United States District Court, W.D. Wisconsin
TYRONE D. ARDS, Plaintiff,
CODY SAYLOR, REBECCA EAGLEBURGER, TRENT LANDT, SONYA ANDERSON, REBECCA FELDMAN, BECKY KRAMER, JOSEPH CICHANOWICZ, LAVERNE WALLACE, JASON GODFREY, GABRIEL JOHNSTON, and ANGELA MINK, Defendants.
D. PETERSON DISTRICT JUDGE.
plaintiff Tyrone Ards is a prisoner incarcerated at the
Wisconsin Secure Program Facility (WSPF). Ards has a history
of suicide attempts, and he alleges that defendants, who are
WSPF employees, ignored Ards's suicide risk by leaving
him with large dosages of medicine. He also alleges that
defendant Cody Saylor unnecessarily used pepper spray on him.
order addresses four motions filed by Ards: (1) a motion for
the court's assistance in recruiting counsel, Dkt. 15;
(2) a motion to supplement his motion for assistance in
recruiting counsel, Dkt. 67; (3) a motion for sanctions, Dkt.
16; and (4) a motion for reconsideration of the order denying
his motion for a preliminary injunction, Dkt. 38. I will
grant his motion to supplement his motion regarding counsel,
but deny the other three.
Motion for assistance in recruiting counsel
moves for the court's assistance in recruiting counsel,
Dkt. 15, and asks to supplement his motion by adding
additional reasons why the court should assist him, Dkt. 67.
I will grant his motion to supplement and consider it along
with his original motion.
in civil cases do not have a constitutional right to counsel,
and I can only assist in recruiting counsel who may be
willing to serve without compensation. See 28 U.S.C.
§ 1915(e)(1); Pruitt v. Mote, 503 F.3d 647,
653-54, 656 (7th Cir. 2007) (en banc). Before assisting in
recruiting counsel, this court requires a pro se litigant to
satisfy two requirements. First, the pro se litigant must
show that he has made reasonable attempts to recruit counsel
on his own. See Jackson v. Cty. of McLean, 953 F.2d
1070, 1072-73 (7th Cir. 1992) (“[T]he 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”). This court generally requires a pro se
litigant to provide the names and addresses of at least three
attorneys whom he tried to recruit.
once the pro se litigant has shown that he made some
reasonable attempts to recruit counsel, the court “must
examine whether the difficulty of the case-factually and
legally-exceeds” his abilities to litigate his claims.
Perez v. Fenoglio, 792 F.3d 768, 784 (7th Cir. 2015)
(internal citation and quotation marks omitted). Assessing
the litigant's abilities is a “practical”
inquiry, Santiago v. Walls, 599 F.3d 749, 762 (7th
Cir. 2010), and no fixed requirement exists, Pruitt,
503 F.3d at 655. But courts generally consider the
litigant's “literacy, communication skills,
educational level, and litigation experience” in light
of the complexities of the case. Id. “The
question is not whether a lawyer would present the case more
effectively than the pro se plaintiff” but instead
whether the pro se litigant can “coherently present
[his case] to the judge or jury himself.” Id.
Ards has not satisfied either requirement. Ards says in his
motion to supplement his motion for recruiting counsel that
he has already satisfied the first requirement, Dkt. 67,
¶ 4, but he is mistaken. Ards has attempted to recruit
counsel on his own for one of his other cases before me,
Ards v. Anderson, and I found attorneys who were
willing to represent him. No. 16-cv-341, Dkt. 139 (Wis. W.D.
Feb. 15, 2018). This does not mean that Ards need not attempt
to recruit counsel in all other cases. Ards must attempt to
recruit counsel who is willing to represent him in this case
or explain why he cannot attempt to do so.
the second requirement, it is too early to tell whether the
complexities of this case warrant recruiting counsel for
Ards. Ards's submissions indicate that this case turns on
what happened to him: specifically, whether WSPF staff sent
him large dosages of medicine and whether he was subjected to
pepper spray unnecessarily. Ards's submissions also
indicate that he can at least tell his side of the facts. I
will deny Ards's motion for assistance in recruiting
Motion for sanctions
in the case, Ards moved for a preliminary injunction that
compels WSPF prison officials to ensure his safety. He
indicated that prison staff members were leaving him with
medicine, ignoring the fact that he was suicidal, and that he
intended to attempt suicide yet again by overdosing on
medicine. Dkt. 7. In response to Ards's motion,
defendants' counsel filed declarations of Shawn
Gallinger, a correctional officer, and Maria Lemieux, a
psychological associate at WSPF, indicating that WSPF
officials implemented various measures to ensure Ards's
safety. While Ards's motion was pending, Ards managed to
stockpile medicine inside a tissue holder and attempted to
overdose on medicine. Defendants' counsel filed a status
report the following morning, informing the court that Ards
had attempted to overdose and that prison officials were
investigating the incident. Dkt. 12 and Dkt. 13. The parties
briefed Ards's preliminary injunction motion, and the
court held a hearing at which WSPF staff members testified
that WSPF would voluntarily implement additional measures to
ensure Ards's safety. I concluded that the Ards's
safety was ensured and denied his motion for a preliminary
now moves for sanctions, arguing that prison staff members
and defendants' counsel should be punished for the
following reasons: (1) defendant Cody Saylor failed to
respond to Ards's motion for a preliminary injunction as
required; (2) Gallinger and Lemieux lied to the court because
despite the safety measures indicated in their declarations,
Ards ended up attempting suicide; and (3) defendants'
counsel misstated facts on how Ards attempted to overdose
(e.g., stating that Ards overdosed on Tylenol as opposed to
ibuprofen). Dkt. 16. I will deny Ards's motion for
Saylor did respond to Ards's motion. Dkts. 10-12, 29.
Second, Gallinger and Lemieux did not lie; they did not (and
could not) absolutely guarantee Ards's safety. Third,
defendants' counsel had less than a day to investigate
the incident; minor errors in their submissions were
excusable. I will deny Ards's motion for sanctions.
Motion for ...