (2) DENYING MOTION FOR APPOINTMENT OF COUNSEL (ECF No. 3); AND (3) DISMISSING CIVIL ACTION AS FRIVOLOUS PURSUANT TO 28 U.S.C.§ 1915(e)(2)(B)(1)
Taek Sang Yoon ("Plaintiff"), a former state prisoner, now detained at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Immigration and Customs Enforcement Processing Center in El Centro, California, has filed a civil action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983.
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) (ECF No. 2), as well as a Motion for Appointment of Counsel (ECF No. 3).
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 plaintiff's failure to prepay the entire fee only if the plaintiff is granted leave to proceed IFP pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a). See Rodriguez v. Cook, 169 F.3d 1176, 1177 (9th Cir. 1999). However, "[u]nlike other indigent litigants, prisoners proceeding IFP must pay the full amount of filing fees in civil actions and appeals pursuant to the PLRA [Prison Litigation Reform Act]." Agyeman v. INS, 296 F.3d 871, 886 (9th Cir. 2002). As defined by the PLRA, a "prisoner" is "any person incarcerated or detained in any facility who is accused of, convicted of, sentenced for, or adjudicated delinquent for, violations of criminal law or the terms and conditions of parole, probation, pretrial release, or diversionary program." 28 U.S.C. § 1915(h). A "civil detainee" on the other hand, is not a "prisoner" within the meaning of the PLRA. Andrews v. King, 398 F.3d 1113, 1122 (9th Cir 2005); Agyeman, 296 F.3d at 886 (holding that INS detainee not also facing criminal charges is not a "prisoner" under § 1915); see also Page v. Torrey, 201 F.3d 1136, 1140 (9th Cir. 2000) (person confined under California's Sexually Violent Predator Law, while a "a 'prisoner' within the meaning of the PLRA when he served time for his conviction, ... ceased being a 'prisoner' when he was released from the custody of the Department of Corrections.")
Thus, because Plaintiff was not a "prisoner" as defined by 28 U.S.C. § 1915(h) when he filed this action, neither the filing fee provisions of 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b), nor the "3-strikes" bar in 28 U.S.C. § 1915(g) apply to this case.*fn1 Andrews, 398 F.3d at 1122.
Accordingly, the Court has reviewed Plaintiff's affidavit of assets, just as it would for any other non-prisoner litigant seeking IFP status, and finds it is sufficient to show that he is unable to pay the fees or post securities required to maintain this action. See S.D. CAL. CIVLR 3.2(d).
Accordingly, the Court GRANTS Plaintiff's Motion to Proceed IFP pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a) (ECF No. 2).
II. Motion for Appointment of Counsel
Plaintiff also requests the appointment of counsel to assist him in prosecuting this civil action (ECF No. 3). 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 in this case however, because it finds, for the reasons set out below, that neither the interests of justice nor exceptional circumstances warrant appointment of counsel in this matter. LaMere v. Risley, 827 F.2d 622, 626 (9th Cir. 1987); Terrell, 935 F.2d at 1017.
III. Sua Sponte Screening pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)
Any complaint filed by a person proceeding IFP is subject to sua sponte dismissal to the extent it contains claims which are "frivolous, malicious, fail to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or seek monetary relief from a defendant immune from such relief." 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B); Calhoun v. Stahl, 254 F.3d 845, 845 (9th Cir. 2001) (per curiam) (holding that "the provisions of 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B) are not limited to prisoners."); Lopez v. Smith, 203 Cal. Civil Case No. 06cv2460 W (LSP) (ECF Nos. 9, 17, 24). F.3d 1122, 1127 (9th Cir. 2000) (en banc) ("[S]section 1915(e) not only permits, but requires a district court to dismiss an in forma pauperis complaint that fails to state a claim.").
"[W]hen determining whether a complaint states a claim, a court must accept as true all allegations of material fact and must construe those facts in the light most favorable to the plaintiff." Resnick v. Hayes, 213 F.3d 443, 447 (9th Cir. 2000); see also Barren v. Harrington, 152 F.3d 1193, 1194 (9th Cir. 1998) (§ ...