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Santais v. Jones

United States District Court, S.D. Georgia, Statesboro Division

January 26, 2018

YVES SANTAIS, Plaintiff,



         This matter is before the Court on Plaintiff's Motion to Compel Discovery, (doc. 31), Motion to Appoint Counsel, (doc. 32), and Motion for Preliminary Injunction for Law Library Access Time, [1] (doc. 38). Defendant filed Responses opposing Plaintiff's Motions to Compel and to Appoint Counsel. (Docs. 34, 35.) Plaintiff filed a Reply regarding his Motion to Appoint Counsel. (Doc. 36.) For the reasons set forth below, the Court DENIES Plaintiff's Motions to Compel Discovery and to Appoint Counsel. (Docs. 31, 32.) Further, I RECOMMEND that the Court DENY Plaintiff's Motion for Preliminary Injunction for Law Library Access Time. (Doc. 38.) Additionally, the Court gives instructions to Defendant regarding Plaintiff's motion for the return of his law library access time.


         Plaintiff, an inmate at Coffee Correctional Facility in Nicholls, Georgia, filed this action, pro se, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 contesting certain conditions of his confinement. (Doc. 1.) After frivolity review, Plaintiff's surviving Eighth Amendment claims were limited to those against the above-named Defendant in his individual capacity for compensatory and punitive damages under Section 1983, as well as injunctive relief. (Docs. 20, 27.) On October 5, 2016, Defendant filed a Motion for Summary Judgment contending the undisputed facts show he did not use excessive force in violation of the Eighth Amendment and Plaintiff is not entitled to an injunction, and that Motion remains pending. (Doc. 28.) Plaintiff filed a Response. (Doc. 30.) Subsequently, Plaintiff filed his aforementioned Motions to Compel Discovery, to Appoint Counsel, and for Law Library Access Time, (docs. 31, 32, 38), and Defendant filed his Responses in opposition, (docs. 34, 35). Per the Court's Scheduling Notice, discovery closed on June 27, 2017, and the proposed Pretrial Order was submitted on August 25, 2017. (Docs. 24, 33.)


         I. Plaintiff's Motion to Compel Discovery (Doc. 31)

         Plaintiff filed a Motion to Compel Discovery, contending Defendant failed to respond to his August 10, 2016 request for production of documents. (Doc. 31, p. 2.) However, Plaintiff does not indicate that he has complied with this Court's Local Rule 26.5. Plaintiff does not provide any specific grounds he has for filing the Motion, much less reasons to support those grounds. Additionally, Plaintiff provides no certification to show that he has in good faith conferred or attempted to confer with the person or party that allegedly failed to make the disclosure in an effort to obtain a response without Court action. Fed.R.Civ.P. 37(a)(1). Plaintiff simply states that he “submitted a motion” for various documents but has yet to receive them. (Doc. 31, p. 2.) He provides no evidence of these submissions, and furthermore, he gives no indication that he at all tried to resolve this dispute before coming to Court. In response, Defendant avers that Plaintiff never served any discovery on that date or any other date. (Doc. 34, p. 2.) Defendant supports this claim with two adjoining affidavits. (Id. at pp. 4-6.) Moreover, the Court notes that discovery closed on June 27, 2017. Accordingly, the Court DENIES Plaintiff's Motion to Compel.

         II. Plaintiff's Motion to Appoint Counsel (Doc. 32)

         In this civil case, Plaintiff has no constitutional right to the appointment of counsel. Wright v. Langford, 562 F. App'x 769, 777 (11th Cir. 2014) (citing Bass v. Perrin, 170 F.3d 1312, 1320 (11th Cir. 1999)). “Although a court may, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(1), appoint counsel for an indigent plaintiff, it has broad discretion in making this decision, and should appoint counsel only in exceptional circumstances.” Wright, 562 F. App'x at 777 (citing Bass, 170 F.3d at 1320). 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.” Fowler v. Jones, 899 F.2d 1088, 1096 (11th Cir. 1990) (citing Poole v. Lambert, 819 F.2d 1025, 1028 (11th Cir. 1987), and Wahl v. McIver, 773 F.2d 1169, 1174 (11th Cir. 1985)). The Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals has explained that “the key” to assessing whether counsel should be appointed “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.” McDaniels v. Lee, 405 F. App'x 456, 457 (11th Cir. 2010) (quoting Kilgo v. Ricks, 983 F.2d 189, 193 (11th Cir. 1993)).

         The Court has reviewed the record and pleadings in this case and finds no “exceptional circumstances” warranting the appointment of counsel. While the Court understands that Plaintiff is incarcerated, this Court has repeatedly found that “prisoners do not receive special consideration notwithstanding the challenges of litigating a case while incarcerated.” Hampton v. Peeples, No. CV 614-104, 2015 WL 4112435, at *2 (S.D. Ga. July 7, 2015). “Indeed, the Eleventh Circuit has consistently upheld district courts' decisions to refuse appointment of counsel in 42 U.S.C. § 1983 actions similar to this case for want of exceptional circumstances.” Id. (citing Smith v. Warden, Hardee Corr. Inst., 597 F. App'x 1027, 1030 (11th Cir. 2015); Wright, 562 F. App'x at 777; Faulkner v. Monroe Cty. Sheriff's Dep't, 523 F. App'x 696, 702 (11th Cir. 2013); McDaniels v. Lee, 405 F. App'x 456, 457 (11th Cir. 2010); Sims v. Nguyen, 403 F. App'x 410, 414 (11th Cir. 2010); Fowler, 899 F.2d at 1091, 1096; Wahl, 773 F.2d at 1174). As shown by his many competent pleadings, including those presently before the Court, this case is not so complex legally or factually to prevent Plaintiff from presenting “the essential merits of his position” to the Court. The Court recognizes English is not Plaintiff's first language, (doc. 36), but finds that his filings and communications with the Court demonstrate an understanding proficient to proceed without appointment of counsel. For these reasons, the Court DENIES Plaintiff's Motion to Appoint Counsel.

         III. Plaintiff's Motion for Preliminary Injunction for Law Library Access Time (Doc. 38)

         In his Motion for a Preliminary Injunction, Plaintiff requests that the Court order prison officials to grant him the legal research time he had prior to September 29, 2017, which was three days each week. (Doc. 38, p. 2.) Plaintiff submits he has had this level of access for three years and provides supporting documentation showing the truth of this claim. (Id.; Doc. 38-1, pp. 6-9.) Plaintiff argues his access was revoked to harm his lawsuit and done so in violation of his Constitutional rights. (Doc. 38, pp. 2-3.)

         To be entitled to a temporary restraining order or preliminary injunction, a plaintiff must demonstrate: (1) a substantial likelihood of ultimate success on the merits; (2) that a restraining order or injunction is necessary to prevent irreparable injury; (3) that the threatened injury outweighs the harm that the restraining order or injunction would inflict on the other party; and (4) that the restraining order or injunction would not be adverse to the public interest. Schiavo ex rel. Schindler v. Schiavo, 403 F.3d 1223, 1225-26 (11th Cir. 2005). Similarly, a plaintiff requesting a permanent injunction must satisfy the following four-factor test:

(1) that [the plaintiff] has suffered an irreparable injury; (2) that remedies available at law, such as monetary damages, are inadequate to compensate for that injury; (3) that, considering the balance of hardships between the plaintiff and defendant, a remedy in equity is warranted; and (4) that ...

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