United States District Court, Northern District of Illinois
December 4, 2012
ELMER C. MCCULLOUGH (#2012-0525003)
COOK COUNTY JAIL, ET AL.
Name of Assigned Judge SHARON JOHNSON Sitting Judge if Other or Magistrate Judge COLEMAN than Assigned Judge
DOCKET ENTRY TEXT:
The plaintiff may proceed on his amended complaint. The clerk is directed to: (1) file the amended complaint; (2) terminate the Cook County Jail, Cermak Health Care, and the Moultrie County Jail as defendants pursuant to the amended complaint and Fed. R. Civ. P. 15; (3) add Officer Sassoon, Office Wagner, and Nurse Armstrong as defendants; (4) issue summonses for service on the defendants by the U.S. Marshal; and (5) send the plaintiff a magistrate judge consent form and filing instructions along with a copy of this order. The plaintiff's motion for appointment of counsel [#4] is denied, without prejudice.
O [For further details see text below.] Docketing to mail notices.
The plaintiff, an inmate in the custody of the Cook County Department of Corrections, has brought this pro se civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The plaintiff claims that the defendants, two correctional officials and a nurse at the jail, have violated the plaintiff's constitutional rights by acting with deliberate indifference to his serious medical needs. More specifically, the plaintiff alleges that he has been denied medication and accommodation for his epilepsy, resulting in seizures during which he has injured himself. The plaintiff has submitted an amended complaint as directed. See Minute Order of October 26, 2012.
Under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, the court is required to conduct a prompt initial review of prisoner complaints against governmental entities or employees. Here, accepting the plaintiff's factual allegations as true, the court finds that the amended complaint states a colorable cause of action under the Civil Rights Act. The Due Process Clause prohibits deliberate indifference to the serious medical needs of a pretrial detainee. Grieveson v. Anderson, 538 F.3d 763, 779 (7th Cir. 2008); Chapman v. Keltner, 241 F. 3d 842, 845 (7th Cir. 2001); but see Johnson v. Doughty, 433 F.3d 1001, 1017 (7th Cir. 2006) (inattention only to serious injury or signs of serious injury amounts to a constitutional violation). While a more fully developed record may belie the plaintiff's claims, the defendants must respond to the allegations in the amended complaint.
The clerk shall issue summonses for service of the amended complaint. 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. With respect to any former jail employee who can no longer be found at the work address provided by the plaintiff, the Cook County Department of Corrections and/or Cermak Health Services shall furnish the Marshal with the 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 is once again reminded that he 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.
Finally, the plaintiff's motion for appointment of counsel is denied. There is no constitutional or statutory right to counsel in federal civil cases. Romanelli v. Suliene, 615 F.3d 847, 851 (2010); see also Johnson v. Doughty, 433 F.3d 1001, 1006 (7th Cir. 2006). Nevertheless, the district court has discretion under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(1) to request counsel for an indigent litigant. Pruitt v. Mote, 503 F.3d 647, 654 (7th Cir. 2007), citing Johnson, 433 F.3d at 1006. When a pro se litigant submits a request for appointment of counsel, the court must first consider whether the indigent plaintiff has made reasonable attempts to secure counsel on his own, or conversely, if he has been precluded from doing so. Pruitt, 503 F.3d at 654. Next, the court must evaluate the complexity of the case and whether the plaintiff appears competent to litigate it on his own. Id. at 654-55. Another consideration is whether the assistance of counsel would provide a substantial benefit to the court or the parties, potentially affecting the outcome of the case. Id. at 654; Gil v. Reed, 381 F.3d 649, 656 (7th Cir. 2004); see also Local Rule 83.36(c) (N.D. Ill.) (listing the factors to be taken into account 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. In any event, although the complaint sets forth cognizable claims, the plaintiff has alleged no physical or mental disability that might preclude him from adequately investigating the facts giving rise to this action. Neither the legal issues raised in this case nor the evidence that might support the plaintiff's claims are so complex or intricate that a trained attorney is necessary. The plaintiff, whose submissions to date have been coherent and articulate, 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.
© 1992-2012 VersusLaw Inc.