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Acosta v. Lavielle

United States District Court, D. Kansas

April 4, 2018

DANIEL BERTRAM ACOSTA, Plaintiff,
v.
MICHAEL LAVIELLE, et al., Defendants.

          ORDER

          GWYNNE E. BIRZER UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         This matter is before the Court on Plaintiff's Motion to Proceed without Prepayment of Fees (ECF No. 3); his Amended Motion to Proceed without Prepayment of Fees (ECF No. 4) and his Motion to Appoint Counsel (ECF No. 5). For the reasons outlined below, Plaintiff's Motions to Proceed without Prepayment of Fees (ECF Nos. 3, 4) are GRANTED, and his Motion to Appoint Counsel is DENIED (ECF No. 5).

         I. Motions to Proceed Without Payment of Fees (ECF Nos. 3, 4)

         Under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a), the Court has the discretion[1] to authorize the filing of a civil case “without prepayment of fees or security thereof, by a person who submits an affidavit that . . . the person is unable to pay such fees or give security thereof.” “Proceeding in forma pauperis in a civil case ‘is a privilege, not a right-fundamental or otherwise.'”[2]To determine whether a party is eligible to file without prepayment of the fee, the Court commonly reviews that party's financial affidavit and compares his or her monthly expenses with the monthly income disclosed therein.[3] In his applications and financial affidavit (ECF No. 3, 4, and 6, sealed), Plaintiff indicates he is not currently employed, possesses minimal assets, and his monthly expenses exceed his monthly income. In keeping with the Court's liberal policy toward permitting proceedings in forma pauperis, [4]and after careful review of Plaintiff's Motions and Affidavit of Financial Status (ECF Nos. 3, 4, and 6, sealed), the Court finds he is financially unable to pay the filing fee.

         IT IS THEREFORE ORDERED that Plaintiff's Motion to Proceed without Prepayment of Fees (ECF No. 3) is GRANTED. Although a grant of in forma pauperis status to a filing party would normally invoke service of process by the clerk of court under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(d) and Fed.R.Civ.P. 4(c)(3), the clerk is directed to stay service of any documents pending the District Court's review of the Report and Recommendation filed simultaneously herein (ECF No. 8).[5]

         II. Motion for Appointment of Counsel (ECF No. 5)

         There is no constitutional right to counsel in a civil action.[6] An evaluation of whether to appoint counsel requires consideration of those factors discussed by the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals in Castner v. Colorado Springs Cablevision, [7] including: (1) the plaintiff's ability to afford counsel, (2) the plaintiff's diligence in searching for counsel, (3) the merits of the plaintiff's case, and (4) the plaintiff's capacity to prepare and present the case without the aid of counsel. In consideration thereof, thoughtful and prudent care in appointing representation is necessary so that willing counsel may be located.[8] The court has an obligation not to make indiscriminate appointments on every occasion that a party seeks court-ordered counsel, [9] particularly considering the expanding federal court dockets, increased filings by pro se parties, and decreasing number of attorneys willing to accept appointments.[10]

         After careful consideration, the Court declines to appoint counsel to represent Plaintiff. Plaintiff has satisfied the first prong of the Castner analysis-his inability to afford counsel-through the financial affidavits provided with his motions to proceed in forma pauperis (ECF Nos. 3, 4, and 6, sealed). However, he failed to fulfill the second prong of the analysis-diligence in searching for counsel-by not producing a single name of any attorney whom he contacted about the case. Despite the Court's form motion being very clear regarding the requirement that a “plaintiff confer with (not merely contact) at least five attorneys regarding legal representation” (see ECF No. 5, at 2), Plaintiff provided no description of his efforts to obtain representation. The Court also finds he cannot meet the third prong of analysis, as the Court has serious concerns regarding its ability to adjudicate Plaintiff's claims. Simultaneously with this order, the Court recommends this case be dismissed pursuant to 28 U.S.C. 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii) for failing to state a claim on which relief may be granted, and for being frivolous or malicious under § 1915(e)(2)(B)(i) (ECF No. 8). Under the circumstances, the request for appointment of counsel shall be denied.

         IT IS THEREFORE ORDERED that Plaintiff's Motion for Appointment of Counsel (ECF No. 5) is DENIED.

         IT IS SO ORDERED.

---------

Notes:

[1] Barnett ex rel. Barnett v. Nw. Sch., No. 00-2499, 2000 WL 1909625, at *1 (D. Kan. Dec. 26, 2000) (citing Cabrera v. Horgas, 173 F.3d 863, at *1 ...


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