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Rogers v. Anderson

United States District Court, Western District of Tennessee

February 13, 2015

FREDERICK B. ROGERS, Plaintiff,
v.
BLAKE ANDERSON, et al., Defendants.

ORDER DENYING MOTION FOR SPEEDY TRIAL (ECF No. 4) ORDER DENYING MOTION FOR APPOINTMENT OF COUNSEL (ECF No. 7) ORDER OF DISMISSAL ORDER CERTIFYING APPEAL NOT TAKEN IN GOOD FAITH AND ORDER DENYING LEAVE TO PROCEED IN FORMA PAUPERIS ON APPEAL

JAMES D. TODD, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

Plaintiff Frederick B. Rogers, an inmate at the Madison County Criminal Justice Complex in Jackson, Tennessee, filed a pro se complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § l983, accompanied by a motion seeking leave to proceed in forma pauperis. (ECF No. 3.) In an order issued on August 18, 2014, the Court granted leave to proceed in forma pauperis and assessed the civil filing fee pursuant to the Prison Litigation Reform Act of 1996 (“PLRA”), 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(a)-(b). On October 10, October 20, and October 22, 2014, Plaintiff filed amended complaints. The Clerk shall record the defendants as the City Court Judge Blake Anderson, Assistant District Attorney Arron Chapman, and Public Defender April Knight.

On August 15, 2014, Plaintiff filed a motion for speedy trial. (ECF No. 4.) The motion is DENIED as moot.

On September 9, 2014, Plaintiff filed a motion seeking the appointment of counsel. (ECF No. 7.) Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(1), “[t]he court may request an attorney to represent any person unable to afford counsel.” However, “[t]he appointment of counsel in a civil proceeding is not a constitutional right.” Lanier v. Bryant, 332 F.3d 999, 1006 (6th Cir. 2003); see also Shepherd v. Wellman, 313 F.3d 963, 970 (6th Cir. 2002) (“[T]he plaintiffs were not entitled to have counsel appointed because this is a civil lawsuit.”); Lavado v. Keohane, 992 F.2d 601, 605-06 (6th Cir. 1993) (no constitutional right to counsel in a civil case); Farmer v. Haas, 990 F.2d 319, 323 (7th Cir. 1993) (“There is no constitutional or . . . statutory right to counsel in federal civil cases . . . .”). Appointment of counsel is “a privilege that is justified only by exceptional circumstances.” Lavado, 992 F.2d at 606 (internal quotation marks & citation omitted). “In determining whether ‘exceptional circumstances’ exist, courts have examined the type of case and the abilities of the plaintiff to represent himself. This generally involves a determination of the complexity of the factual and legal issues involved.” Id. at 606 (internal quotation marks & citations omitted). Appointment of counsel is not appropriate when a pro se litigant’s claims are frivolous or when his chances of success are extremely slim. Id. (citing Mars v. Hanberry, 752 F.2d 254, 256 (6th Cir. 1985)); see also Cleary v. Mukasey, 307 F. App’x 963, 965 (6th Cir. 2009) (same). Plaintiff’s complaint is to be dismissed. The motion for appointment of counsel is DENIED.

The complaint and amended complaints allege that Plaintiff appeared before Judge Blake Anderson in Jackson’s City Court on July 1, 2014. He was represented by Public Defender April Knight. Assistant District Attorney Arron Chapman prosecuted the case. Plaintiff alleges that he asked for new counsel, but Judge Anderson denied his motion. Therefore, he had to represent himself at his preliminary hearing. He was allegedly not provided with any discovery, and his motion to suppress was denied. He was not given “a proper chance” to present his case and was found guilty. Judge Anderson dismissed his appeal without having a hearing. Plaintiff seeks the “overturnment” of his sentence and monetary damages.

The Court is required to screen prisoner complaints and to dismiss any complaint, or any portion thereof, if the complaint-

(1) is frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted; or
(2) seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief.

28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b); see also 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B).

In assessing whether the complaint in this case states a claim on which relief may be granted, the standards under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6), as stated in Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 677-79, (2009), and in Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555-57 (2007), are applied. Hill v. Lappin, 630 F.3d 468, 470-71 (6th Cir. 2010). “Accepting all well-pleaded allegations in the complaint as true, the Court ‘consider[s] the factual allegations in [the] complaint to determine if they plausibly suggest an entitlement to relief.’” Williams v. Curtin, 631 F.3d 380, 383 (6th Cir. 2011) (quoting Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 681, 129 S.Ct. at 1951) (alteration in original). “[P]leadings that . . . are no more than conclusions . . . are not entitled to the assumption of truth. While legal conclusions can provide the framework of a complaint, they must be supported by factual allegations.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679; see also Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555 n.3 (“Rule 8(a)(2) still requires a ‘showing, ’ rather than a blanket assertion, of entitlement to relief. Without some factual allegation in the complaint, it is hard to see how a claimant could satisfy the requirement of providing not only ‘fair notice’ of the nature of the claim, but also ‘grounds’ on which the claim rests.”).

“A complaint can be frivolous either factually or legally. See Neitzke [v. Williams], 490 U.S. [319, ] 325 [(1989)]. Any complaint that is legally frivolous would ipso facto fail to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. See Id. at 328-29.” Hill, 630 F.3d at 470.

Whether a complaint is factually frivolous under §§ 1915A(b)(1) and 1915(e)(2)(B)(i) is a separate issue from whether it fails to state a claim for relief. Statutes allowing a complaint to be dismissed as frivolous give “judges not only the authority to dismiss a claim based on an indisputably meritless legal theory, but also the unusual power to pierce the veil of the complaint’s factual allegations and dismiss those claims whose factual contentions are clearly baseless.” Neitzke, 490 U.S. at 327 (interpreting 28 U.S.C. § 1915). Unlike a dismissal for failure to state a claim, where a judge must accept all factual allegations as true, Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. at 1949-50, a judge ...

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