United States District Court, M.D. Georgia, Macon Division
ORDER ADOPTING UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE'S
ORDER AND RECOMMENDATION
E. SELF, III, JUDGE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
the Court for consideration is the United States Magistrate
Judge's Order and Recommendation [Doc. 72], which the
Court ADOPTS over Plaintiff's
timely-filed objections [Doc. 76].
AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
Complaint [Doc. 1] sets forth the following facts. On October
30, 2014, Plaintiff suffered injuries to his face and jaw
when he was attacked by a fellow inmate at Dooly State
Prison. [Doc. 1, at 10]. Plaintiff alleges that, following
this incident, he received inadequate medical and dental
treatment from which he continues suffer. [Doc. 1, at 10-12].
Plaintiff contends that Defendants Harper and Hollins,
officers who transported him to and from Taylor Regional
Medical Center following the attack, refused to allow an
emergency room doctor to treat his broken jaw and placed him
in a segregation cell without further medical attention.
[Doc. 1, at 11]. Plaintiff also asserts that Defendant
Utley, the Dooly State Prison dentist to whom Plaintiff was
referred by several medical professionals, failed to
acknowledge or treat his subsequent dental problems. [Doc.
1-1, at 14].
filed this § 1983 action on October 17, 2016, claiming
that Defendants' deliberate indifference to his medical
needs violated the Eighth Amendment prohibition of cruel and
unusual punishment. [Doc. 1-1, at 1-12].
April 25, 2018, the Magistrate Judge issued rulings and
recommendations regarding the parties' flurry of
submissions. The Order [Doc. 72] denied Plaintiff's
pending motions for appointment of counsel [Docs. 33, 62],
motion to declare SOP 227.06 unconstitutional [Doc. 63], and
discovery motions [Docs. 31, 32, 59].
Defendant Utley's failure to file an answer, both parties
submitted documents relating to Defendant Utley's
default. [Docs. 48, 52, 55, 56]. The Magistrate
Judge denied Plaintiff's Motion for Default Judgment
[Doc. 56], granted Defendant Utley's Motion to Set Aside
Default [Doc. 55], and granted Plaintiff's “Motions
for Claims Against Defendant Utley to Go Forward”
[Docs. 48, 52]. Finally, the Magistrate Judge recommended
that Defendants Harper and Hollins' Motion to Dismiss
[Doc. 25] be granted. [Doc. 72, at 8-12]. Shortly thereafter,
Plaintiff filed a timely Objection [Doc. 76] to the
Magistrate Judge's findings; as such, the Court reviews
the Order and Recommendation [Doc. 72] de novo.
See 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(C).
Court ADOPTS the Order of the Magistrate
Judge [Doc. 72] with regards to Plaintiffs various motions
[Docs. 31, 32, 33, 59, 62, 63].
Plaintiff's Motions to Appoint Counsel [Docs. 33,
Court agrees with the Magistrate Judge's denial of
Plaintiff's motions requesting appointment of counsel
[Docs. 33, 62]. While district courts may appoint attorneys
to represent indigent litigants, prisoners raising civil
rights claims, as in § 1983 actions, have no absolute
constitutional right to counsel. See 28 U.S.C.
§ 1915(e)(1); Delguidice v. Primus, 679
Fed.Appx. 944, 946 (11th Cir. 2017) (citing Poole v.
Lambert, 819 F.2d 1025, 1028 (11th Cir. 1987)).
Accordingly, appointment of counsel is a privilege entrusted
to the Court's discretion and justified only by
Delguidice, 679 Fed.Appx. at 946; see Sims v.
Nguyen, 403 Fed.Appx. 410, 414 (11th Cir. 2010).
Plaintiff fails to demonstrate the existence of exceptional
circumstances necessitating appointment of counsel. In his
Objection [Doc. 76], Plaintiff contends that, with an
attorney, he could access his medical file, avoid limitations
on indigent postage, and otherwise “have a
chance” at prevailing on his claims. [Doc. 76, at
1-2]. However, Plaintiff has proved capable of
adequately presenting his case without an attorney. As his
filings reveal, Plaintiff sets forth the essential factual
allegations underlying his claims, as well as the applicable
legal doctrines governing the dispute. See
Delguidice, 679 Fed.Appx. at 947 (no exceptional
circumstances existed when Plaintiff's filings alleged
relevant facts and referenced applicable law); [Doc. 1, at
10-12; Doc. 1-1, at 1-12]. Moreover, Plaintiff's
incarceration does not unduly impede his ability to
investigate his case, as the claims are “based on
incidents personally experienced by Plaintiff.”
McCall v. Cook, 495 Fed.Appx. 29, 31 (11th Cir.
claims-that Defendants denied him adequate medical and dental
treatment-are “relatively straightforward, involving
incidents of which [Plaintiff] had first-hand knowledge,
” and thus do not necessitate professional legal help.
Sims, 403 Fed.Appx. at 414; see also Wallace v.
Sheriff, 518 Fed.Appx. 621 (11th Cir. 2013) (holding
that a prisoner's claims of deliberate indifference to
serious medical needs did not present novel or complex issues
justifying appointment of counsel). While the evidence of
Plaintiff's claims may well “consist in large part
of conflicting testimony so as to require skill in the
presentation of evidence and in cross examination, ”
this factor alone does not justify appointment of counsel.
Curry v. Secretary, 665 Fed.Appx. 766, 767-68 (11th
Cir. 2016). Indeed, when “the dispositive issue in the
case” involves whether a prisoner exhausted
administrative remedies prior to filing suit, a district
court is well within its rights to refuse appointment of
counsel. Id. Such is the case here, since a central
conflict between Plaintiff and Defendants Harper and Hollins
involves exhaustion. [Doc. 25, at 3-9; Doc. 44, at 2-6; Doc.
46, at 1-5; Doc. 49, at 6-9].
while attorney assistance would undoubtedly benefit
Plaintiff's case, this is true of all pro se
litigants and does not warrant appointment of counsel.
See Bass v. Perrin, 170 F.3d 1312, 1320 (11th Cir.
1999). Accordingly, the Court finds that Plaintiff's
Objection [Doc. 76] as to the issue of appointment of counsel
fails to overcome the Magistrate Judge's reasoning, and
the United ...