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Troya v. Wilson

United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Terre Haute Division

September 24, 2018

DANIEL A TROYA, Plaintiff,



         The plaintiff, Daniel Troya, has filed a motion to reconsider the Court's Entry dated July 23, 2018, that denied his fourth motion for counsel. Troya asserts that the Court made a factual error when it determined that inmate Wesley Purkey was being prevented from providing him legal assistance in drafting his pleadings and based on this factual error the Court was wrong to deny the motion for counsel.

         The Court based its finding that inmate Purkey was being prevented from providing Troya legal assistance on the following:

         Underlying Facts Supporting Claims of Interference By USP/TH Staff With Troya's Access To The Court In The Immediate Litigation:

         1. In the past several months Troya has diligently tried to gain legal assistance from Inmate Turkey who resides on the same Range as he does baaed on the extremely limited one (1) hour per week that the governing SCU Policy allows. See Purkey's Aff'd / Appx. (A). On average Troya has been afforded access to what the applicable governing SCU characterizes as "Inmate Assisted Legal Meetings1' either once every other week and/or three 'one hour meetings' every two months- See purkey's Aff'd ¶(s)(2) thr (7).

         2. Troya has sought redress of such limited access based on policy mandates with Unit Manager Thomas who basically has turned a deaf ear to concerns presented to her through the past several month period. Further' he has reiterated to applicable SCU Administrative Staff concerns of certain SCU Security Staff on the 2-10 Shift's ongoing interference with scheluded 'legal meetings.' with Inmate as delineated via given SCU policy dictates without tentative resolve-

         3. Both Ms.'Thomas, as well as the USP/TH Legal Department Supervisor Ms. K. Siereveld claim that Troya has absolutely no right to have Inmate Purkey or for that matter any particular inmate to afford him with legal assistance and that they can designate any inmate they choose to afford Troya with legal assistance whether such other inmate's have tenable qualifications in affording him with legal assistance. Sea Turkey's Affrd ¶ (9)/Appx. (B).

         Dkt. No. 47.

         Moreover, in the July 23, 2018, Entry, the Court denied Troya's motion for counsel for multiple reasons. Dkt. No. 76. One of those reasons is that the quality of Troya's legal filings had not diminished even after he was believed no longer to be receiving assistance from inmate Purkey. Regardless of Troya's access to legal assistance from an inmate or the law library, this Court, having reviewed this record, is confident for the following reasons, that Troya is competent to litigate this case.

         In the motion to reconsider, Troya relies on James v. Eli, 889 F.3d 320 (7th Cir. 2018) for support as to why he should be appointed counsel. In James, the Court reiterated the necessary analysis for counsel requests previously set forth in Pruitt v. Mote, 503 F.3d 647 (7th Cir. 2007) (en banc). Here, the Court has already determined that Troya has satisfied the first inquiry of Pruitt in that he has made sufficient efforts to recruit counsel on his own. The second inquiry, whether Troya is competent to litigate this action himself, is at issue in Troya's motion to reconsider. With respect to the second inquiry, the Court in James stated that the question is “‘whether the difficulty of the case - factually and legally - exceeds the particular plaintiff's capacity as a layperson to coherently present it to the judge or jury himself.'” James, 889 F.3d at 327, citing Johnson v. Doughty, 433 F.3d 1001, 1006 (7th Cir. 2006). The Court also recognized that “‘cases involving complex medical evidence are typically more difficult for pro se litigants.'” Id., Santiago v. Walls, 599 F.3d 749, 761 (7th Cir. 2010); Perez v. Fenoglio, 792 F.3d 792, 784 (7th Cir. 2015); Pruitt, 503 F.3d at 655-56; Zarnes v. Rhodes, 64 F.3d 285, 289 n.2 (7th Cir. 1995). Ultimately, the Court in James instructed that district courts should “‘review any information submitted in support of the request for counsel, as well as the pleadings, communications from, and any contact with the plaintiff.'” Id., quoting Pruitt, 503 F.3d at 655. The court should also consider the “‘plaintiff literacy, communication skills, education level, and litigation experience.'” Id., quoting Pruitt, 503 F.3d at 655.

         Here, Troya seeks the appointment of counsel because 1) he is being prevented from obtaining evidence to support his claims from witnesses/inmates, 2) the defendants submitted expert testimony in support of their motion for summary judgment, and 3) he only has a G.E.D.

         First, Troya has complained that he was not able to obtain evidence from other inmates confined at USP-Terre Haute. Thus, the Court attempted to assist him by allowing him to file (ex parte) a letter directed to inmates Tipton and Barrett that requested that they provide an affidavit setting forth their personal knowledge of Troya's wellbeing on April 11, 2016. Dkt. No. 80. Troya responded and notified the Court that he did not want to submit correspondence via the Court to these individuals. He further stated that his inability to obtain this evidence was further evidence that he needed counsel appointed.

         The defendants also responded to the Court's Entry and notified the Court that USP-TH would be willing to accommodate Troya's need to correspond with Tipton and Barrett in accordance with Bureau of Prison Program Statement 5265.14 and 28 C.F.R. § 540.17. Thus, Troya may use this mechanism to obtain necessary evidence from Tipton and Barrett.[1]

         Further, in denying Troya's fourth motion for counsel with respect to his concern that he would not be able to ...

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