United States District Court, D. Idaho
MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER
C. NYE U.S. DISTRICT COURT JUDGE
Plaintiff Josephine Guion petitions the Court for appointment
of counsel. Dkt. 9. For the reasons set forth below, the
Court will DENY the Motion at this time.
alleges that, in July 2013, she “became a participant
in the 2- year T.I.P.S. Transitional House Program”
(now known as “Bonner Homeless Transitions”) in
Northern Idaho. She alleges that while she was a participant
in that program, the program managers and board members
discriminated against her based on her race. Guion alleges
they did this by, amongst other things, making racist and
disparaging comments to and about her, forcing her into
dilapidated housing, forcing her out of the program, and
otherwise harassing her. Then, when Guion wanted to explore
the process for filing a race discrimination complaint, the
Defendants threatened to have harassment charges brought
against her. The Defendants then told others Guion was
“a threatening, intimidating, volatile, angry
person” who has mental illnesses and that harasses and
physically attacks others. Based on these allegations, and
many other facts detailed in her Complaint, Guion asserts
claims for housing discrimination, violation of her
constitutional rights, defamation, and intentional infliction
of emotional distress.
Court previously granted Guion's Application for Leave to
File In Forma Pauperis. Dkt. 4. Guion now asks the Court to
appoint counsel on her behalf. Dkt. 9.
criminal defendants, prisoners and indigents in civil actions
have no constitutional right to counsel unless their physical
liberty is at stake. Lassiter v. Dep't of Social
Services, 452 U.S. 18, 25 (1981). Whether a court
appoints counsel for indigent litigants is within the
court's discretion. Wilborn v. Escalderon, 789
F.2d 1328, 1331 (9th Cir. 1986).
civil cases, counsel should be appointed only in
“exceptional circumstances.” Id. To
determine whether exceptional circumstances exist, the court
should evaluate two factors: (1) the likelihood of success on
the merits of the case, and (2) the ability of the plaintiff
to articulate the claims pro se in light of the complexity of
legal issues involved. Terrell v. Brewer, 935 F.2d
1015, 1017 (9th Cir. 1991). Neither factor is dispositive,
and both must be evaluated together. Id.
the Court finds that exceptional circumstances exist, it does
not have the authority to require attorneys to represent
indigent litigants in civil cases under 28 U.S.C. §
1915(e). Mallard v. U.S. Dist. Court for S. Dist. of
Iowa, 490 U.S. 296, 298 (1989). Rather, the Court can
merely “request” that an attorney represent the
individual, and the attorney must then voluntarily accept the
assignment. Id. The Court has no funds to pay for
attorneys' fees in civil matters such as this one.
Therefore, it can be difficult to find attorneys willing to
work on a case without payment.
Court previously conducted an initial review of Guion's
complaint (pursuant to its order granting her Application to
Proceed In Forma Pauperis) and found that Guion sufficiently
articulated her claims. However, such a finding does not
necessarily mean Guion's claims have merit. All this
means is that Guion's complaint, liberally construed,
appears to state a claim upon which relief could be granted
if the allegations are proven at trial. Without more than the
bare allegations of the Complaint, the court does not have a
sufficient basis upon which to assess the merits, if any, at
this point in the proceeding.
the Court recognizes that some of Guion's claims may
involve complex legal issues, and there is no doubt that
Guion, like any other pro se litigant, would benefit from the
assistance of counsel in this matter. See Rand v.
Rowland,113 F.3d 1520, 1525 (9th Cir. 1997). But so
far, she has proven herself capable of pursuing her claims as
a pro se ...