United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, Hammond Division
OPINION AND ORDER
P. Rodovich United States Magistrate Judge
matter is before the court on the Motion for Appointment of
Counsel [DE 3] filed by the plaintiff, Katrina Strub, on June
26, 2019. For the following reasons, the motion is
plaintiff, Katrina Strub, filed her pro se
Complaint, along with a Motion to Proceed in Forma Pauperis
on June 26, 2019. The court denied Strub's motion to
proceed in forma pauperis as moot because Strub had paid the
filing fee. The defendants have not yet responded to the
Complaint. Strub has filed the instant motion requesting that
the court appoint counsel to represent her.
has no constitutional or statutory right to counsel in this
civil case. See Brown v. United States, 74 Fed.Appx.
611, 614 (7th Cir. 2003); Zarnes v. Rhodes, 64 F.3d
285, 288 (7th Cir. 1995) (citing Jackson v. County of
McLean, 953 F.2d 1070, 1071 (7th Cir. 1992)). However,
28 U.S.C. § 1915(e) provides that “[t]he court may
request an attorney to represent any person unable to afford
counsel.” The decision of a district court to appoint
counsel is reviewed for an abuse of discretion. Weiss v.
Cooley, 230 F.3d 1027, 1034 (7th Cir. 2000);
Jackson, 953 F.2d at 1071-1072.
determining whether to appoint counsel for a civil litigant a
court must consider the following factors: “(1) has the
indigent plaintiff made a reasonable attempt to obtain
counsel or been effectively precluded from doing so; and if
so, (2) given the difficulty of the case, does the plaintiff
appear competent to litigate it himself?” Pruitt v.
Mote, 503 F.3d 647, 654, 661 (7th Cir. 2007) (stating
that there is no presumption in favor of granting or denying
a motion for appointment of counsel and that each motion is
to be considered individually). In considering the competency
factor the court must determine “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.” Pruitt, 503
F.3d at 655 (stating that “[t]he question is not
whether a lawyer would present the case more effectively than
the pro se plaintiff; ‘if that were the test,
district judges would be required to request counsel for
every indigent litigant'”) (quoting Johnson v.
Doughty, 433 F.3d 1001, 1006 (7th Cir. 2006)); see
Moffett v. Strahota, 2019 WL 3781878, at *3 (7th Cir.
2019) (the court may conclude that it will not recruit
counsel if the plaintiff was otherwise competent and the case
was within his or her personal knowledge). The court may take
into consideration “the plaintiff's literacy,
communication skills, educational level, and litigation
experience” as well as other relevant and practical
information such as “intellectual capacity and
psychological history.” Pruitt, 503 F.3d at
655. Any evidence given in support of the request for
counsel, as well as that gleaned from the available pleadings
and other case communication at the time, should be reviewed
and considered. Pruitt, 503 F.3d at 655.
motion, Strub indicated that she is unable to afford an
attorney. She stated that she suffers from severe
post-traumatic stress disorder and has been deemed disabled.
Thus, her only source of income is the Social Security
disability benefits that she receives. She represents that
she has been unable to locate an attorney to represent her on
a contingency basis. However, she has not provided proof of
rejections from counsel.
the case docket reflects that Strub is literate and coherent.
Her complaint and motions are legible and understandable.
Given the early stages of the proceedings, the court finds
Strub is competent to present her case without the assistance
of counsel. However, the court has the discretion to revisit
the appointment of counsel if at any time in the proceedings
the plaintiff proves herself incompetent to litigate her own
claims. Pruitt, 503 F.3d at 658. If Strub renews her
request for appointment of counsel, she should give the court
rejection letters from at least three lawyers to prove that
she has made reasonable efforts to find a lawyer on her own.
In addition, she needs to explain why she believes this case