United States District Court, S.D. New York
June 8, 2004.
ADA RODRIGUEZ, et ano., Plaintiffs, -against- THE CITY OF NEW YORK, et al., Defendants
The opinion of the court was delivered by: LEWIS KAPLAN, District Judge
Plaintifffs have submitted a lengthy declaration in support of a
request to proceed in forma pauperis and for assigned counsel. Although
they have not filed a motion for that relief, the Court so treats the
A grant of in forma pauperis status merely permits "the commencement,
prosecution or defense of any suit . . . without prepayment of fees or
security therefor." As plaintiffs paid the filing fee when the action was
commenced, leave to proceed in forma pauperis would not relieve them of
any burden they now face. Moreover, plaintiffs have not filed the
affidavit required by the statute. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(1).
The Court of course may request an attorney to represent any person
unable to afford counsel. Id. § 1915(e)(1). Such requests, however, must
be made with care, as the number of attorneys willing to undertake pro
bono representation of indigent civil litigants is extremely limited. The
factors pertinent to the exercise of the Court's discretion in this
regard include the nature of the factual issues the claim presents, the
plaintiffs' apparent ability to present the case, and the apparent merits
of the claim. Hodge v. Police Officers, 802 F.2d 58, 61-62 (2d Cir.
1986). The threshold requirement is that the claim appear to have merit
Burgos v. Hopkins, 14 F.3d 787, 789 (2d Cir. 1994); Cooper v. A. Sargenti
Co, 877 F.2d 170, 172-73 (1989); Hodge, 802 F.2d at 60-61; see also
Hendricks v. Coughlin, 114 F.3d 390 (2d Cir. 1997).
In this case, it appears that the plaintiffs judging by their papers
are either extremely articulate and intelligent individuals or already
have the assistance of a person with legal training. Their ability to
present the case exceeds that of virtually all pro se litigants. Nor, at
least at this stage, does the case appear to have great merit, although
the Court of course suspends any ultimate judgment pending further
Accordingly, the application is denied without prejudice to renewal in
the event the complaint survives dispositive motions.
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