United States District Court, E.D. California
CAROLYN K. DELANEY UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
a state prisoner proceeding pro se, seeks relief pursuant to
42 U.S.C. § 1983 and has requested leave to proceed in
forma pauperis pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915 and
appointment of counsel.
Application to Proceed In Forma Pauperis
has submitted a declaration that makes the showing required
by 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a). (ECF No. 2.) Accordingly, the
request to proceed in forma pauperis will be granted.
is required to pay the statutory filing fee of $350.00 for
this action. 28 U.S.C. §§ 1914(a), 1915(b)(1). By
this order, plaintiff will be assessed an initial partial
filing fee in accordance with the provisions of 28 U.S.C.
§ 1915(b)(1). By separate order, the court will direct
the appropriate agency to collect the initial partial filing
fee from plaintiff's trust account and forward it to the
Clerk of the Court. Thereafter, plaintiff will be obligated
for monthly payments of twenty percent of the preceding
month's income credited to plaintiff's prison trust
account. These payments will be forwarded by the appropriate
agency to the Clerk of the Court each time the amount in
plaintiff's account exceeds $10.00, until the filing fee
is paid in full. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(2).
Motion for Appointment of Counsel
United States Supreme Court has ruled that district courts
lack authority to require counsel to represent indigent
prisoners in § 1983 cases. Mallard v. United States
Dist. Court, 490 U.S. 296, 298 (1989). In certain
exceptional circumstances, the district court may request the
voluntary assistance of counsel pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
1915(e)(1). Terrell v. Brewer, 935 F.2d 1015, 1017
(9th Cir. 1991); Wood v. Housewright, 900 F.2d 1332,
1335-36 (9th Cir. 1990).
determining whether ‘exceptional circumstances'
exist, a court must consider ‘the likelihood of success
on the merits as well as the ability of the [plaintiff] to
articulate his claims pro se in light of the
complexity of the legal issues involved.'”
Palmer v. Valdez, 560 F.3d 965, 970 (9th Cir. 2009)
(quoting Weygandt v. Look, 718 F.2d 952, 954 (9th
Cir. 1983)). The burden of demonstrating exceptional
circumstances is on the plaintiff. Id. 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.
has requested the appointment of counsel on the grounds that
he is indigent, the case is complex, he has limited access to
the law library and limited legal knowledge, counsel will be
better able to represent him at trial, and he has been unable
to find counsel to represent him. (ECF No. 3.) The
circumstances alleged by plaintiff are commonly experienced
by inmates and do not constitute the extraordinary
circumstances necessary to warrant the appointment of
counsel. To the extent plaintiff raises the need for counsel
at trial, the request is premature, as it has not yet been
determined whether this case will proceed to trial.
Furthermore, at this stage it appears that plaintiff is
capable of articulating his claims without the assistance of
counsel. Accordingly, the request for counsel will be denied.
Statutory Screening of Prisoner Complaints
court is required to screen complaints brought by prisoners
seeking relief against a governmental entity or officer or
employee of a governmental entity. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a).
The court must dismiss a complaint or portion thereof if the
prisoner has raised claims that are “frivolous,
malicious, or fail to state a claim upon which relief may
be granted, ” or that “seek monetary relief
from a defendant who is immune from such relief.” 28
U.S.C. § 1915A(b).
“is [legally] frivolous where it lacks an arguable
basis either in law or in fact.” Neitzke v.
Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 325 (1989); Franklin v.
Murphy, 745 F.2d 1221, 1227-28 (9th Cir. 1984).
“[A] judge may dismiss . . . claims which are
‘based on indisputably meritless legal theories' or
whose ‘factual contentions are clearly
baseless.'” Jackson v. Arizona, 885 F.2d
639, 640 (9th Cir. 1989) (quoting Neitzke, 490 U.S.
at 327), superseded by statute on other grounds as stated
in Lopez v. Smith, 203 F.3d 1122, 1130 (9th Cir. 2000).
The critical inquiry is whether a constitutional claim,
however inartfully pleaded, has an arguable legal and factual
basis. Franklin, 745 F.2d at 1227-28 (citations
Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)(2) requires only ‘a short
and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is
entitled to relief,' in order to ‘give the
defendant fair notice of what the . . . claim is and the
grounds upon which it rests.'” Bell Atl. Corp.
v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (alteration in
original) (quoting Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 47
(1957)). “Failure to state a claim under § 1915A
incorporates the familiar standard applied in the context of
failure to state a claim under Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 12(b)(6).” Wilhelm v. Rotman, 680
F.3d 1113, 1121 (9th Cir. 2012) (citations omitted). In order
to survive dismissal for failure to state a claim, a
complaint must contain more than “a formulaic
recitation of the elements of a cause of action;” it
must contain factual allegations sufficient “to raise a
right to relief above the speculative level.”
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555 (citations omitted).
“‘[T]he pleading must contain something more . .
. than . . . a statement of facts that merely creates a
suspicion [of] a legally cognizable right of
action.'” Id. (alteration in original)
(quoting 5 Charles Alan Wright & Arthur R. Miller,
Federal Practice and Procedure § 1216 (3d ed.
complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as
true, to ‘state a claim to relief that is plausible on
its face.'” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S.
662, 678 (2009) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570).
“A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff
pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the
reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the
misconduct alleged.” Id. (citing
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556). In reviewing a complaint
under this standard, the court must accept as true the
allegations of the complaint in question, Hosp. Bldg. Co.
v. Trs. of the Rex Hosp., 425 U.S. 738, 740 (1976), as
well as ...