United States District Court, W.D. Wisconsin
D. PETERSON District Judge
Alfredo Vega brings claims that defendants Captain Morgan and
Gwen Schultz violated his rights to due process when they
found him guilty of violations of prison regulations
following an incident in which he was attacked by another
inmate at the Columbia Correctional Institution.
has filed several motions. He states that his legal materials
in this case were damaged from a fire in his cell and then
removed by prison staff. (In his other open case in this
court, No. 17-cv-116-jdp, Vega explains that he set the fire
in a suicide attempt.) He requests an order directing the
state to provide him with copies of the documents that have
been filed or otherwise pertain to this case. Dkt. 32. The
state has responded, stating that it will provide Vega with
copies of virtually all of the documents filed in the
as well as discovery-related documents. The state says that
it will give Vega those documents, but “given the
circumstances surrounding the fire in Plaintiff's cell,
” the state says that it will hand over those documents
only pursuant to a court order.
grant Vega's motion and direct the state to provide him
with a copy of those documents. Although I expect state
officials to keep Vega safe, I understand that by this order
1 am directing Vega to be provided with flammable materials.
I urge Vega not to make further attempts at self-harm, and he
should be aware that his access to property may need to be
reviewed if he is using it to harm himself. The parties
should keep me updated of any developments relating to
whether Vega can safely keep legal materials in his cell.
has filed a motion for primary injunctive relief, asking to
be transferred to the Waupun Correctional Institution or
Green Bay Correctional Institution to avoid harassment from
defendants. Dkt. 25. But sometime between the filing of that
motion and mid-May, Vega was transferred to the Green Bay
prison, so I will deny his motion as moot.
has filed a motion asking for the entry of default against
defendant Gwen Schultz, stating that Schultz failed to answer
the complaint. Dkt. 36. But the record shows otherwise: the
Wisconsin Department of Justice accepted service for
defendant Schultz and filed an answer on her behalf.
See Dkt. 20. There is no reason to enter default
against Schultz, so I will deny this motion.
has filed a motion to compel the production of disciplinary
documents regarding the incident in which he was attacked.
Vega says he needs this discovery for the sole purpose of
preparing an amended complaint containing new claims against
those present during the attack. Defendants correctly point
out that Vega's stated reason puts his request outside
the scope of his current claims, which is good enough reason
to deny the motion to compel. Also, Vega failed to confer with
defendants, which is required under Fed.R.Civ.P. 37(a)(1).
Vega should not need these reports to file a proposed amended
complaint. He should already have relevant information
concerning the attack from his own conduct report. And in any
event, he does not need to know the identities of staff
present at the scene to file claims against them: he could
name them as “John Doe” defendants and then seek
their identities through discovery. If Vega still seeks to
amend his complaint, he should do so as soon as possible, and
he should explain why the interests of justice require
allowing him to expand the scope of the case. See
Fed. R. Civ. P. 15(a)(2).
Vega has filed a motion for appointment of counsel, stating
that he cannot afford counsel and he faces impediments
litigating the case as a non-lawyer prisoner. Dkt. 23.
not have the authority to appoint counsel to
represent a pro se plaintiff in this type of a case; I can
only recruit counsel who may be willing to serve voluntarily
in that capacity. To show that it is appropriate for the
court to recruit counsel, a plaintiff must first show that he
has made reasonable efforts to locate an attorney on his own.
See Jackson v. Cty. of McLean, 953 F.2d 1070,
1072-73 (7th Cir. 1992) (“the district judge must first
determine if the indigent has made reasonable efforts to
retain counsel and was unsuccessful or that the indigent was
effectively precluded from making such efforts”). To
meet this threshold requirement, this court generally
requires plaintiffs to submit correspondence from at least
three attorneys to whom they have written and who have
refused to take the case. Vega attaches letters to an
attorney and to the Milwaukee Bar Association, and he says
that he did not receive a response to either letter.
assuming that these letters show that Vega has made
reasonable efforts, he fails in meeting the second part of
the test. This court will seek to recruit counsel for a pro
se litigant only when the litigant demonstrates that his case
is one of those relatively few 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). Vega stated impediments
are very common among prisoners litigating in this court and
are not alone reasons to recruit counsel. Nor am I convinced
that this case is too complex for him to litigate. He
believes that defendants were biased against him in ruling in
his disciplinary proceedings. His task at summary judgment or
trial will be to provide evidence showing why he believes
this is the case. As the case progresses, Vega is free to
renew his motion, but he will have to explain in greater
detail why the case is too complex for him to litigate
Plaintiff Alfredo Vega's motion for the state to provide
him with copies of documents related ...