IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF ILLINOIS EASTERN DIVISION
July 17, 2008
DOROTHY MURPHY, PLAINTIFF,
FAIRMONT CARE CENTER, DEFENDANT.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Milton I. Shadur Senior United States District Judge
So far as this Court is aware, this District Court is unique among the federal courts around the country in having established a pro bono program (set out in our LR 83.35 through 83.41) under which members of the trial bar are required--by reason of their membership--to accept appointments to represent pro se litigants in appropriate cases. This Court's regular practice is to screen pro se complaints in the first instance to determine whether they set out any non-frivolous claims (without, of course, attempting to engage in a substantive evaluation of the credibility of those claims) and, if the answer is "Yes" and if a properly supported Motion for Appointment of Counsel ("Motion") has been submitted by the pro se plaintiff, to grant the Motion pretty much as a matter of course.*fn1
In this instance this Court appointed J. Matthew Pfeiffer, Esq. ("Pfeiffer") to represent Dorothy Murphy ("Murphy"), who had originally filed a self-prepared Complaint of Employment Discrimination ("self-prepared" in the sense that she had used the form provided by the Clerk's Office and filled in the requested information in handwriting). But less than two months later attorney Pfeiffer found himself compelled to file a Motion for Relief from Appointment as Counsel--and even though he had given Murphy more than two weeks' advance notice of that motion's July 10, 2008 presentment date via both ordinary mail and certified mail, and even though Murphy had then told counsel that she would appear in court on July 10, she did not do so. This Court accordingly granted Pfeiffer's motion,*fn2 but Murphy's absence obviously made it impossible to ascertain her plans for proceeding with her lawsuit.
Now Murphy has filled out and submitted (in each instance again using forms provided by the Clerk's Office) a new Motion together with a supporting In Forma Pauperis Application. Under LR 83.38(b) this Court is vested with discretion either to appoint a second counsel for Murphy or not to issue a further order of appointment. Given the circumstances described in Pfeiffer's motion, the latter course is clearly preferable (among other reasons because it would be unfair to inflict, on some other member of the trial bar, the risk of becoming the target of similar charges). Murphy is of course permitted to proceed with her action pro se, as LR 83.38(b) provides.