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Sanchez v. Miller

United States District Court, S.D. California

January 16, 2015

SERGIO SANCHEZ, CDCR #J-07661, Plaintiff,
v.
AMY MILLER, Warden; R. MADDEN, Chief Deputy Warden; M. GREENWOOD, Captain; N. TELLES, Correctional Lieutenant; O. MARTIN, Correctional Officer; DOES 1-5, Correctional Officers, Defendants.

ORDER: (1) GRANTING MOTION TO PROCEED IN FORMA PAUPERIS (Doc. No. 2) (2) DENYING MOTION TO APPOINT COUNSEL (Doc. No. 3) AND (3) DIRECTING U.S. MARSHAL TO EFFECT SERVICE OF SUMMONS AND COMPLAINT PURSUANT TO FED.R.CIV.P. 4(c)(3) AND 28 U.S.C. § 1915(d)

LARRY ALAN BURNS, District Judge.

Sergio Sanchez ("Plaintiff"), a state prisoner currently incarcerated at Centinela State Prison ("CEN") in Imperial, California, has filed a civil rights Complaint ("Compl.") pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (Doc. No. 1).

Plaintiff claims several CEN officials violated his First, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendment rights by filing disciplinary charges against him because he refused medical treatment on September 27, 2013. See Compl. at 3-5, ¶¶ 9-26. Plaintiff seeks declaratory relief, as well as compensatory and punitive damages, and he alleges to have exhausted "all available administrative remedies" before filing suit. Id. at 5-7, ¶¶ 27, 32-34.

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. See 28 U.S.C. § 1914(a).[1] An action may proceed despite the plaintiff's failure to prepay the entire fee only if he 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, a prisoner granted leave to proceed IFP remains obligated to pay the entire fee in "increments, " see Williams v. Paramo, ___ F.3d ___, 2015 WL 74144 at *1 (9th Cir. 2015), regardless of whether his action is ultimately dismissed. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(1) & (2); Taylor v. Delatoore, 281 F.3d 844, 847 (9th Cir. 2002).

Under 28 U.S.C. § 1915, as amended by the Prison Litigation Reform Act ("PLRA"), a prisoner seeking leave to proceed IFP must also submit a "certified copy of the trust fund account statement (or institutional equivalent) for... the six-month period immediately preceding the filing of the complaint." 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(2); Andrews v. King, 398 F.3d 1113, 1119 (9th Cir. 2005). From the certified trust account statement, the Court must assess 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); 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(4). 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 his account exceeds $10, and forward them to the Court until the entire filing fee is paid. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(2).

In support of his IFP Motion, Plaintiff has submitted a certified copy of his trust account statement pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(2) and S.D. CAL. CIVLR 3.2. Andrews, 398 F.3d at 1119. The Court has reviewed Plaintiff's trust account statement and has determined that Plaintiff has had no deposits to his account, and no available funds from which to pay any filing fees at this time. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(4) (providing that "[i]n no event shall a prisoner be prohibited from bringing a civil action or appealing a civil action or criminal judgment for the reason that the prisoner has no assets and no means by which to pay the initial partial filing fee."); Taylor, 281 F.3d at 850 (finding that 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(4) acts as a "safety-valve" preventing dismissal of a prisoner's IFP case based solely on a "failure to pay... due to the lack of funds available to him when payment is ordered.").

Therefore, the Court GRANTS Plaintiff's Motion to Proceed IFP (Doc. No. 2) and assesses no initial partial filing fee per 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(1). However, the entire $350 balance of the filing fees due must be collected and forwarded to the Clerk of the Court pursuant to the installment payment provisions set forth in 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(1).

II.

Motion for Appointment of Counsel

Plaintiff also requests appointment of counsel on grounds that he is indigent, incarcerated, has limited access to the law library and knowledge of the law, and because a "trial in the case will likely involve conflicting testimony and counsel would better enable [him] to present evidence and cross-examine witnesses." See Doc. No. 3 at 1.

Nonetheless, "[t]here 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). Federal courts do not have the authority "to make coercive appointments of counsel." Mallard v. United States ...


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