United States District Court, E.D. California
ORDER DENYING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR A COURT
ORDER REQUIRING DEFENDANTS TO HOLD A SETTLEMENT CONFERENCE
WITH PLAINTIFF AND FOR APPOINTMENT OF COUNSEL (ECF NO.
BARBARA A. MCAULIFFE UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Reginald Ray York is a state prisoner proceeding pro
se in this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983. This action proceeds on Plaintiff's claims
against Defendant Garcia for excessive force and against
Defendant Neighbors for failure to intervene/protect
Plaintiff from the use of force. (ECF No. 81.)
November 8, 2019, Magistrate Judge Stanley A. Boone conducted
a settlement conference in this case at California State
Prison, Corcoran. This case did not settle at that time.
before the Court is Plaintiff's motion for “a court
order for the Defendants' and prison representative to
hold a settlement conference hearing with the Plaintiff to
negotiate a settlement based upon the claims in this case and
appointment of an attorney[, ]” filed on December 2,
2019. (ECF No. 90.) In his motion, Plaintiff argues that the
Court should order Defendants and a prison representative to
hold a settlement conference with the Plaintiff in order to
negotiate a settlement based upon the claims of this case
that is fair and reasonable and within CDCR's insurance
policy limits because the settlement offers at the prior
settlement conference were not properly based upon the value
of this case. Further, Plaintiff contends that the Court
should appoint counsel to represent him because he cannot
afford to hire a lawyer, his imprisonment greatly limits his
ability to litigate this case, a lawyer would be helpful
during the trial process, and Plaintiff was diagnosed with
anti-social personality disorder in 1994.
with regards to Plaintiff's request to have this Court
set another settlement conference and require Defendants and
a prison representative to negotiate a settlement with
Plaintiff, Plaintiff does not have either a constitutional
right or a right under California law to settle his case for
an amount that he considers to be fair and reasonable.
Additionally, Defendants are not bound by any authority cited
by Plaintiff to settle this case because Defendants are not
insurers and are not otherwise required to settle with
Plaintiff. Therefore, the Court denies Plaintiff's
request to set a second settlement conference in this case.
However, Plaintiff is not precluded from negotiating directly
with defense counsel. What is fair and reasonable for
settlement purposes is the subject of the parties'
with regards to Plaintiff's request for appointment of
counsel, Plaintiff does not have a constitutional right to
appointed counsel in this action, Rand v. Rowland,
113 F.3d 1520, 1525 (9th Cir. 1997), and the court cannot
require any attorney to represent Plaintiff pursuant to 28
U.S.C. § 1915(e)(1), Mallard v. United States
District Court for the Southern District of Iowa, 490
U.S. 296, 298 (1989). Nevertheless, in certain exceptional
circumstances, the court may request the voluntary assistance
of counsel pursuant to § 1915(e)(1). Rand, 113
F.3d at 1525.
a reasonable method of securing and compensating counsel, the
Court will seek volunteer counsel only in the most serious
and exceptional cases. In determining whether
“exceptional circumstances exist, the district court
must evaluate 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.” Id. (internal quotation marks and
citations omitted). “Neither of these considerations is
dispositive and instead must be viewed together.”
Palmer v. Valdez, 560 F.3d 965, 970 (9th Cir. 2009).
The burden of demonstrating exceptional circumstances is on
Court has considered Plaintiff's request for appointed
counsel, but does not find the required exceptional
circumstances. Initially, circumstances common to most
prisoners, such as lack of legal education, limited law
library access, and lack of funds to hire counsel, do not
alone establish the exceptional circumstances that would
warrant appointment of counsel. Specifically, Plaintiff's
apprehension with pursuing this case on his own, while
understandable, is not sufficient grounds for appointing
counsel. See Wilborn v. Escalderon, 789 F.2d 1328,
1331 (9th Cir. 1986) (“Most actions require development
of further facts during litigation and a pro se litigant will
seldom be in a position to investigate easily the facts
necessary to support the case.”).
with respect to Plaintiff's claim that his diagnosed
mental illness makes this case too complex for him to
litigate at this stage of the proceedings, a plaintiff that
shows an ability to reasonably articulate his claims is not
entitled to appointment of counsel, regardless of whether the
plaintiff has mental health problems. See Warren v.
Harrison, 244 Fed.Appx. 831, 832 (9th Cir. 2007)
(holding that an inmate plaintiff with mental health problems
was not entitled to appointment of counsel because the
plaintiff demonstrated an ability to articulate his claims
pro se); Miller v. McDaniel, 124 Fed.Appx.
488, 490 (9th Cir. 2005) (holding that an inmate plaintiff
with mental health problems was not entitled to appointment
of counsel because the plaintiff demonstrated an ability to
articulate his claims pro se). Here, while Plaintiff
has alleged that this case is too complex for him to
litigate, the Court finds that Plaintiff's claims do not
present novel or complex issues of substantive law and that
Plaintiff has demonstrated that he is able to clearly
articulate his claims and prosecute this action. Therefore,
Plaintiff's request for the appointment of counsel is
denied, without prejudice.
Plaintiff's motion for a court order requiring Defendants
to hold a settlement conference with Plaintiff and for