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Wright v. Jones

United States District Court, Northern District of Illinois

August 12, 2010


Name of Assigned Judge BLANCHE M. MANNING Sitting Judge if Other or Magistrate Judge than Assigned Judge


The clerk is directed to: (1) add Officer Dennis and Officer Brown as defendants pursuant to the amended complaint; (2) issue summonses for service of the amended complaint on the defendants by the U.S. Marshal; and (3) send the plaintiff a Magistrate Judge Consent Form and Instructions for Submitting Documents along with a copy of this order. The plaintiff's motions for appointment of counsel [document nos. 4 and 8] are denied.

O [For further details see text below.] Docketing to mail notices.


The plaintiff, a state prisoner, has brought this pro se civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The plaintiff claims that the defendants, three Chicago police officers, violated the plaintiff's constitutional rights by falsely arresting him. As directed, the plaintiff has submitted an amended complaint providing additional factual information concerning the facts of his arrest.

Under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, the court is required to conduct a prompt threshold review of the amended complaint. Here, accepting the plaintiff's allegations as true, the court finds that the plaintiff has articulated a colorable federal cause of action against the defendants. The plaintiff contends that he was arrested for selling cocaine when the officers had, in fact, observed no controlled substance and no drug transaction. An arrest without probable cause violates the arrestee's Fourth Amendment rights. See, e.g., Mustafa v. City of Chicago, 442 F.3d 544, 547 (7th Cir. 2006). While a more fully developed record may belie the plaintiff's allegations, the defendants must respond to the amended complaint.

The clerk shall issue summons forthwith. The United States Marshals Service is appointed to serve the defendants. Any service forms necessary for the plaintiff to complete will be sent by the Marshal as appropriate to serve the defendants with process. The U.S. Marshal is directed to make all reasonable efforts to serve the defendants. If any officer can no longer be found at the work address provided by the plaintiff, the Chicago Police Department shall furnish the Marshal with that defendant's last-known address. The information shall be used only for purposes of effectuating service [or for proof of service, should a dispute arise] and any documentation of the address shall be retained only by the Marshal. Address information shall not be maintained in the court file, nor disclosed by the Marshal. The Marshal is authorized to mail a request for waiver of service to the defendants in the manner prescribed by Fed. R. Civ. P. 4(d)(2) before attempting personal service.

The plaintiff is instructed to file all future papers concerning this action with the Clerk of Court in care of the Prisoner Correspondent. The plaintiff must provide the court with the original plus a complete judge's copy, including any exhibits, of every document filed. In addition, the plaintiff must send an exact copy of any court filing to the defendants [or to defense counsel, once an attorney has entered an appearance on behalf of the defendants]. Every document filed with the court must include a certificate of service stating to whom exact copies were mailed and the date of mailing. Any paper that is sent directly to the judge or that otherwise fails to comply with these instructions may be disregarded by the court or returned to the plaintiff.

The plaintiff's motion for appointment of counsel is denied. Civil litigants do not have a constitutional or statutory right to counsel. See Johnson v. Doughty, 433 F.3d 1001, 1006 (7th Cir. 2006). Nevertheless, a district court may, in its discretion, "request an attorney to represent any person unable to afford counsel." Gil v. Reed, 381 F.3d 649, 656 (7th Cir. 2004), citing 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(1); Luttrell v. Nickel, 129 F.3d 933, 936 (7th Cir. 1997). In deciding whether to appoint counsel, the court must "first determine if the indigent has made reasonable efforts to retain counsel and was unsuccessful or that the indigent was effectively precluded from making such efforts." Gil, 381 F.3d at 656, quoting Jackson v. County of McLean, 953 F.2d 1070, 1072 (7th Cir. 1992). If so, the court must consider: (1) whether, given the degree of difficulty of the case, the plaintiff appears competent to try it himself; and (2) whether the assistance of counsel would provide a substantial benefit to the court or the parties, potentially affecting the outcome of the case. Pruitt v. Mote, 503 F.3d 647, 654 (7th Cir. 2007); Gil, 381 F.3d at 656; see also Local Rule 83.36(c) (N.D. Ill.) (listing the factors to be considered in determining whether to appoint counsel).

After considering the above factors, the court concludes that appointment of counsel is not warranted in this case. First, the plaintiff has failed to show either that he has made reasonable efforts to retain private counsel or that he has been effectively precluded from making such efforts. See Gil v. Reed, 381 F.3d 649, 656 (7th Cir. 2004), citing Jackson v. County of McLean, 953 F.2d 1070, 1072-73 (7th Cir. 1992). In any event, although the plaintiff has articulated colorable claims, he has alleged no physical or mental disability that might preclude him from adequately investigating the facts giving rise to his complaint. Neither the legal issues raised in the complaint nor the evidence that might support the plaintiff's claims are so complex or intricate that a trained attorney is necessary. The plaintiff appears more than capable of presenting his case. It should additionally be noted that the court grants pro se litigants wide latitude in the handling of their lawsuits. Therefore, the plaintiff's motion for appointment of counsel is denied at this time. Should the case proceed to a point that assistance of counsel is appropriate, the court may revisit this request.


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