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Hart v. Mount

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

September 1, 2017

JOSHUA JAMES HART, Plaintiff,
v.
JAMES MOUNT, et al., Defendants.

          ORDER

          DONALD G. WILKERSON, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Now pending before the Court are the motions for recruitment of counsel (Docs. 2, 10) and the motion for preliminary injunctive relief (Doc. 14) filed by Plaintiff. The motions for recruitment of counsel are DENIED WITHOUT PREJUDICE and the motion for preliminary injunctive relief is TAKEN UNDER ADVISEMENT.

         Plaintiff has no constitutional nor statutory right to a Court-appointed attorney in this matter. See Pruitt v. Mote, 503 F.3d 647, 649 (7th Cir. 2007). However, 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(1) provides that the Court “may request an attorney to represent any person unable to afford counsel.” Prior to making such a request, the Court must first determine whether Plaintiff has made reasonable efforts to secure counsel without Court intervention (or whether has he been effectively prevented from doing so). Jackson v. County of McLean, 953 F.2d 1070, 1073 (7th Cir. 1992). If he has, then the Court next considers whether, “given the difficulty of the case, [does] the plaintiff appear to be competent to try it himself . . . .” Farmer v. Haas, 990 F.2d 319, 321-322 (7th Cir. 1993); Pruitt, 503 F.3d at 655 (“the question is whether the difficulty of the case - factually and legally - exceeds the particular plaintiff's capacity as a layperson to coherently present it to the judge or jury himself.”). In order to make such a determination, the Court may consider, among other things, the complexity of the issues presented and the Plaintiff's education, skill, and experience as revealed by the record. Pruitt, 503 F.3d at 655-656. Ultimately, the Court must “take account of all [relevant] evidence in the record” and determine whether Plaintiff has the capacity to litigate this matter without the assistance of counsel. Navejar v. Iyiola, 718 F.3d 692, 696 (7th Cir. 2013).

         Plaintiff represents that he wrote letters to “civil attorneys” but that no responses were given. Such a representation is an insufficient showing that he tried to obtain counsel prior to filing his motion. Plaintiff shall either provide a copy of the letters that he sent to the “civil attorneys” or he shall contact at least three attorneys in an attempt to seek representation in this matter. Plaintiff may refile his motion for recruitment of counsel provided he attach the letters that he sent to the attorneys and any responses he receives (if any).

         As to preliminary injunctive relief, Plaintiff has not provided sufficient information or argument to warrant such relief at this juncture. Plaintiff is informed that a preliminary injunction is an “extraordinary and drastic remedy” for which there must be a “clear showing” that Plaintiff is entitled to relief. Mazurek v. Armstrong, 520 U.S. 968, 972 (1997) (quoting 11A Charles Alan Wright, Arthur R Miller, & Mary Kay Kane, Federal Practice and Procedure §2948 (5th ed. 1995)). The purpose of such an injunction is “to minimize the hardship to the parties pending the ultimate resolution of the lawsuit.” Faheem-El v. Klincar, 841 F.2d 712, 717 (7th Cir. 1988). Plaintiff has the burden of demonstrating:

1. a reasonable likelihood of success on the merits;
2. no adequate remedy at law; and
3. irreparable harm absent the injunction.

Planned Parenthood v. Commissioner of Indiana State Dept. Health, 699 F.3d 962, 972 (7th Cir. 2012). As to the first hurdle, the Court must determine whether “plaintiff has any likelihood of success - in other words, a greater than negligible chance of winning.” AM General Corp. v. DaimlerChrysler Corp. , 311 F.3d 796, 804 (7th Cir. 2002). Once Plaintiff has met his burden, the Court must weigh “the balance of harm to the parties if the injunction is granted or denied and also evaluate the effect of an injunction on the public interest.” Id.; Korte v. Sebelius, 735 F.3d 654, 665 (7th Cir. 2013). “This equitable balancing proceeds on a sliding-scale analysis; the greater the likelihood of success of the merits, the less heavily the balance of harms must tip in the moving party's favor.” Korte, 735 F.3d at 665. In addition, the Prison Litigation Reform Act provides that a preliminary injunction must be “narrowly drawn, extend no further than necessary to correct the harm . . ., ” and “be the least intrusive means necessary to correct that harm.” 18 U.S.C. § 3626(a)(2). Finally, pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 65(d)(2), a preliminary injunction would bind only the parties, their officers or agents, or persons in active concert with the parties or their agents.

         Plaintiff is DIRECTED to file a brief as to why he is entitled to preliminary injunctive relief in the areas outlined in his amended complaint (regarding training of prison employees). Plaintiff shall file his brief by September 29, 2017. Plaintiff is WARNED that the failure to file a brief by ...


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