United States District Court, E.D. Wisconsin
TOMMIE L. CARTER, Plaintiff,
ALLISON MCGOWAN, AMY GUNDERSON, DEREK SCHAUTEN, and JOEL SANKEY, Defendants.
Stadtmueller U.S. District Judge.
who is incarcerated at Columbia Correctional Institution,
filed a pro se complaint under 42 U.S.C. § 1983
alleging that his civil rights were violated. (Docket #1).
This matter comes before the Court on several of
Plaintiff's recently filed motions, including: (1) a
motion to compel production of a prison surveillance video
(Docket #30); (2) a motion for appointment of counsel (Docket
#31); and (3) a motion for sanctions and an investigation
(Docket #32). For the reasons stated below, all of
Plaintiff's motions will be denied.
Motion to Compel Production of Surveillance Footage
alleges in his motion to compel that he asked for
surveillance footage from a particular prison camera for a
particular date range. (Docket #30 at 1). Defendants
apparently responded that no such video exists. Id.
Plaintiff, unhappy with that response, asks the Court to
order Defendants to produce the video or answer a series of
interrogatories about what happened to the video.
Id. at 1-2.
motion must be denied. Plaintiff did not certify that he
first made a good-faith effort to meet and confer with
Defendants' counsel about the subject of his motion
before seeking the Court's intervention, as is required
by the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and the Court's
Local Rules. Fed.R.Civ.P. 37(a)(1); Civ. L. R. 37. He failed
to do this despite being very recently warned by the Court
that such meet-and-confer efforts are required before
bringing discovery disputes before the Court. See
(Docket #29 at 2); see also Ross v. Bd. of Regents of
Univ. of Wis. Sys., No. 08-CV-230, 2008 WL 5129941, at
*1 (E.D. Wis. Dec. 5, 2008) (“The court has neither the
time, nor the inclination to act as a referee in every minor
dispute between the parties during discovery.”);
Williams v. Frank, No. 06C1051, 2007 WL 1217358, at
*1 (E.D. Wis. Apr. 19, 2007) (enforcing Local Rule 37
meet-and-confer requirements against pro se
prisoner). Consequently, the Court will deny the motion and
will admonish Plaintiff that future discovery disputes should
not be brought to the Court's attention without first
complying with the requirements of Federal and Local Rule 37.
Motion for Appointment of Counsel
next motion, Plaintiff asks that the Court appoint him
counsel. (Docket #31). As a civil litigant, Plaintiff has no
automatic right to court-appointed counsel. Luttrell v.
Nickel, 129 F.3d 933, 936 (7th Cir. 1997). However,
under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(1), the “court may
request an attorney to represent any person unable to afford
counsel.” The court should seek counsel to represent
the plaintiff if: (1) he has made reasonable attempts to
secure counsel; and (2) “‘the difficulty of the
case-factually and legally-exceeds the particular
plaintiff's capacity as a layperson to coherently present
it.'” Navejar v. Iyiola, 718 F.3d 692, 696
(7th Cir. 2013) (quoting Pruitt v. Mote, 503 F.3d
647, 655 (7th Cir. banc 2007)).
the Court need not consider whether this case is too
difficult for him to litigate because Plaintiff has not shown
that he has made reasonable attempts to secure his own
counsel. He states that he has contacted “at least 179
attorneys throughout the State of Wisconsin, ” but
attaches no evidence substantiating such a robust effort. As
such, the Court concludes that recruitment of counsel in this
case is not justified at this time, and will deny
Plaintiff's motion for appointment of counsel without
Motion for Sanctions and an Investigation
Plaintiff has filed a motion requesting sanctions and an
investigation into the conduct of certain prison officials
who are not defendants in this case. (Docket #32). In his
motion, Plaintiff alleges that he was placed in segregation
and was denied his legal materials despite telling prison
officials that he has looming court-ordered deadlines.
Id. at 1. Additionally, a prison official named
Lindsay Walker (“Walker”) allegedly ordered
correctional officers to search Plaintiff's cell, and
those officers confiscated some of Plaintiff's legal
papers. Id. at 1-2. Next, Walker denied Plaintiff
access to and extra time in the law library although he
expressed a need for it in light of upcoming court deadlines.
Id. at 2. Plaintiff asserts that Walker's
conduct has been improper and designed to interfere with his
prosecution of this case. Id.
also claims that on two later occasions, officers searched
his cell and confiscated his legal papers because they were
worried that another inmate had given Plaintiff personal
information about one or more officers and that Plaintiff
might be corresponding with a non-prisoner about an attempt
to kill correctional officers. Id. at 2-3. Plaintiff
says that neither justification has merit and that the
searches are, again, attempts to interfere with his ability
to pursue this case. As a sanction for all this conduct,
Plaintiff seeks an order for the relevant individuals to be
interviewed and investigated. Id. at 3.
motion echoes many of the concerns Plaintiff expressed in his
last salvo of motions, see (Docket 29 at 3-7), and
it must be denied for similar reasons, see (Docket
#29 at 5-7). First, the Court generally will not interfere in
matters of prison administration through preliminary
injunctive relief, which is the type of sanction he seeks
here. The Prison Litigation Reform Act requires the Court to
“give substantial weight to any adverse impact on
public safety or the operation of a criminal justice system
caused by [requested] preliminary relief[.]” 18 U.S.C.
§ 3626(a)(2). Questioning many individual instances of
prison discipline and procedure in ad hoc fashion is
just the sort of unnecessary involvement in prison
administration which this Court seeks to avoid. Additionally,
Plaintiff cites no rule or statue providing the Court with
the authority to initiate an investigation of the relevant
individuals, most or all of whom are not defendants in this
case. Finally, as before, Plaintiff's unverified
allegations of wrongdoing do not carry his heavy burden in
requesting preliminary injunctive relief. See D.U. v.
Rhoades, 825 F.3d 331, 335 (7th Cir. 2016); Winter
v. Nat. Res. Def. Council, Inc., 555 U.S. 7, 22 (2008)
(a preliminary injunction requires a “clear showing
that [the plaintiff] is entitled to such relief”). For
these reasons, Plaintiff's motion will be denied.
IT IS ORDERED that Plaintiff's motion to compel
production of a prison surveillance video (Docket #30) be and
the same is hereby DENIED;
FURTHER ORDERED that Plaintiff's motion for appointment
of counsel (Docket #31) be and the same is ...