United States District Court, D. South Carolina
Bilal A. Al-Haqq, a/k/a Bilal Abdullah Al-Haqq, a/k/a Michael Dion McFadden, Plaintiff,
Ms. Francis Johnson, I.G. C.; Sgt. Foglebach; Ms. Tammy Way; Lt. Eugene Skipper; Ms. Francine Baughman, O.H.O., Defendants.
V. Hodges United States Magistrate Judge
A. Al-Haqq (“Plaintiff”), proceeding pro se and
in forma pauperis, brought this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983, alleging violations of his constitutional
rights. All pretrial proceedings in this case have been
referred to the undersigned pursuant to the provisions of 28
U.S.C. § 636(b) and Local Civ. Rule 73.02(B)(2)(d)
(D.S.C.). This matter comes before the court on the following
motions filed by Plaintiff: (1) motion to amend the complaint
[ECF Nos. 35]; (2) motion to compel discovery [ECF No. 39];
and (3) motion to appoint counsel [ECF No. 45].
Factual and Procedural History
filed this civil action on January 18, 2019, pursuant to 42
U.S.C. § 1983, alleging claims regarding the
confiscation of his outgoing legal mail while incarcerated at
MacDougall Correctional Institution
(“MacDougall”). [ECF No. 1]. Plaintiff alleges
while at MacDougall, an inmate informed defendant Tammy Way
(“Way”) that Plaintiff had “placed her name
in [his] legal for tampering with the mailing of [his] legal
mail.” [ECF No. 1 at 5-6]. Plaintiff alleges Way opened
Plaintiff's legal mail on May 23, 2019, and gave it to
defendant Lt. Eugene Skipper (“Skipper”),
“who shared a relationship with Ms. Way.”
Id. Skipper ordered Plaintiff to report to
Skipper's office, where Way and defendant Sgt. Foglebach
(“Foglebach”), were reviewing his legal work.
was “charged with abuse of privilege and given
restriction time.” Id. Plaintiff alleges
“[t]here was no contraband in the legal mail and [his]
legal mail was never returned to [him].” Id.
The complaint alleges that Plaintiff could not litigate his
case “due to critical and pertinent information be[ing]
confiscated.” Id. at 7. Plaintiff requests
compensatory and punitive damages, as well as injunctive
relief in the form that his paperwork be returned.
31, 2019, Plaintiff filed a “motion for leave to file
an amended and supplemental complaint, ” but did not
include a proposed amended complaint [ECF No. 20]. The
Honorable Mary Gordon Baker, United States Magistrate Judge,
issued an order on June 20, 2019, noting that Plaintiff's
motion: (1) did not clarify whether his proposed claims of
inadequate treatment and unsafe prison conditions were based
on events that happened after the May 23, 2017 incident at
issue in the complaint; (2) did not specify any defendants to
whom his proposed conditions of confinement claim related;
(3) did not move for the South Carolina Department of
Corrections (“SCDC”) to be added as a named
despite requesting injunctive relief from this entity; and
(4) failed to provide a proposed amended complaint. [ECF No.
25]. Judge Baker instructed Plaintiff to file a proposed
amended complaint containing all allegations against all
defendants in one filing by July 8, 2019, and held the motion
to amend in abeyance. Id. at 3-4.
22, 2019, Judge Baker issued an order denying Plaintiffs
motion to amend the complaint, as he had not filed a proposed
amended complaint or otherwise clarified the issues raised by
Judge Baker. [ECF No. 33]. Also on July 22, 2019, but not
docketed until July 23, 2019, Plaintiff submitted a document
titled “Plaintiffs Amended and Supplemental
Complaint” [ECF No. 35], which the Clerk's office
interpreted as a new motion to amend the complaint. On July
26, 2019, the case was reassigned to the undersigned for
reasons unrelated to the facts of the case.
Discussion A. Motion to Amend [ECF No. 35]
motion to amend alleges that Ms. Chapman, a mailroom
supervisor at MacDougall, allowed and assisted Way in
confiscating his legal mail, but provides no further
allegations against Chapman, Way, or any other defendants.
Judge Baker previously advised Plaintiff that “an
amended pleading ordinarily supersedes the original
[complaint] and renders it of no legal effect. [ECF No. 25 at
3-4]. Even if Plaintiff had timely submitted his motion, it
is nevertheless deficient because it does not contain
specific allegations that form the basis of the first
complaint and fails to address any of the issues outlined in
Judge Baker's June 20, 2019 order. Therefore, Plaintiffs
motion to amend is denied.
Motion to Compel [ECF No. 39]
motion to compel appears to seek responses to his requests
for production and requests for admission, but makes no
argument as to any particular request. Defendants'
response attached responses to the discovery served on
Plaintiff on July 1, 2019. In his reply, Plaintiff accuses
defendants of being untruthful in discovery and argues that
the responses contradict other documents in the case, but he
fails to attach the referenced documents. Without more, the
undersigned is constrained to deny Plaintiffs motion to
Motion to Appoint Counsel
has filed a motion for the court to appoint him counsel. [ECF
No. 51]. There is no right to appointed counsel in 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983 civil rights cases. Cf. Hardwick v.
Ault, 517 F.2d 295, 298 (5th Cir. 1975). While the court
is granted the power to exercise its discretion to appoint
counsel for an indigent in a civil action, 28 U.S.C. §
1915(e)(1); Smith v. Blackledge, 451 F.2d 1201 (4th
Cir. 1971), such appointment “should be allowed only in
exceptional cases.” Cook v. Bounds, 518 F.2d
779, 780 (4th Cir. 1975). Plaintiff has not shown that any
exceptional circumstances exist in this case.
review of the file, this court has determined that there are
no exceptional or unusual circumstances presented that would
justify the appointment of counsel, nor would Plaintiff be
denied due process if an attorney were not appointed.
Whisenant v. Yuam,739 F.2d 160 (4th Cir. 1984). In
most civil rights cases, the issues are not complex, and
whenever such a case brought by an uncounseled litigant goes
to trial, the court outlines proper procedure so the
uncounseled litigant will not be deprived of a fair