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RODRIGUEZ v. CITY OF NEW YORK

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

ORDER

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 declaration.

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 proceedings.

  Accordingly, the application is denied without prejudice to renewal in the event the complaint survives dispositive motions.

  SO ORDERED.

20040608

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