Searching over 5,500,000 cases.

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Official citation and/or docket number and footnotes (if any) for this case available with purchase.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.


United States District Court, S.D. New York

November 7, 2005.

HENRY J. JAMES, Plaintiff,

The opinion of the court was delivered by: KEVIN FOX, Magistrate Judge


Henry J. James ("James") brought the above-captioned action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Through his complaint, James contends that, while he was held at the Greenhaven Correctional Facility, the defendants violated his civil rights by employing excessive force against him resulting in James' receiving, inter alia, injuries to his face, head and right knee. Thereafter, according to James, the defendants exhibited deliberate indifference to his medical needs by failing to treat the above-noted injuries timely and appropriately. James has requested that the Court appoint counsel to assist him in prosecuting this action. That application is addressed below.

Unlike criminal defendants, prisoners, such as plaintiff, and indigents filing civil actions have no constitutional right to counsel. However, 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(1) provides that the Court may request an attorney to represent any person unable to afford counsel. Plaintiff made an application to proceed in forma pauperis, which was granted. Therefore, he is within the class to whom 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(1) speaks. "In deciding whether to appoint counsel, [a] district court should first determine whether the indigent's position seems likely to be of substance." See Hodge v. Police Officers, 802 F.2d 58, 61 (2d Cir. 1986), cert denied, 502 U.S. 986, 112 S. Ct. 596 (1991). This means that it appears to the court "from the face of the pleadings," (see Stewart v. McMickens, 677 F. Supp. 226, 228 [S.D.N.Y. 1988]), that the claim(s) asserted by the plaintiff "may have merit," (see Vargas v. City of New York, No. 97 Civ. 8426, 1999 WL 486926, at *2 [S.D.N.Y. July 9, 1999]), or that "plaintiff appears to have some chance of success. . . ." See Hodge, 802 F.2d at 60-61.

  In the instant case, the plaintiff has alleged that his constitutional rights were violated by unwarranted attacks upon him by corrections officers and that their supervisors, who were duty-bound to ensure the plaintiff's security and safety failed to protect him against the attacks. The plaintiff contends that, as a result of the conduct of corrections personnel, he sustained injuries to, inter alia, his head, face and right knee which caused him pain and impaired his ability to climb stairs to enter his assigned sleeping quarters. In his complaint, the plaintiff also alleges that he was deprived of appropriate medical treatment. Furthermore, James notes in his complaint that he employed, unsuccessfully, the administrative procedures made available by the state corrections agency to address the issues that are the subject of this action.

  While it appears from the face of the plaintiff's complaint that his claims may have merit, the Court has considered: 1) the plaintiff's ability to investigate the facts pertinent to this action; 2) whether conflicting evidence implicating the need for cross-examination will be the major proof presented to the fact-finder; 3) the plaintiff's ability to present the case; 4) the complexity of the legal issues; and 5) any special reason in this case why appointment of counsel would be more likely to lead to a just determination. See Hodge, 802 F.2d at 61-62. The plaintiff's complaint is detailed in nature. It describes the events that led to the alleged assaults upon the plaintiff. Furthermore, it identifies the persons whom the plaintiff contends participated in the assaults. In like manner, the complaint sets forth the medical treatment the plaintiff received and his contention that his treatment was inadequate. The details contained in the complaint suggest that investigating the claims made in the instant action will not be a complicated exercise for the plaintiff.

  While cross-examination may play a significant role in the trial of this action, the care with which the plaintiff has explained the facts and circumstances surrounding the assaults the alleges occurred, and the degree of medical attention he received, indicates to the Court that the plaintiff will be able to frame questions to elicit responses pertinent to the prosecution of the action. In addition, the legal issues that confront the parties in this action are not complex. They involve the degree of force, if any, employed upon James and the quantity and quality of the medical care afforded to him. The plaintiff has demonstrated an understanding of the legal issues that confront the parties in this case, as evidenced by his complaint.

  Under the circumstances, having considered the Hodge factors referenced above, the Court finds that the appointment of counsel is not warranted in order for a just determination to be reached in this action.



© 1992-2005 VersusLaw Inc.

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Official citation and/or docket number and footnotes (if any) for this case available with purchase.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.