United States District Court, W.D. Wisconsin
MICHAEL D. TERRELL, Plaintiff,
LON BECHER, SCOTT R. BASSUENER, ANDREW B. ROSS, JOSEPH R. DEMARTINI, DR. DAN WOLBRINK, and DR. GEOFFREY BAER, Defendants.
OPINION AND ORDER
D. PETERSON, DISTRICT JUDGE.
plaintiff and former prisoner Michael Terrell alleges that
while he was incarcerated at the Stanley Correctional
Institution, he received inadequate medical care that
ultimately resulted in his kneecap being surgically removed
without his consent. He is proceeding on claims under the
Eighth Amendment, Fourteenth Amendment, and Wisconsin law.
October 31, 2019, I dismissed Terrell's claims against
three defendants--Paul Lynch, Robert Chause, and Joan
Hannula--because Terrell failed to exhaust his administrative
remedies for his claims against them. Dkt. 51. On November
20, I denied Terrell's motion for reconsideration of that
order. Dkt. 59. Now Terrell has filed five additional motions
for reconsideration of the dismissal of Lynch, Chause, and
Hannula. Dkts. 64-68. Terrell alleges in his motions that
Lynch, Chause, and Hannula disregarded his serious medical
needs and that he attempted to exhaust his administrative
remedies. But he has failed to submit any new evidence
showing that he exhausted his administrative remedies. His
evidence and arguments confirm that he submitted inmate
complaints that were properly rejected as untimely or that
raised issues that are different from those on which he was
proceeding against Lynch, Chause, and Hannula. Therefore, I
will deny Terrell's motions for reconsideration. Terrell
should refrain from filing additional motions regarding the
dismissed claims and defendants, and he should instead focus
his efforts on the claims and defendants remaining in the
also filed a motion for assistance in recruiting counsel.
Dkt. 62. He alleges that he needs assistance because his
physical limitations make it difficult for him to litigate
this case on his own. A pro se litigant does not have a right
to counsel in a civil case, Olson v. Morgan, 750
F.3d 708, 711 (7th Cir. 2014), but a district court has
discretion to assist pro se litigants in finding a lawyer to
represent them. Pruitt v. Mote, 503 F.3d 647, 649
(7th Cir. 2007). A party who wants assistance from the court
in recruiting counsel must meet certain requirements.
Santiago v. Walls, 599 F.3d 749, 760-61 (7th Cir.
2010). First, he must show that he is unable to afford
counsel. Because Terrell is proceeding in forma pauperis
under 28 U.S.C. § 1915, he has met that requirement.
he must show that he made reasonable efforts on his own to
find a lawyer to represent him. Terrell has satisfied this
requirement by submitting letters from three lawyers who have
declined to represent him in this case. Dkt. 62-1.
Terrell must show that his is one of the relatively few cases
in which it appears from the record that the legal and
factual difficulty of the case exceeds the litigant's
demonstrated ability to prosecute it. Pruitt, 503
F.3d at 654-55. “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. at 655. 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 the particular
plaintiff should benefit from the limited resources of
lawyers willing to represent pro se litigants at the
court's requests. See McCaa v. Hamilton, 893
F.3d 1027, 1036 (7th Cir. 2018) (Hamilton, J., concurring).
says that he needs a lawyer because his physical limitations
make it difficult for him to litigate this case on his own.
He is also worried that defendants' counsel will attempt
to take advantage of him. But it is simply too early to
decide whether these are adequate grounds for seeking counsel
in this case. Terrell identifies no specific ways in which
his physical condition has interfered with his ability to
litigate this case. He also has not shown that
defendants' counsel has treated him in an unprofessional
or unethical manner. Terrell's complaint and other
filings have been clear and easy to follow. His submissions
to date suggest that he is intelligent, understands the law,
and is capable of explaining his version of events and making
legal arguments. In light of Terrell's demonstrated
abilities, I am not persuaded that he requires the assistance
of counsel at this time. Therefore, I am denying his motion
for court assistance in recruiting counsel.
Plaintiff Michael Terrell's motions for reconsideration,