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Woody v. Bryson

United States District Court, M.D. Georgia, Macon Division

May 16, 2017

HOMER BRYSON, et al, Defendants.



         This case is currently before the Court for preliminary screening as required by the Prison Litigation Reform Act (“PLRA”), 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. Plaintiff Jeremy Jay Woody, an inmate confined at Central State Prison in Macon Georgia, filed this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging that prison officials failed to provide necessary accommodations for his hearing disability, in violation of Plaintiff's constitutional rights. (Doc. 1). Before the Court is also Plaintiff's Motion for Leave to Proceed in forma pauperis (Doc. 2) and Plaintiff's request for appointment of counsel (Doc. 1, p. 17).

         I. Motion to Proceed In Forma Pauperis

         Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915, the district courts may authorize the commencement a civil action in forma pauperis (“IFP”) if the plaintiff shows that he is indigent and currently unable to pay the court's filing fee. A prisoner seeking to proceed under § 1915 must provide the district court with both (1) an affidavit in support of his claim of indigence and (2) a certified copy of his prison “trust fund account statement (or institutional equivalent) for the 6-month period immediately preceding the filing of the complaint.” § 1915(b).

         Plaintiff moved for leave to proceed in forma pauperis in this case, and his motion was granted with the requirement that he pay an initial partial filing fee of $15.80. That payment has been received by the Clerk of Court; thus Plaintiff's complaint is now ripe for preliminary screening. Plaintiff is, however, also required to pay the remainder of the filing fee, in installments, under the payment plan as set forth in § 1915(b). For this reason, it is requested that the CLERK forward a copy of this ORDER to the business manager of the facility in which Plaintiff is incarcerated so that withdrawals from his account may commence as payment towards the filing fee.

         A. Directions to Plaintiff's Custodian

         Because Plaintiff has now been granted leave to proceed in forma paupers in the above-captioned case, it is hereby ORDERED that the warden of the institution wherein Plaintiff is incarcerated, or the Sheriff of any county wherein he is held in custody, and any successor custodians, each month cause to be remitted to the CLERK of this Court twenty percent (20%) of the preceding month's income credited to Plaintiff's trust account at said institution until the $350.00 filing fee has been paid in full. It is further ORDERED that these funds be collected and withheld by the prison account custodian who shall, on a monthly basis, forward the amount collected to the CLERK of this Court as payment towards the filing fee, provided the amount in the prisoner's account exceeds $10.00. The custodian is DIRECTED to continue these collections from Plaintiff's trust account until the entire $350.00 filing fee has been paid, notwithstanding the dismissal of Plaintiff's lawsuit or the granting of judgment against him prior to the collection of the full filing fee.

         B. Plaintiff's Obligations Upon Release

         In the event Plaintiff is hereafter released from the custody of the State of Georgia or any county thereof, he shall remain obligated to continue making monthly payments to the CLERK toward the balance due until said amount has been paid in full. Collection from Plaintiff of any balance due on the filing fee by any means permitted by law is hereby authorized in the event Plaintiff is released from custody and fails to remit payments. Plaintiff's complaint may be dismissed if he is able to make payments but fails to do so.

         II. Motion for Appointment of Counsel

         Before addressing the Complaint, the Court must also consider Plaintiff's request for counsel. Though not raised in a separate motion, Plaintiff's Complaint, when liberally construed, alleges that his physical impairment may render him unable to adequately prosecute his case without the assistance of counsel. (Doc. 1, p. 17).

         The district court is vested with the discretion, by 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e), to appoint counsel in a civil case for a plaintiff unable to afford an attorney. Civil litigants (including indigent prisoners pursuing a § 1983 action), however, do not have an absolute right to the appointment of counsel. Poole v. Lambert, 819 F.2d 1025, 1028 (11th Cir. 1987). The appointment of counsel in a civil case is “a privilege that is justified only by exceptional circumstances, such as where the facts and legal issues are so novel or complex as to require the assistance of a trained practitioner.” Id. “The key is whether the pro se litigant needs help in presenting the essential merits of his or her position to the court. Where the facts and issues are simple, he or she usually will not need such help.” Kilgo v. Ricks, 983 F.2d 189, 193 (11th Cir. 1993).

         In this case, Plaintiff has filed a § 1983 complaint on the standard complaint form designed for pro se litigants. The PLRA requires that the undersigned now review Plaintiff's complaint to determine whether he can possibly state a viable claim against the named defendants. This process is routine in pro se prisoner actions and not an “exceptional circumstance” justifying the appointment of counsel. The facts and legal issues involved in this case are fairly straightforward; and the court has not imposed any procedural requirements which could limit Plaintiff's ability to present his case. See Kilgo, 983 F.2d 193-94. Further, through his pleadings, Plaintiff has already shown that he is able to clearly and logically communicate his factual and legal claims to the Court in writing without the need of counsel. Accordingly, Plaintiff's request for counsel is DENIED.

         III. Authority & Standard for ...

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