United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Orangeburg Division
J. GOSSETT UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Gwendolyn Singleton, a self-represented litigant, filed this
employment action pursuant to Title VII of the Civil Rights
Act of 1964 (“Title VII”), 42 U.S.C. §§
2000e, et seq.; the Age Discrimination in Employment Act
(“ADEA”), 29 U.S.C. §§ 621, et seq.;
and the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”),
42 U.S.C. §§ 12101, et seq. This matter is before
the court on the plaintiff's motion for appointment of
counsel. (ECF No. 7.)
there is no constitutional right to appointed counsel in
civil actions, such as Title VII, ADEA, and ADA cases.
See, e.g., Mallard v. United States District Court,
490 U.S. 296, 302 (1989); Cook v. Bounds, 518 F.2d
779, 780 (4th Cir. 1975); Young v. K-Mart Corp., 911
F.Supp. 210, 211 (E.D. Va. 1996); Jason v. Baptist
Hosp., 872 F.Supp. 1575 (E.D. Tex. 1994). Whether to
grant a litigant's request for appointment of counsel is
within the discretion of the district courts. See
Ferrelli v. River Manor Health Care Ctr., 323 F.3d 196
(2d Cir. 2003); Young, 911 F.Supp. at 211.
actions, such as those brought under Title VII or the ADA,
provide statutory discretionary authority for a litigant to
request appointment of counsel “in such circumstances
as the court may deem just.” 42 U.S.C. §
2000e-5(f)(1); see also 42 U.S.C. § 12117(a) (ADA)
(applying by reference the powers, remedies, and procedures
in § 2000e-5). However, the circumstances under which a
Title VII litigant is entitled to an appointed counsel are
limited. See 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-5(f)(1) (“Upon
application by the complainant and in such circumstances as
the court may deem just, the court may appoint an attorney
for such complainant.”); Jason, 872 F.Supp. at 1579.
Other actions, such as those filed under the ADEA, have no
provision for appointment of counsel, in which case the
general authority for requesting counsel under 28 U.S.C.
§ 1915(e)(1) may govern. See Dahm v. Clinton,
No. 12-CV-1, 2012 WL 523708, at *1 (N .D. Ind. Feb. 16,
2012). Section 1915(e)(1) provides courts discretion to
“request an attorney to represent any person unable to
afford counsel.” However, a plaintiff must present
“exceptional circumstances.” Miller v.
Simmons, 925 F.2d 962, 966 (4th Cir. 1987) (citing
Cook v. Bounds, 518 F.2d 779 (4th Cir. 1975)).
the United States Supreme Court nor the Court of Appeals for
the Fourth Circuit has considered how a district court should
exercise its discretion to appoint counsel. Other circuits
considering appointment of counsel under § 2000e-5(f)(1)
have stated that a district court should consider the
following factors: (1) the plaintiff's financial
resources; (2) the efforts of the plaintiff to retain
counsel; and (3) the merits of the plaintiff's case.
See, e.g., Gonzalez v. Carlin, 907 F.2d 573, 580
(5th Cir. 1990); Poindexter v. Fed. Bureau of
Investigation, 737 F.2d 1173, 1185 (D.C. Cir. 1984);
Bradshaw v. Zoological Soc'y, 662 F.2d 1301,
1318 (9th Cir. 1981). Some circuits have also considered the
plaintiff's ability to represent herself. See Hunter
v. Dep't of Air Force Agency, 846 F.2d 1314, 1317
(11th Cir. 1988); Poindexter, 737 F.2d at 1185. Finding this
authority persuasive, as have other courts in this circuit,
this court will review the plaintiff's request for
appointment of counsel under these four factors. See
Tyson v. Pitt Cnty. Gov't, 919 F.Supp. 205, 207
(E.D. N.C. 1996); Young, 911 F.Supp. at 211.
review of the file, the court has determined that while the
first factor may weigh in the plaintiffs favor, the second,
third, and fourth factors weigh heavily against appointment
of counsel. The plaintiffs motion does not state that she has
previously attempted to retain counsel. Further, based on the
pleadings before the court, the plaintiff appears capable of
addressing the legal issues.
the plaintiff has failed to present any exceptional or
unusual circumstances at this time that would justify her
request for counsel under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(1), nor
would the plaintiff be denied due process if her request were
not granted. ...