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Stewart v. Walker

May 2, 2006


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Harold A. Baker United States District Judge


The plaintiff, Brian Stewart, originally submitted his complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §1983 naming twenty-two defendants from four different correctional facilities. The thirty-five page handwritten complaint did not clearly delineate specific claims against any of the named defendants. In addition, the plaintiff had attached hundreds of pages of documents to his complaint.

On October 19, 2005, the court conducted a merit review of the plaintiff's complaint. The plaintiff participated in the hearing by video conferencing. The court found that the complaint and attached documents were a violation of Rule 8 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. The court then attempted to identify the plaintiff's intended claims. Although the plaintiff was well-spoken, he clearly needed additional time to more specifically state his claims.

The plaintiff's main contention was that the defendants violated his Eighth Amendment rights when they were deliberately indifferent to his serious medical needs. The plaintiff stated that he was seen by a psychiatrist who said the plaintiff should be in a mental health facility and should receive mental health treatment. The plaintiff says he was repeatedly transferred from one correctional facility to the next, placed in the general population and did not receive the prescribed treatment. As a result, the plaintiff states he attempted to hang himself and injured himself. However, the plaintiff's complaint did not state how each defendant was involved, the time frame involved nor where he was housed at the time of the events. The defendants would not have been able to provide a response to the complaint.

In an effort to help the plaintiff more specifically state his claims, the court provided the plaintiff with questions about his allegations and instructed the plaintiff to answer the questions. The plaintiff was admonished that he must provide his responses to the specific questions on or before November 7, 2005 and no continuances would be granted. See October 19, 2005 Court Order.

The plaintiff has ignored the court's instructions and instead filed numerous motions with the court after the specified deadline.


The plaintiff filed a motion asking for the court to make a correction in the docket. The plaintiff says the docket refers to him as Brian Duane Stewart. The plaintiff says "Duane" is not his middle name and should be stricken. [d/e 9] The motion is granted. The clerk of the court is directed to remove any reference to a middle name for this plaintiff, and instead refer to him as Brian Stewart.

The plaintiff filed several motions for a temporary restraining order and asking for expedited relief for his claims. [d/e 11, 16, 20, 25, 28] The plaintiff is asking for mental health treatment and care. The motions are denied. The plaintiff has failed to follow the specific court order asking him to clearly identify his claims. The plaintiff must follow specific orders of this court if he wishes to pursue this litigation. In addition, the plaintiff has attached documentation to each of his motions demonstrating that he is receiving mental health care and treatment.

The plaintiff has also filed an improper "motion in limine." [d/e 26]. The plaintiff states the Illinois Department of Corrections (Herein I.D.O.C) is refusing to provide the first name of a defendant or current addresses. First, the plaintiff may not proceed with this litigation until his claims are clearly identified. Again, the plaintiff cannot ignore the specific orders of this court. Second, if the plaintiff does successfully identify his claims, this information will be provided to the court for service of process upon the defendants. The motion is denied.

The plaintiff has also filed several additional motions for appointment of counsel. [d/e 14, 19, 27]. The plaintiff says he cannot adequately represent himself and has "mental health issues." (Plain. Motions) The plaintiff also says he is being denied mental health treatment and medication. The plaintiff has provided hundreds of pages of documents to the court with each of his filings. All show that he is repeatedly seen in the Health Care Unit and has been seen by psychiatrists. The plaintiff does not state what specific "mental health issues" he suffers from, but it is clear that he is at times suicidal and has inflicted injury upon himself. The only diagnosis in the documents submitted by the plaintiff state that he has a history of alcohol and drug abuse, and has a borderline personality disorder. There are also notations that the plaintiff suffers from no major on going psychiatric symptoms.

The plaintiff has no constitutional or statutory right to be represented by an attorney. In deciding whether to appoint counsel in a particular case, the court must determine whether the plaintiff is competent to represent himself given the complexity of the case, and if he is not, whether the presence of counsel would make a difference in the outcome of the lawsuit. Farmer v. Haas, 990 F.2d 319, 322 (7th Cir.1993). In addition, the court is reluctant to appoint counsel in the beginning stages of a lawsuit until it is determined that the plaintiff has a meritorious claim.

Lawyers who accept appointments to represent pro se plaintiffs in civil cases are not guaranteed any compensation. Thus, before this court takes the significant step of seeking out a lawyer willing to take the case, the court has an obligation to insure that the issues raised in a particular case are both substantial and meritorious. Further, the number of lawyers able to take court appointments is very limited.

Thus, it is simply impossible to accommodate all of the requests of pro se plaintiffs, mostly prisoners, who request a lawyer. King v. Frank, 328 F. ...

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