The opinion of the court was delivered by: DAVID COAR, District Judge
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
This case comes before the Court on pro se Plaintiff Glen Delaney's
post-trial motion for a new trial. The motion is styled as a Rule 58
Motion, but it is more properly characterized as a Rule 59 Motion.*fn1
For the reasons set forth below, Plaintiff's Motion is denied.
FACTUAL & PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
In July 1998, Plaintiff Glen Delaney ("Plaintiff or "Delaney") filed a
pro se complaint under Section 1983, 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging that
the conditions of his incarceration at Stateville Correctional Center
violated his rights under the Eighth Amendment. Specifically, Plaintiff's
Complaint alleged that he was denied all opportunities for out-of-cell
exercise during a period of segregation confinement between April and
October of 1996. In February 2000, the Court, on its own motion,
appointed Edward Keidan to serve as Plaintiff's attorney in this case.
Later in 2000, the Defendants moved for summary judgment on Plaintiff's
complaint, Among the grounds they asserted for summary judgment was the
defense of qualified immunity. This Court denied the summary judgment
motion in all respects on November 2, 2000. The Defendants took an
interlocutory appeal on the qualified immunity issue. On appeal, the
Seventh Circuit affirmed the denial of summary judgment on the issue of
qualified immunity. See Delaney v. DeTella, 256 F.3d 679 (7th Cir.
2001). In so doing, the Seventh Circuit noted that "it may very well be
that the defendant guards have no liability here because they did not
establish the lockdown. If they had no discretion, then . . . only Warden
DeTella is a proper defendant." Id. at 687.
The Plaintiff proceeded to a jury trial on his Complaint in January
2003. At the close of trial, the Court granted Defendant's Motion for a
Directed Verdict against all the Defendants except the Warden, The
evidence conclusively demonstrated that the Defendant prison guards
lacked the discretion to alter the institutional lockdown that led to
Plaintiff's deprival of out-of-cell exercise. The jury returned a verdict
in favor of the remaining Defendant, Warden DeTella.
Plaintiff, acting pro se, filed a post-trial motion for a new trial.
The Court will treat the motion as a Rule 59 motion for a new trial.
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 59 permits a party to file a Motion for
New Trial within ten days of the judgment. Fed.R.Civ.Pro. 59(a),(b). The
party seeking relief under Rule 59(a) must show either that the jury's
verdict was "contrary to the manifest weight of the evidence," Cefalu v.
Village of Elk Grove, 211 F.3d 416, 424 (7th Cir. 2000), or that the
court committed a manifest error of law that rendered the trial unfair to
the moving party, see Mid-America
Tablewares, Inc. v. Mogi Trading Co., 100 F.3d 1353, 1367 (7th Cir.
Plaintiff recites a litany of objections in support of his motion for a
new trial. Plaintiff asserts that: (1) he was provided with inadequate
legal representation; (2) prejudicial errors occurred during jury
selection; (3) the Court made erroneous evidentiary rulings during trial;
(4) the Court erred in overruling Plaintiff's objection relating to the
presence of officers in the Courtroom; (5) the Court erred in its jury
instructions; and (6) the Court erred when it granted a directed verdict
to all Defendants except the Warden. The Court will address Plaintiff's
1. Inadequate Legal Representation
Plaintiff's motion registers multiple complaints about the conduct and
ability of Plaintiff's appointed attorney. "Civil litigants do not have a
right, either constitutional or statutory, to counsel." 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)). Under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e),
this Court is endowed with discretion to appoint counsel in cases where
it would serve the interests of justice to do so.
Alleged failures of appointed counsel would only be grounds for a new
trial if the failures were so abject as to render the trial fundamentally
unfair to the moving party. Counsel's alleged failures in this case did
not rise to that Himalayan height. Plaintiff may seek relief for the
failures of his counsel through a separate lawsuit for malpractice or for
breach of fiduciary duty, but counsel's alleged failures are not good
grounds for anew trial. See Geder v. Godinez, 221 F.3d 1338 (Table), 2000
WL 874804, at *2 (7th Cir. June 27, 2000) ("[the] sole avenue for his
malpractice claim against his appointed counsel `is a suit for
malpractice or for breach of
fiduciary duty,' Bell v. Eastman Kodak Co., No. 98-4142, 2000 WL 680353,
at *3 (7 th Cir. May 25, 2000)."
The portion of Plaintiff's Motion addressing the alleged failings of
his appointed counselis peppered with language that could sound of
judicial fraud or misconduct. For example, he asserts that his counsel
provided inadequate assistance "under the direct guidance, assistance and
aid of the Judge." (PI. Mot. at 2). After appointing an attorney to
represent the Plaintiff in this civil case, the Court took no part in
Plaintiff's representation. The Court was (and remains) unaware of any
undertakings that the Plaintiff's attorney may have performed on
Plaintiff's behalf other than the events transpiring in open court. To
the extent that Plaintiff's motion ...