United States District Court, S.D. Illinois
MARLON L. WATFORD, #R-15678, Plaintiff,
THOMAS LaFOND, SARAH WOOLEY, KIMBERLY BUTLER, LYNETTE COLVIS, OFFICER SEVERS, SERGEANT BRADLEY, OFFICER ROSE, JOHN R. BALDWIN, and UNKNOWN PARTIES, Defendants.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
MICHAEL J. REAGAN Chief Judge United States District Judge
pro se, Plaintiff Marlon Watford filed the instant
civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 on
August 24, 2016. (Doc. 1). In the Complaint, Plaintiff set
forth numerous unrelated federal and state law claims against
officers at Menard Correctional Center
(“Menard”). (Doc. 1). On November 2, 2016, the
Court dismissed the Complaint for violating the Federal Rules
of Civil Procedure. (Doc. 8). The dismissal was without
prejudice, and Plaintiff was granted leave to file a First
Amended Complaint on or before November 30, 2016. (Doc. 8, p.
before the deadline, Plaintiff filed a Motion for Extension
of Time to File First Amended Complaint. (Doc. 11). He
requested an additional 150 days to prepare the amended
complaint. Id. The Court granted Plaintiff an
additional 30 days, after explaining that this matter would
not be allowed to linger indefinitely. (Doc. 12). Under the
extended deadline, the First Amended Complaint was due on or
before December 30, 2016. Id.
December 23, 2016, Plaintiff filed a “Motion to Object,
Motion to Spread the Record, and Motion for
Reconsideration.” (Doc. 13). The motion included
requests for reconsideration of the Order Dismissing
Complaint (Doc. 8), the (non-existent) decision to deny
Plaintiff counsel, and the decision to grant Plaintiff a
30-day extension of the deadline for filing an amended
complaint (Doc. 12). The Court found no reason to grant the
motion for reconsideration of its Order Dismissing Complaint
(Doc. 8), and Plaintiff offered none. (Doc. 14). The Court
also pointed out that Plaintiff did not actually request
assistance in recruiting counsel, and the Court therefore did
not deny his request. Id. At the same time, the
Clerk was directed to provide Plaintiff with a form for use
in making this request. Id. In addition, the Court
granted Plaintiff's second request for an extension of
the deadline to file his amended complaint. Id.
Under the second extended deadline, the First Amended
Complaint was due on or before January 30, 2017. Id.
December 29, 2016, Plaintiff filed yet another Motion for
Extension of Time to Amend Complaint. (Doc. 15). He did not
request the Court's assistance in recruiting counsel on
his behalf. In fact, Plaintiff indicated that he intended to
prepare his own amended complaint. Plaintiff again requested
an additional 150 days to do so. (Doc. 15, p. 4). Because it
appeared that Plaintiff filed this request before receiving
the Court's order granting his second motion for
extension, the Court denied it as moot. (Doc. 16). The
deadline for filing the First Amended Complaint remained
January 30, 2017. Id.
missed the deadline for filing his First Amended Complaint on
January 30, 2017. He failed to request an extension of this
deadline. More than a week has passed since the First Amended
Complaint was due under the second extended deadline. The
Court has already allowed Plaintiff 3 months to file his
First Amended Complaint and will not allow this matter to
this action shall be dismissed with prejudice based on
Plaintiff's failure to comply with three Orders of this
Court (Docs. 8, 14, 16) and his failure to prosecute his
claims. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 41(b); Ladien v.
Astrachan, 128 F.3d 1051 (7th Cir. 1997); Johnson v.
Kamminga, 34 F.3d 466 (7th Cir. 1994). However, the
dismissal will not count as one of Plaintiff's
three allotted “strikes” within the meaning of 28
U.S.C. § 1915(g).
1. Motion for Recruitment of Counsel (Doc.
filed a Motion for Recruitment of Counsel for the first time
on January 27, 2017. (Doc. 17). Although he was provided with
this Court's standard form motion pursuant to the Order
dated December 27, 2016 (Doc. 14), he chose to file a
handwritten motion instead. (Doc. 17). Plaintiff cites the
following reasons for his request: (1) his unsuccessful
attempts to secure counsel on his own; (2) his appointment of
counsel in other cases; and (3) the complexity of his
constitutional claims in this case. Id.
is no constitutional or statutory right to counsel in federal
civil cases. Romanelli v. Suliene, 615 F.3d 847, 851
(7th Cir. 2010); see also Johnson v. Doughty, 433
F.3d 1001, 1006 (7th Cir. 2006). But see Ray v. Wexford
Health Sources, Inc., 706 F.3d 864, 866-67 (7th Cir.
2013) (district court has discretion under 28 U.S.C. §
1915(e)(1) to recruit counsel for an indigent litigant). When
a pro se litigant submits a request for assistance
of counsel, the Court considers whether the indigent
plaintiff has made reasonable attempts to secure counsel on
his own and, if so, whether the factual and legal difficulty
of the case exceeds the Plaintiff's capacity to
coherently present it. Navejar v. Iyiola, 718 F.3d
692, 696 (7th Cir. 2013) (citing Pruitt v. Mote, 503
F.3d 647, 654-55 (7th Cir. 2007)). The Court also considers
such factors as the Plaintiff's “literacy,
communication skills, education level, and litigation
experience.” Pruitt, 503 F.3d at 655.
initial matter, Plaintiff has not demonstrated sufficient
efforts to secure representation in this case. Plaintiff
asserts that he sent 30 letters to attorneys seeking
representation and received written responses from only 3
prior to commencing this action. Plaintiff attached the 3
responses to his motion. None of them refer to this case.
They are dated March or May 2016, long before he filed this
action in late August. (Doc. 17, pp. 9-11). At the time,
Plaintiff was proceeding pro se in at least one
other matter and was also in the process of preparing an
amended complaint for filing in that case. See Watford v.
Doe, et al., Case No. 15-cv-09540 (N.D. Ill. 2015). He
failed to provide the Court with copies of his 30 letters
requesting representation. Counsel was ultimately recruited
on his behalf in the prior case during the same time period.
This was 9 months before he filed his motion for recruitment
of counsel in this case. Under the circumstances, the Court
cannot determine whether Plaintiff attempted to retain
counsel in this case or another pending matter.
the Court cannot assess Plaintiff's ability to
competently litigate this matter on his own because Plaintiff
omitted information from his handwritten motion that is
relevant to the Court's analysis. Id. In his
handwritten motion, Plaintiff offers no information regarding
his level of education, language difficulties, medical
issues, and mental health issues. In addition, the Court
cannot assess the complexity of the case because
Plaintiff's original Complaint does not focus on a single
set of related claims. It refers to numerous, unrelated
claims against different defendants. The Court cannot
determine which of these claims Plaintiff intends to pursue
going forward and whether he possesses the skills necessary
to represent himself. Without this information, the Court
cannot fully analyze the difficulty of Plaintiff's case
or his ability to proceed pro se. Under the
circumstances, the Motion for Recruitment of Counsel (Doc.
17) shall be DENIED.
Motion for Substitution ...