United States District Court, D. Massachusetts
BRIANNA J. ADAMS, et al., Plaintiffs,
MICHAEL W. MORRISSEY, et al., Defendants.
SOROKIN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
the Court are the plaintiffs' motions for appointment of
counsel and for class certification. For the reasons stated
below, the Court denies both motions and orders that the
plaintiffs pay the filing fee or seek leave to proceed in
6, 2017, pro se litigants Jordan Rice, his mother
Blenda Rice, his fiancée Brianna Adams, and the
fiancée's mother Patricia Adams, filed a civil
rights complaint in which they allege that correctional
officers and other officials at MCI Cedar Junction engaged in
a campaign to torture and even kill Mr. Rice by contaminating
his food, drink, and bed with their bodily fluids and those
of prisoners. According to Mr. Rice, who is now incarcerated
at the Souza Baranowski Correctional Center, the correctional
officers engaged in this harassment to coerce him into
pleading guilty to criminal charges involving alleged
assaults on correctional officers, and to punish him when he
refused to do so and the charges against him were dropped.
They also claim that the correctional officers, or their
agents, threatened the other plaintiffs with serious bodily
injury if Mr. Rice did not plead guilty. The plaintiffs name
101 individuals as defendants.
plaintiffs also filed motions for appointment of counsel (ECF
No. 8) and for certification of a class (ECF No. 6). In the
latter motion, the four plaintiffs ask that this Court
certify them as a class. Although they refer to
“potential” of adding additional defendants, they
state that the potential class is limited to themselves:
“The Class of persons in this action are 4
Plaintiffs.” (ECF. No. 6 at 1).
plaintiffs did not pay the filing fee or seek leave to
proceed in forma pauperis.
Motion to Certify Class
Court cannot certify a class unless “the class is so
numerous that joinder of all members in impracticable.”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 23(a)(1). This “numerosity”
requirement refers to the number of persons in the potential
class, not the total number of parties in the action. Here,
the plaintiffs seek certification of a class with four
members. Joinder of four plaintiffs is not impracticable.
Class certification is not necessary for them to pursue their
claims. Accordingly, the motion to certify a class is denied.
Motion for Appointment of Counsel
28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(1), the Court “may request an
attorney to represent any person unable to afford
counsel.” 28 U.S.C. §1915(e)(1). However, a civil
plaintiff lacks a constitutional right to free counsel.
See DesRosiers v. Moran, 949 F.2d 15, 23 (1st Cir.
1991). Before appointing pro bono counsel, the Court
must find that the party is indigent and that exceptional
circumstances exist such that the denial of counsel will
result in fundamental unfairness impinging on the party's
due process rights. See Id. In determining whether
there are exceptional circumstances sufficient to warrant the
appointment of counsel, a court must examine the total
situation, focusing on the merits of the case, the complexity
of the legal issues, and the litigant's ability to
represent himself. See Id. at 24.
it does not appear that exceptional circumstances that would
justify the appointment of counsel exist. While the complaint
is lengthy and the defendants are numerous, the legal issues
are not necessarily complex and the plaintiffs have
articulated their claims with substantial clarity. Further,
the Court does not have adequate information concerning the
plaintiffs' finances to determine whether they are unable
to afford an attorney. Accordingly, the Court denies with
motion without prejudice to renewal after the defendants have
been served with and responded to the complaint.
Filing and Administrative Fees
person commencing a non-habeas civil action must pay a
statutory filing fee of $350, see 28 U.S.C. §
1914(a), and an administrative fee of $50 (collectively, the
“filing fee”). Only one filing fee is assessed
per action, regardless of the number of plaintiffs in the
case. Plaintiffs who cannot afford the fee can move to
proceed in forma pauperis by filing ...