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Chaney v. Wilkins

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

January 17, 2019

ALONZA DARRELL CHANEY, [1]Plaintiff,
v.
WILKINS, Lunchroom Manager at Jackson State Prison, Defendant.

          ORDER OF DISMISSAL

          TILMAN E. SELF, III, JUDGE

         Plaintiff Alonza Darrell Chaney, a prisoner in Rogers State Prison, filed a Complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. [Doc. 1]. Along with his Complaint, Plaintiff filed a Motion for Leave to Proceed In Forma Pauperis [Doc. 2] and two Motions to Appoint Counsel. [Docs. 3, 6]. After due consideration, the Court GRANTS Plaintiff's motion to proceed in forma pauperis [Doc. 2] and DENIES his motions for the appointment of counsel [Docs. 3, 6]. Additionally, because Plaintiff's Complaint fails to state a claim for relief, the Court DISMISSES Plaintiff's complaint without prejudice.

         I. Motion to Proceed In Forma Pauperis [Doc. 2]

         Any court of the United States may authorize a plaintiff to commence a civil action without prepayment of the required filing fee (in forma pauperis) if the plaintiff shows that he is indigent and financially unable to pay the court's fee. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a). A prisoner wishing 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(a)(1)-(2).

         Pursuant to this provision, Plaintiff moves for leave to proceed without prepayment of the Court's $350.00 filing fee, and his submissions show that he is currently unable to prepay any portion of the filing fee. Therefore, the Court GRANTS Plaintiff's motion to proceed in forma pauperis [Doc. 2]. Plaintiff, however, must still eventually pay the full balance of the filing fee, in installments, as set forth in § 1915(b) and explained below. The district court's filing fee is not refundable, regardless of the outcome of the case, and Plaintiff must therefore pay the fee in full, even if the Court dismisses Plaintiff's Complaint prior to service.

         For this reason, the Court DIRECTS the CLERK to forward a copy of this Order to the business manager of the facility where Plaintiff is incarcerated so that withdrawals from his account may commence as payment towards the filing fee.

         A. Directions to Plaintiff's Custodian

         Because the Court granted Plaintiff's Motion for Leave to Proceed In Forma Pauperis [Doc. 2] in the above-captioned case, the Court FURTHER ORDERS the warden of the institution in which Plaintiff is incarcerated, or the Sheriff of any county wherein he is held in custody, and any successor custodians, to 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 Plaintiff has paid the $350.00 filing fee in full. The prison account custodian shall collect and withhold the funds on a monthly basis, and shall forward the amount collected as payment towards the filing fee, provided the amount in Plaintiff's account exceeds $10.00. The custodian shall continue to collect and remit payments until the Clerk receives the entire fee, even if the Court dismisses Plaintiff's lawsuit or grants judgment against Plaintiff before the filing fee is paid in full.

         B. Plaintiff's Obligations Upon Release

         An individual's release from prison does not excuse his prior noncompliance with the provisions of the PLRA. Thus, in the event that the State of Georgia or any county therein releases Plaintiff from custody, Plaintiff shall remain obligated to pay those installments that the income to his prisoner trust account justified during his incarceration. The Court hereby authorizes collection from Plaintiff of any balance due on these payments by any means permitted by law if Plaintiff is released from custody and fails to remit such payments. The Court may dismiss Plaintiff's Complaint if he has the ability to make such payments and fails to do so or if he otherwise fails to comply with the provisions of the PLRA.

         II. Motions for Appointment of Counsel [Docs. 3, 6]

         As previously noted, Plaintiff filed two motions asking the Court to appoint counsel in his case. [Docs. 3, 6]. However, there is no constitutional right to appointment of counsel in a civil action. See Bass v. Perrin, 170 F.3d 1312, 1320 (11th Cir. 1999). Instead, appointment of counsel in a civil action is a privilege that is justified only by exceptional circumstances. Lopez v. Reyes, 692 F.2d 15, 17 (5th Cir. 1982). In deciding whether legal counsel should be provided, courts consider, among other factors, the merits of the plaintiff's claims and the complexity of the issues presented. Holt v. Ford, 862 F.2d 850, 853 (11th Cir. 1989).

         In this case, the facts underlying Plaintiff's claims are neither complicated nor unusual. Moreover, the law governing Plaintiff's claims is neither novel nor complex to justify the appointment of counsel. As such, there are no exceptional circumstances that would require the appointment of counsel in this case. See Lopez, 692 F.2d at 17; see also Wright v. Langford, 562 Fed.Appx. 769, 777 (11th Cir. 2014) (per curiam) (explaining that counsel should only be appointed in a civil case “in exceptional circumstances”). Thus, the Court DENIES Plaintiff's Motions to Appoint Counsel. [Docs. 3, 6].

         III. Authority & Standard for ...


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