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United States District Court, S.D. New York

June 28, 2004.


The opinion of the court was delivered by: RONALD ELLIS, Magistrate Judge



On December 22, 2003, pro se plaintiff Shoulan Chang ("Chang") filed a complaint against defendant Safe Horizons alleging violations of her rights under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 ("Title VII"), as amended, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq. On March 22, 2004, Chang filed an application requesting to proceed in forma pauperis, and requesting appointment of counsel. For the reasons which follow, both requests are DENIED.


  On August 30, 2000, Chang filed a complaint with the New York City Commission on Human Rights ("Commission") and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). See Complaint ("Comp.") at ¶ 8. Chang alleges that Safe Horizons, her former employer, discriminated against her because of her race and national origin. Id. Chang also alleges that on August 4, 2000, Safe Horizons terminated her employment with its multilingual immigrant hotline for protesting the defendant's discriminatory practices. Id. III. DISCUSSION

  Civil litigants, unlike criminal defendants, do not have a constitutional right to the appointment of counsel. However, under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(1), "[t]he court may request an attorney to represent any person unable to afford counsel." The Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit has articulated the factors that a court should consider in deciding whether to appoint counsel for an indigent civil litigant. A court "exercises substantial discretion, subject to the requirement that it be guided by sound legal principle." Cooper v. A. Sargenti Co., 877 F.2d 170, 172 (2d Cir. 1989) (citing Jenkins v. Chemical Bank, 721 F.2d 876, 879 (2d Cir. 1983)).

  The Court's first inquiry is whether plaintiff can afford to obtain counsel. See Terminate Control Corp. v. Horowitz, 28 F.3d 1335, 1341 (2d Cir. 1994). If the court finds that a plaintiff cannot afford counsel, it must then examine the merits of the case and determine whether the indigent's position "seems likely to be of substance." Hodge v. Police Officers, 802 F.2d 58, 61-62 (2d Cir. 1986). After the two threshold determinations have been made as to indigence and merit, the court has discretion to consider the following factors: (1) the indigent's ability to investigate the crucial facts; (2) whether conflicting evidence implicating the need for cross-examination will be the major proof presented to the fact finder; (3) the indigent's ability to present the case; (4) the complexity of the legal issues involved; and (5) any special reason in that case why appointment of counsel would be more likely to lead to a just determination. Id. at 61-62.

  Here, Chang's request to proceed in forma pauperis is DENIED. Based on the information supplied in her request, she does not satisfy the threshold requirement of indigence. Chang indicates that she is presently employed at a monthly salary of $2,400, and has $8,000 in a bank account. With regard to her application requesting counsel, she has demonstrated that she is capable of presenting the facts clearly and drafting pleadings and motions backed by legal research. Furthermore, this case does not present novel and overly complex issues. After careful review of Chang's application in light of the aforementioned principles, the Court finds that appointment of counsel is not warranted at this time. The motion is DENIED without prejudice. Further, upon further application by plaintiff, and with good cause shown,

(1) the deadline for discovery is extended to July 30, 2004;
  (2) the parties meet and confer on document requests before the discovery deadline.



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