United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division
November 3, 2005.
ANGEL THOMAS, et al., Plaintiffs,
CITY OF HARVEY, et al., Defendants.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: MILTON SHADUR, Senior District Judge
This Court's July 20, 2005 memorandum order (a copy of which is
attached) took the unusual step of deferring action on the In
Forma Pauperis Application ("Application") that had been filed by
Angel and Jacqueline Thomas ("Thomases") "because it is
extraordinarily difficult to tell from Thomases' lengthy and
sprawling narrative whether any viable federal claim can be
teased out of its assertions." After two false starts in seeking
to obtain pro bono counsel from this District Court's trial bar
to represent Thomases, Christopher Sheean of the Wildman, Harrold
firm was appointed to do so. At the October 25, 2005 status
hearing attorney Sheean, who has obviously given serious
consideration to Thomases' claims, advised that he is planning to
file an amended complaint on their behalf and has therefore held
off on serving the defendants (and thus triggering their
obligations to file responsive pleadings) until he does so. This
Court then set a next status hearing time and date for 9 a.m.
December 20, 2005. Under the circumstances this Court grants the Application.
Because it is doing so in the absence of the Thomases' amended
complaint, this action is being taken without prejudice to its
possible reconsideration as and when that amended complaint is
forthcoming. MEMORANDUM ORDER
Angel and Jacqueline Thomas ("Thomases") have submitted a
lengthy handwritten Complaint against the City of Harvey, Fox 32
News and the City of Dolton, coupled with an In Forma Pauperis
Application ("Application") and a Motion for Appointment of
Counsel ("Motion").*fn1 Although Thomases have made a proper
showing of their inability to pay the $250 filing fee, any
granting of in forma pauperis status also requires that the
plaintiffs advance some non-frivolous claim in the legal sense
defined by Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 325 (1989) and
refined in Denton v. Hernandez, 504 U.S. 25, 32-33 (1992). That
poses a problem here, because it is extraordinarily difficult to
tell from Thomases' lengthy and sprawling narrative whether any
viable federal claim can be teased out of its assertions.
Under the circumstances the best resolution appears to be to
defer ruling on the Application at this time, but to grant the motion even though Thomases have not provided the information
requested in the Motion as to their efforts to retain counsel on
their own. That course of action is preferable to denial of the
Application, because the Complaint begins by referring to an
August 8, 2003 incident that could be barred by limitations as a
basis for a possible 42 U.S.C. § 1983 claim if the case were not
Accordingly the pro bono counsel appointed from this District
Court's trial bar to represent Thomases is:
Barry E. Fields, Esq.
Kirkland & Ellis
200 East Randolph Drive
Chicago IL 60601
This matter is set for a status hearing at 9 a.m. on August 22,
2005, at which time appointed counsel will be expected to apprise
this Court as to whether, based on counsel's conference with
Thomases and any appropriate research, any colorable federal
claim appears to exist here.
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