United States District Court, E.D. Texas, Sherman Division
ORDER AND OPINION
KIMBERLY C. PRIEST JOHNSON UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
before the Court is pro se Plaintiff Shelley
Soniat's Motion for an Attorney (Dkt. 6). For the
following reasons, the Court finds Plaintiff's motion
(Dkt. 6) is DENIED.
previously filed a lawsuit in three (3) separate actions in
this district in 2014. The first case was referred to Magistrate
Judge Don D. Bush from Judge Richard Schell (collectively,
the “Judicial Defendants”) for pretrial
management. Judge Bush denied Plaintiff's request for the
issuance of summons and recommended Plaintiff's case be
dismissed with prejudice for failure to state a claim.
See Soniat v. Jackson, 2014 WL 6968871, at *2, 6
(E.D. Tex. Dec. 9, 2014). Judge Schell subsequently adopted
Judge Bush's report and dismissed the consolidated
action. See Soniat v. Jackson, 2015 WL 1503650 (E.D.
Tex. Mar. 31, 2015). Plaintiff appealed, but the Fifth
Circuit affirmed. See Soniat v. Jackson, 628 F.
App'x 292 (5th Cir. 2016). Plaintiff filed a petition for
a writ of certiorari in the Supreme Court, but it was denied
on May 16, 2016. See Soniat v. Jackson, 136 S.Ct.
2016, 2016 WL 900300 (May 16, 2016).
20, 2016, Plaintiff filed another lawsuit in this district
against the Judicial Defendants and the Department of Housing
and Urban Development (“HUD”),  asserting that
the Judicial Defendants discriminated against her by not
allowing her to exercise and enjoy her rights under the Fair
Housing Act. Further, she asserted HUD's policy of
deferring to the Judicial Defendants' discretion and
refusing to respond to her previous lawsuit has a
discriminatory effect on women and minorities.
December 16, 2016, the undersigned entered two (2) Report and
Recommendations, recommending Plaintiff's claims be
dismissed against all defendants, in which the district court
adopted on January 6, 2017. See Soniat v. Dep't of
Hous. and Urban Dev., 2017 WL 68562 (E.D. Tex. Jan. 6,
2017); Soniat v. Dep't of Hous. and Urban Dev.,
2017 WL 73073 (E.D. Tex. Jan. 6, 2017). That case is
currently pending on appeal.
March 6, 2017, Plaintiff filed the instant action against the
Texas Real Estate Commission, Texas Association of Realtors,
and National Association of Realtors
(“Defendants”) (Dkt. 1), wherein she asserted the
same complaints essentially stated in her first two (2)
lawsuits. On April 3, 2017, Plaintiff filed the Motion for an
Attorney, requesting the Court to appoint counsel under 42
U.S.C. § 3613. See Dkt. 6 at 1.
general, there is no constitutional right to appointment of
counsel in civil cases. See Santana v. Chandler, 961
F.2d 514, 516 (5th Cir. 1992). Parties to an action for
discrimination in housing may seek the appointment of counsel
under 42 U.S.C. § 3613(b)(1). However, appointment of
counsel is left to the discretion of the court. See
42 U.S.C. § 3613(b); Roberts v. McKinney Hous.
Auth., 2007 WL 1795691, at *1 (E.D. Tex. June 20, 2007).
little case law exists on the appointment of an attorney
under 42 U.S.C. § 3613(b), courts have found case law on
the appointment of an attorney under 42 U.S.C. §
2000e-5(f)(1) to be instructive and persuasive. See
Jackson v. Park Place Condos. Ass'n, Inc., 2014 WL
494789, at *2 (D. Kan. Feb. 6, 2014); Zhu v. Countrywide
Realty Co., 148 F.Supp.2d 1154, 1157 (D. Kan. 2001).
Those courts follow factors identified by the Tenth Circuit
when evaluating a motion for appointment of counsel. See
Id. (citing Castner v. Colo. Springs
Cablevision, 979 F.2d 1417, 1421 (10th Cir. 1992)).
Before counsel may be appointed under 42 U.S.C. §
2000e-5, the plaintiff requesting the appointment must make
affirmative showings of: (1) financial inability to pay for
counsel; (2) diligence in attempting to secure counsel; and
(3) meritorious allegations of discrimination. See
the first and second elements, Plaintiff has briefly stated
that she is unable to afford counsel. See Dkt. 1.
Although she has not provided financial information, the
Court will assume this is true for purposes of this analysis.
Plaintiff further showed that she contacted at least three
(3) attorneys who refused to represent her. See Dkt.
1 at 11. However, Plaintiff cannot show the third element.
warrant appointment of counsel, Plaintiff must affirmatively
show she asserted meritorious claims. See Jackson,
2014 WL 494789, at *3. In the instant lawsuit, Plaintiff