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Reed v. North Las Vegas Police Deptartment

United States District Court, D. Nevada

July 15, 2019

DAVID L. REED, Plaintiff,
v.
NORTH LAS VEGAS POLICE DEPTARTMENT, et al., Defendants.

          ORDER

          C.W. HOFFMAN, JR. UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Presently before the court is pro se prisoner David L. Reed's motion to extend time (ECF No. 7), filed on December 10, 2018.

         Also before the court is plaintiff's motion for appointment of counsel (ECF No. 8), filed on December 26, 2018.

         Also before the court is plaintiff's request for service of summons (ECF No. 10), filed on January 30, 2018.

         I. BACKGROUND

         On October 11, 2018, the court denied plaintiff's application to proceed in forma pauperis and ordered plaintiff to file a complete application or pay the full filing fee within 30 days. (Order (ECF No. 4).) The court then extended the deadline for plaintiff to file a complete application or pay the filing fee to December 17, 2018. (Order (ECF No. 6).) Plaintiff then moved for an additional extension of the deadline and shortly thereafter, filed a complete in forma pauperis application. (Mot. for Extension of Time (ECF No. 7); Mot. for Leave to Proceed (ECF No. 9).) Plaintiff also moves for the appointment of counsel, arguing that his imprisonment will limit his ability to litigate. (Mot. for Appointment (ECF No. 8).) Lastly, plaintiff moves for the issuance of summons. (Request for Service (ECF No. 10).)

         II. MOTION TO EXTEND TIME

         Plaintiff moves to extend the time to file a complete in forma pauperis application. (ECF No. 7.) Plaintiff argues that he was unable to receive the necessary inmate financial certificates because they were sent to a unit in which he no longer resides. Shortly after the filing of his motion to extend, plaintiff filed a complete application. In light of plaintiff's representations and the filing of the complete application, the court grants plaintiff's request nunc pro tunc and extends the deadline to January 17, 2019.

         III. MOTION FOR APPOINTMENT OF COUNSEL

         Plaintiff moves for the appointment of counsel to assist him in this case. (Mot. for Appointment of Counsel (ECF No. 8).) Civil litigants do not have a Sixth Amendment right to appointed counsel. Storseth v. Spellman, 654 F.2d 1349, 1353 (9th Cir. 1981). In very limited circumstances, federal courts are empowered to request an attorney to represent an indigent civil litigant. For example, courts have discretion, under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(1), to “request” that an attorney represent indigent civil litigants upon a showing of “exceptional circumstances.” Agyeman v. Corrections Corp. of Am., 390 F.3d 1101, 1103 (9th Cir. 2004). The circumstances in which a court will make such a request, however, are exceedingly rare and require a finding of extraordinary circumstances. United States v. 30.64 Acres of Land, 795 F.2d 796, 799-800 (9th Cir. 1986); Wilborn v. Escalderon, 789 F.2d 1328, 1331 (9th Cir. 1986).

         To determine whether the “exceptional circumstances” necessary for appointment of counsel are present, the court evaluates (1) the likelihood of plaintiff's success on the merits and (2) the plaintiff's ability to articulate his claim pro se “in light of the complexity of the legal issues involved.” Agyeman, 390 F.3d at 1103 (quoting Wilborn, 789 F.2d at 1331). Neither of these factors is dispositive and both must be viewed together. Wilborn, 789 F.2d at 1331. It is within the court's discretion whether to request that an attorney represent an indigent civil litigant under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(1). Palmer v. Valdez, 560 F.3d 965, 970 (9th Cir. 2009).

         Here, plaintiff argues that he is unable to afford counsel, and that he has made attempts to retain counsel. Plaintiff further argues that his incarceration will impact his ability to litigate this case, because the case is complex and requires significant research. Lastly, plaintiff argues that on one or more occasion he was prohibited from accessing the courts, because the facility allegedly mishandled or lost his mail.

         Having reviewed the motion, plaintiff does not demonstrate the exceptional circumstances required for the appointment of an attorney. Given the case's early procedural posture, the court is unable to evaluate plaintiffs likelihood of success on the merits. But plaintiff has thus far demonstrated an ability to articulate his claims without an attorney, and the legal issues in this case are not complex. Any pro se litigant “would be better served with the assistance of counsel.” Rand v. Rowland, 113 F.3d 1520, 1525 (9th Cir. 1997) (citing Wilborn, 789 F.2d at 1331). Nonetheless, so long as a pro se litigant can “articulate his claims against the relative complexity of the matter, ” the “exceptional circumstances” which might require the appointment of counsel do not exist. Id. The court in its discretion therefore denies plaintiffs motion.

         IV. ...


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