United States District Court, Eastern District of California
December 3, 2014
ROBERT EPPS, Plaintiff,
CSP SACRAMENTO, et al., Defendants.
ALLISON CLAIRE UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Plaintiff is a state prisoner proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis with a civil rights action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. On October 24, 2014, the court screened the complaint (ECF No. 8), and ordered plaintiff to submit service documents within 30 days. ECF No. 9. Plaintiff has instead filed a motion for appointment of counsel. The motion will be denied.
District courts may not require counsel to represent indigent prisoners in § 1983 cases. Mallard v. United States Dist. Court, 490 U.S. 296, 298 (1989). However, where willing counsel is available, the district court “may request an attorney to represent any person unable to afford counsel.” 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(1); Agyeman v. Corrections Corp. of America, 390 F.3d 1101, 1103 (9th Cir. 2004), cert. denied, 545 U.S. 1128 (2005).
The district court may appoint such counsel where “exceptional circumstances” exist. Palmer v. Valdez, 560 F.3d 965, 970 (9th Cir. 2009), cert. denied, 559 U.S. 906 (2010) (citing Agyeman, 390 F.3d at 1103). In determining whether or not exceptional circumstances exist, “a court must consider 'the likelihood of success on the merits as well as the ability of the petitioner to articulate his claims pro se in light of the complexity of the legal issues involved.'" Palmer, 560 F.3d at 970 (quoting Weygandt v. Look, 718 F.2d 952, 954 (9th Cir. 1983)). Circumstances common to most prisoners, such as lack of legal education and limited law library access, do not establish exceptional circumstances that would warrant a request for voluntary assistance of counsel. See, e.g.. Guess v. Lopez, 2014 WL 1883875 at *5 (E.D. Cal. 2014) (Claire, M.J.). The court does not find exceptional circumstances in this case, at this time.
Accordingly, IT IS HEREBY ORDERED as follows:
1. Plaintiffs motion for the appointment of counsel (ECF No. 15) is DENIED.
2. Within thirty days from the date of this order, plaintiff shall submit the documents specified in the court's October 24, 2014 order at page 5, ¶6.