United States District Court, W.D. Wisconsin
OPINION & ORDER
D. PETERSON District Judge.
plaintiff Lewis Edward Byrd III, an inmate at the Vernon
County Jail, filed a complaint alleging that defendant
Brandon Arnez shot at him 11 times and broke his arm during
an arrest. Dkt. 5. In an April 17, 2017 order, I granted Byrd
leave to proceed on a Fourth Amendment excessive force claim
against Arnez. Dkt. 9. Now, Byrd asks to have an attorney
appointed to represent him and asks for leave to file a claim
against the Vernon County Sheriff's Department concerning
its role in his arrest. Dkt. 12. I must screen Byrd's
proposed new claim under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, just as I
screened the claim in his original complaint. I will deny him
leave to proceed on the new claim for failure to comply with
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8, but I will allow him the
opportunity to supplement his complaint. I will deny
Byrd's request for counsel as premature.
alleges that staff members of the Vernon County Sheriff's
Department told Arnez, the arresting officer whom Byrd
alleges used excessive force against him, that Byrd possessed
a stolen vehicle and was known for “being combative and
resisting” arrest. Dkt. 12, at 1. He alleges that this
information was false; he owned his cars and did not have a
history of resisting arrest. (He acknowledges that he did
have an outstanding warrant for absconding from parole.) He
alleges that the staff “mixed [him] up with someone
else” and passed the false information on to Arnez,
resulting in Arnez using excessive force against Byrd.
Byrd to attempt to bring a Monell claim against
Vernon County. But Byrd does not allege that the staff
members disseminated incorrect information about him because
of the county's policy or custom, so he does not state a
claim against the county. See Monell v. Dep't of Soc.
Servs. of N.Y., 436 U.S. 658, 694 (1978). Byrd's
allegations seem to indicate that certain employees of the
Sheriff's Department are to blame for the dissemination
of incorrect information, but he does not name the employees
as defendants or explain exactly what they did. “When
the substance of a pro se civil rights complaint indicates
the existence of claims against individual officials not
specifically named in the caption of the complaint, the
district court must provide the petitioner with an
opportunity to amend the complaint.” Donald v. Cook
Cty. Sheriff's Dep't, 95 F.3d 548, 555 (7th Cir.
1996). The court cannot do that on its own. Myles v.
United States, 416 F.3d 551, 552-53 (7th Cir. 2005)
(“[It is] unacceptable for a court to add litigants on
its own motion. Selecting defendants is a task for the
plaintiff, not the judge.”). If Byrd wants to sue
individual employees of the Vernon County Sheriff's
Department, he must supplement his complaint to identify
those individuals and the specific actions taken by each
individual. I will give him a short time to submit a
supplemental complaint naming individual employees as
defendants and explaining what each defendant did to violate
Recruitment of counsel
asks me to “consider appointing [him] an
attorney.” Dkt. 12, at 1. Litigants in civil cases do
not have a constitutional right to counsel, and I do not have
the authority to appoint counsel to represent a pro se
plaintiff in a civil matter. Rather, I can only assist in
recruiting counsel who may be willing to serve voluntarily.
See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(1); Pruitt v.
Mote, 503 F.3d 647, 654, 656 (7th Cir. 2007) (en banc).
To prove that assistance in recruiting counsel is necessary,
this court generally requires that a pro se plaintiff: (1)
provide the names and addresses of at least three lawyers who
decline to represent him in this case; and (2) demonstrate
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 demonstrated ability to prosecute it.
Id. at 655; see also Young v. Cramer, No.
13-cv-077, 2013 WL 5504480, at *2 (W.D. Wis. Oct. 3, 2013).
has provided no evidence that he has attempted to recruit
legal representation on his own. This is reason enough to
deny his motion. See Jackson v. County of McLean,
953 F.2d 1070, 1072-73 (7th Cir. 1992). Even if this
requirement were met, the second requirement for assistance
in recruiting counsel requires Byrd to demonstrate that the
legal and factual difficulty of each case exceeds his ability
to prosecute it. It is too early to tell whether Byrd's
claims will outstrip his litigation abilities. For example,
it's not yet clear whether I will grant Byrd leave to
proceed on additional claims. And the case may not pass the
relatively early stage in which defendants may file a motion
for summary judgment based on a preliminary issue that could
result in dismissal of the case before it advances deep into
the discovery stage of the litigation. Should the case pass
the early stage of litigation, and should Byrd continue to
believe that he is unable to litigate the suit himself, then
he may renew his motion. If he does so, he should provide the
names and addresses of the attorneys who declined to
represent him in this case. If possible, he should include
the rejection letters from those attorneys. And he will have
to explain what specific litigation tasks he cannot perform
Plaintiff Lewis Edward Byrd III's motion for leave to
file a claim against the Vernon County Sheriff's
Department, Dkt. 12, is DENIED without prejudice for failure
to comply with Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8.
Plaintiff may have until June 15, 2017, to file a
supplemental complaint identifying the individual(s) whom he
intends to sue as named defendant(s) in his proposed claim