United States District Court, W.D. Wisconsin
OPINION & ORDER
STEPHEN L. CROCKER MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
Roy Mitchell is proceeding in this action under 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983 on Fourteenth Amendment claims that various Dane
County officials subjected her to conditions of confinement
so dangerous that they violated her due process rights.
Defendants' motion for summary judgment was recently
taken under advisement by the presiding judge. (Dkt. 261.) In
the meantime, I will resolve Mitchell's outstanding
motions. Specifically, Mitchell has filed four
discovery-related motions (dkts. 135, 156, 182, 236, 259),
which I am denying, as well as a motion for assistance in
recruiting counsel (dkt. 239), which I am denying without
for Sanctions (dkt. 135)
motion for sanctions, Mitchell takes issue with portions of
the defendants' Answer to her complaint in which they
deny her allegations in her complaint. Mitchell contends that
all of her allegations are conclusively true because of the
publicity surrounding the conditions at the Dane County Jail,
and she supports her motion with numerous citations and
exhibits about those conditions; therefore, it is
sanctionable for defendants to deny what she alleges to be
true. As a general matter, defendants in civil lawsuits
routinely respond to the complaints against them by denying
the substantive allegations. Discovery follows, motions are
filed, and facts are determined as the case proceeds, often
establishing the accuracy of facts that defendants denied in
their answers. That's the way the process is wired, so
the court is not going to impose sanctions for defendants
following a pretty standard front-end operating procedure.
regarding Spoilation (dkts. 156, 182)
motions, Mitchell requests sanctions and for default judgment
because she believes that defendants permitted relevant
evidence to be destroyed. She filed these motions because she
attempted to respond to defendants' exhaustion summary
judgment motion by obtaining certain grievances related to
her claims. Defendants have since withdrawn their exhaustion
motion. Therefore, these motions will be denied as moot.
Following Deposition (dkt. 236)
motion, Mitchell is seeking a remedy related to certain
allegedly improper deposition questions defendants'
counsel asked during her August 29, 2017, deposition.
Specifically, she complains that defendants improperly asked
her about another settlement agreement that she reached in a
lawsuit involving Dane County. It is unclear what relief
Mitchell is seeking related to these questions, but I asked
for defendants to respond to clarify what happened during the
deposition. Defendants provided the excerpt of that exchange,
which shows that their attorney showed Mitchell the
settlement agreement and asked her to identify it. Mitchell
answered that she recognized the document but would not
discuss it because she did not want to infringe upon any of
its terms, and counsel did not press the issue further. This
exchange does not suggests that these questions were
improper. Counsel simply asked Mitchell to identify the
settlement agreement, she did not ask Mitchell to divulge any
of the details. Accordingly, the motion will be denied.
to Compel (dkt. 259)
withdrew her most recent discovery motion because defendants
complied with the request. As such, I'm denying it as
for Assistance in Recruiting Counsel (dkt. 239)
Mitchell has filed a motion for assistance recruiting
counsel. She explains that she suffers from post-traumatic
stress disorder and reiterates her complaints about the
discovery process and her belief that defendants' counsel
has acted inappropriately throughout the course of this
Mitchell knows, there is no right to counsel in civil cases.
Olson v. Morgan, 750 F.3d 708, 711 (7th
Cir. 2014). Rather, a party who wants court assistance
recruiting counsel must meet several requirements.
Santiago v. Walls, 599 F.3d 749, 760-61
(7th Cir. 2010). Mitchell has met the first
requirement by establishing that she is unable to afford
counsel. However, she has not yet made an adequate showing
that she made reasonable-but unsuccessful- efforts on his own
to find a lawyer to represent her. Mitchell states that she
has been unsuccessful in her attempts to retain counsel and I
do not doubt this statement. Even so, if it were important to
the court's decision at this time, then I would direct
Mitchell to submit three attorney rejection letters for this
lawsuit (or provide the names and addresses of the attorneys
that she contacted about this lawsuit but who did not
respond). But I won't make Mitchell do this because I
still would be declining to recruit a volunteer attorney for
her at this time.
I am not persuaded that this is one of those few cases in
which it appears from the record that the legal and factual
difficulty of the case exceeds the plaintiff's ability to
prosecute it. Pruitt v. Mote, 503 F.3d 647, 654-55
(7th Cir. 2007). The question is not whether a lawyer will do