United States District Court, S.D. New York
GREGORY H. WOODS, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
has filed an Application for the Court to Request Counsel.
Dkt. No. 43. For the following reasons, Plaintiff 's
application is denied.
in forma pauperis statute provides that the courts
“may request an attorney to represent any person unable
to afford counsel.” 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(1). Unlike
in criminal cases, in civil cases, there is no requirement
that courts supply indigent litigants with counsel. Hodge
v. Police Officers, 802 F.2d 58, 60 (2d Cir. 1986).
Instead, the courts have “broad discretion” when
deciding whether to grant an indigent litigant's request
for representation. Id. Even if a court does believe
that a litigant should have a lawyer, under the in forma
pauperis statute, a court has no authority to
“appoint” counsel, but instead, may only
“request” that an attorney volunteer to represent
a litigant. Mallard v. U.S. Dist. Court for the S. Dist.
of Iowa, 490 U.S. 296, 301-310 (1989). Moreover, courts
do not have funds to pay counsel in civil matters. Courts
must therefore grant applications for counsel sparingly, and
with reference to public benefit, in order to preserve the
“precious commodity” of volunteer- lawyer time
for those litigants whose causes are truly deserving.
Cooper v. A. Sargenti Co., Inc., 877 F.2d 170,
172-73 (2d Cir. 1989).
Hodge, the Second Circuit set forth the factors a
court should consider in deciding whether to grant a
litigant's request for counsel. 802 F.2d at 61-62. Of
course, the litigant must first demonstrate that he or she is
indigent, see Terminate Control Corp. v. Horowitz,
28 F.3d 1335, 1341 (2d Cir. 1994), for example, by
successfully applying for leave to proceed in forma
pauperis. The court must then consider whether the
litigant's claim “seems likely to be of
substance”-“a requirement that must be taken
seriously.” Id. at 60-61. If these threshold
requirements are met, the court must next consider such
the indigent's ability to investigate the crucial facts,
whether conflicting evidence implicating the need for
cross-examination will be the major proof presented to the
fact finder, the indigent's ability to present the case,
the complexity of the legal issues[, ] and any special reason
in that case why appointment of counsel would be more likely
to lead to a just determination.
Id.; see also Cooper, 877 F.2d at 172
(listing factors courts should consider, including
litigant's efforts to obtain counsel). In considering
these factors, district courts should neither apply
bright-line rules nor automatically deny the request for
counsel until the application has survived a dispositive
motion. See Hendricks v. Coughlin, 114 F.3d 390,
392-93 (2d Cir. 1997). Rather, each application must be
decided on its own facts. See Hodge, 802 F.2d at 61.
filed a Request to Proceed in Forma Pauperis (IFP),
which the Court granted on September 13, 2019. Dkt. No. 3.
Plaintiff 's Application for the Court to Request Counsel
demonstrates that Plaintiff 's financial status has not
substantially changed since he was granted IFP status. Dkt.
No. 43. Plaintiff therefore qualifies as indigent.
in his complaint, Plaintiff asserts claims against Leg
Apparel LLC, Amiee Lynn Accessories, Inc., Steven H.
Spolansky, Melissa Romanino, and Stuart Diamond, alleging
that Defendants discriminated and retaliated against him in
the course of his employment, in violation of Title VII of
the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 1981, the New
York State Human Rights Law, the New York City Human Rights
Law, and the Fair Labor Standards Act. The Court cannot
determine at this juncture whether Plaintiff's claim is
“likely to be of substance.” Hodge, 802
F.2d 61-62. The Court similarly finds that the other
Hodge factors do not support Plaintiff's
application at this time.
foregoing reasons, Plaintiff's Application for the Court
to Request Counsel is denied without prejudice to renew at a
later point in this litigation.
Court certifies under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(3) that any
appeal from this Order would not be taken in good faith and
therefore IFP status is denied for the purpose of an appeal.
See Coppedge v. United States, 369 U.S. 438, 444-45
Clerk of Court is directed to send a copy of this order to