United States District Court, W.D. Wisconsin
TOMMIE L. CARTER, Plaintiff,
PATRICK C. HOOPER and BRENT H. EXNER, Defendants. TOMMIE L. CARTER, Plaintiff,
ANTONIO CUMMINGS, ROBERT PICKLE, JAY VANLANEN and AMY GANDY, Defendants.
OPINION AND ORDER
BARBARA B. CRABB District Judge
plaintiff Tommie Carter is a prisoner in the custody of the
Wisconsin Department of Corrections. In these two civil
cases, he is proceeding on the following claims: (1)
defendants Patrick Hooper and Brent Exner used excessive
force against him on February 28, 2013, while removing
plaintiff’s restraints, in violation of the Eighth
Amendment (case no. 16-cv-54-bbc); (2) defendants Antonio
Cummings and Robert Pickle were aware of a substantial risk
that plaintiff would seriously harm himself on October 17,
2013, but they consciously failed to take reasonable measures
to prevent the harm, in violation of the Eighth Amendment
(case no. 16-cv-55-bbc); and (3) defendant Jay Vanlanen
refused to take pictures of plaintiff’s injuries on
October 17, 2013, in violation of plaintiff’s right to
have access to the courts (case no. 16-cv-55-bbc).
last few months, plaintiff has continued the trend from his
previous cases in this court of filing a series of motions in
which he alleges various of acts of misconduct by prison
officials, some related to his lawsuits and some not. In
addition, plaintiff has filed a motion for default judgment
(case no. 16-cv-54-bbc), a motion for assistance in
recruiting counsel (both cases), a motion to take the
depositions of defendants (case no. 16-cv-54-bbc) and a
motion for a competency determination (case no.
16-cv-55-bbc). For the reasons discussed below, I am denying
all of plaintiff’s motions in full.
Motion for Assistance in Recruiting Counsel (both
a district court can consider a request for counsel, it must
first find that the plaintiff has made reasonable efforts to
find a lawyer on his own and was unsuccessful or was
prevented from making such efforts. Jackson v. County of
McLean, 953 F.2d 1070 (7th Cir. 1992). To prove that he
has made reasonable efforts to find a lawyer, plaintiff must
give the court letters from at least three lawyers who denied
plaintiff's request for representation. Alternatively, if
the lawyers plaintiff writes do not respond after 30 days,
plaintiff may explain the efforts he took to obtain a lawyer
in a declaration sworn under penalty of perjury. Plaintiff
should include the date he sent the letters. In addition,
plaintiff should send a copy of the letter that he sent the
has not shown that he has made reasonable efforts to obtain a
lawyer on his own. Although plaintiff says that he has asked
more than 40 lawyers to represent him, he provides no
evidence to support that allegation.
plaintiff had shown that he had made reasonable efforts to
find his own lawyer, I would deny plaintiff's motion.
Court assistance in recruiting counsel is appropriate only
when the plaintiff demonstrates that his is one of those
relatively few cases in which it appears from the record that
the legal and factual difficulty of the case exceeds his
ability to prosecute it. Pruitt v. Mote, 503 F.3d
647, 654-55 (7th Cir. 2007). The question is not simply
whether a lawyer might do a better job.
have told plaintiff several times before, he has shown that
he is more than capable of acting as his own advocate. After
having filed several cases in this court, he is now a
seasoned litigator who is familiar with both the law and
court procedure. Further, neither of these cases is
particularly complex. Plaintiff has not shown that he needs
expert testimony or an understanding of complicated medical
or scientific issues. The law is clearly established with
respect to all of his claims.
only specific reason that plaintiff gives for needing a
lawyer in this case is that his frequent placement in
observation status makes it difficult for him to obtain basic
materials needed to file documents with the court or conduct
discovery. This statement is obviously false. It is rare that
more than a week or two passes in which plaintiff does not
file something with the court. In fact, few litigants (pro se
or otherwise) file as many motions as plaintiff. Of the 71
docket entries in case no. 16-cv-55-bbc, nearly all of them
are the result of a motion plaintiff filed. There is simply
no plausible basis for plaintiff to allege that he is unduly
restricted in his ability to communicate with the court or in
obtaining writing materials.
April 27, 2016 Motion for Default Judgment (Case no.
seeks a default judgment on the ground that defendants failed
to file a timely answer. However, defendants filed their
answer on April 18, 2016, which was within the 40-day
deadline set in the screening order and established under the
court’s Memorandum of Understanding with the Wisconsin
Department of Justice. (A copy of the memorandum is
attached.) Accordingly, I am denying plaintiff’s motion
for a default judgment.
April 4, 2016 Motion for Protective Order (Both
asks for an order directing prison officials to preserve
records showing that defendants may have been disciplined for
the conduct that prompted these lawsuits. In response,
defendants say that no such records exists and that they are
aware of their duty to preserve ...