United States District Court, W.D. Wisconsin
OPINION AND ORDER
D. PETERSON DISTRICT JUDGE
plaintiff Theraron Wells, an inmate incarcerated at Wisconsin
Secure Program Facility (WSPF), alleges that defendant prison
officials allowed him to overdose on medication. Wells has
several motions before the court.
filed a letter saying that defendants are interfering with
his legal work and requesting an order prohibiting defendants
from placing him in segregation. Dkt. 25. Wells also filed
two motions to compel production of a body camera video that
he contends will corroborate his claims of interference. Dkt.
31 and Dkt. 47. Because there is no evidence that defendants
have interfered with Wells's ability to litigate this
case, or evidence that the requested video exists, I will
deny these motions.
also filed a motion for assistance in recruiting counsel.
Dkt. 48. I will deny this motion because I am not convinced
that Wells is unable to litigate this case himself.
Motion to compel and interference with litigation
says that on January 4, 2019, another inmate asked officer
Shelly Hill to bring “legal papers” to Wells, but
that Hill confiscated the papers. Dkt. 33, ¶ 2-3. Wells
did not witness Hill take the papers, and he does not explain
why he believes Hill took them, but defendants say that Wells
got his information from Carlos Lindsey, another inmate at
WSPF. Hill says that does not remember receiving any
paperwork on January 4, or any other date, and that she would
not have agreed to take the papers if an inmate asked her to
pass them to Wells. Wells asks the court to compel production
of Hill's body camera video on January 4, and to review
the video for evidence of interference.
counsel represents that they have searched for the video, but
that no video exists for Hill's body camera on that date.
The prison's security director, defendant Mark Kartman,
says that the lack of video is “in accordance with the
Division of Adult Institution's policy on preservation of
body camera footage.” Dkt. 45, ¶ 5. Kartman does
not explain what that policy is because of “security
reasons.” Id. (He does not explain why inmate
knowledge of this policy would pose a security risk.) But DAI
policies are publicly available, and they require officers to
turn their camera on only in specific situations, none of
which would apply here. DAI 306.16.01.
says that I should not accept defendants' representations
and should compel the video to see for myself. But I cannot
order defendants to produce a video that does not exist, and
there is no reason to believe that defendants are lying. So I
will deny the motions to compel.
also deny Wells's request for an order telling prison
officials to stop isolating him and interfering with his
case. Wells does not explain what papers he believes were
taken by Hill, or why he needs those papers to litigate his
case. And apart from the alleged incident with Hill, there is
no evidence that prison officials have interfered with
Wells's case. Wells says that prison officials put him in
segregation in retaliation for filing this suit, Dkt. 25, but
this has not significantly affected Wells's ability to
represent himself. On the contrary, Wells has filed multiple
motions, including a motion for summary judgment that he
filed more than three months before the motion was due. Dkt.
52. Wells may think that his placement in segregation was
unfair, or even unconstitutional, but that is an issue that
he will need to raise in a separate lawsuit.
Motion for assistance in recruiting counsel
asks for the appointment of counsel to help him litigate this
case. But 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). Almost all of
this court's pro se litigants would benefit from the
assistance of counsel, but there are not enough lawyers
willing to take these types of cases to give each plaintiff
one. I must decide for each case “whether this
particular prisoner-plaintiff, among many deserving and
not-so-deserving others, should be the beneficiary of the
limited resources of lawyers willing to respond to
courts' requests.” McCaa v. Hamilton, 893
F.3d 1027, 1036 (7th Cir. 2018) (Hamilton, J., concurring).
prove that assistance in recruiting counsel is necessary,
this court generally requires that pro se plaintiffs: (1)
provide the names and addresses of at least three lawyers who
decline to represent them in the case; and (2) demonstrate
that theirs is one of those relatively few cases in which it
appears from the record that the legal and factual difficulty
of the case exceeds their demonstrated ability to prosecute
it. Pruitt. 503 F.3d at 655; see also Young v.
Cramer, No. 13-cv-77, 2013 WL 5504480, at *2 (W.D. Wis.
Oct. 3, 2013). Wells satisfies the first requirement because
he provides the names and address of four law firms that he
contacted. But he fails the second requirement because he has
not shown that this case will be too complex for him to
says that he was not prepared to litigate this case because a
jailhouse lawyer filed it without his permission. But I gave
Wells the opportunity to withdraw his case, and Wells made
the decision to move forward. Dkt. 15. Wells argues that he
lacks legal experience and will have difficulty investigating
the case while in prison. But these barriers are
unfortunately common among pro se prisoner litigants. They
are not in themselves reasons to recruit ...