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Ramon Murillo v. P. Flournoy

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA


April 3, 2012

RAMON MURILLO,
PLAINTIFF,
v.
P. FLOURNOY;
T GOFF;
VILLAROMAN; DENNIS MORRIS;
CHARLES MARSH;
D/ PARAMO; DOES 1-5;, DEFENDANTS.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hon. Bernard G. Skomal U.S. Magistrate Judge United States District Court

ORDER DENYING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION TO APPOINT COUNSEL [Doc. No. 19]

On March 16, 2012, Plaintiff Ramon Murillo, a prisoner proceeding pro se and In Forma Pauperis ("IFP") in this civil rights action, filed a motion to appoint counsel. (Doc. No. 19.)

Plaintiff requests appointment of counsel for the following reasons: (1) he is proceeding IFP; (2) he is confined to administrative segregation, therefore, his access to the law library is limited; (3) he is a mental health patient; (4) he is not equipped to conduct discovery; (5) he is not sufficiently trained in legal matters; (6) the case involves Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation employees; and (7) the case is complex. (Doc. No. 19.)

"There is no constitutional right to appointed counsel in a § 1983 action." Rand v. Rowland, 113 F.3d 1520, 1525 (9th Cir. 1997) (citing Storseth v. Spellman, 654 F.2d 1349, 1353 (9th Cir. 1981)); see also Hedges v. Resolution Trust Corp. (In re Hedges), 32 F.3d 1360, 1363 (9th Cir. 1994) ("[T]here is no absolute right to counsel in civil proceedings.") (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 Agyeman v. Corrections Corp. of America, 390 F.3d 1101, 1103 (9th Cir. 2004); Rand, 113 F.3d at 1525. "A finding of the exceptional circumstances of the plaintiff seeking assistance requires at least an evaluation of the likelihood of the plaintiff's success on the merits and an evaluation of the plaintiff's ability to articulate his claims 'in light of the complexity of the legal issues involved.'" Agyeman, 390 F.3d at 1103 (quoting Wilborn v. Escalderon, 789 F.2d 1328, 1331 (9th Cir. 1986)); see also Terrell v. Brewer, 935 F.2d 1015, 1017 (9th Cir. 1991).

The Court denies Plaintiff'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. Plaintiff has thus far been able to articulate his claims, as the Court found that Plaintiff's complaint contains allegations sufficient to survive the sua sponte screening required by 28 U.S.C. §§1915(e)(2) and 1915A(b). (See Doc. No. 8 at 3.)

Furthermore, it does not appear that the legal issues involved are so complex that counsel is warranted at this stage of the proceedings. See Wilborn v. Escalderon, 789 F.3d 1328, 1331 (9th Cir. 1986) (noting that, "If all that was required to establish successfully the complexity of the relevant issues was a demonstration of the need for development of further facts, practically all cases would involve complex legal issues.").

IT IS SO ORDERED.

20120403

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