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Stuart v. Manriquez

United States District Court, W.D. Texas, San Antonio Division

July 16, 2019

LEOLA ADELENA STUART, Plaintiff,
v.
TRINIDAD MANRIQUEZ, SAPD OFFICER, Defendant.

          ORDER SETTING INITIAL PRETRIAL CONFERENCE

          ELIZABETH S. ("BETSY") CHESTNEY UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         Before the Court is the above-styled and numbered cause of action, which was referred to the undersigned on July 12, 2019 for all pretrial proceedings after the District Court adopted the undersigned's report and recommendation and dismissed Plaintiff's claims against Defendants City of San Antonio and Officer Sweeney and reissued service as to Defendant Officer Manriquez [#54]. The record reflects that Officer Manriquez filed an answer on May 28, 2019 [#51]. Accordingly, pursuant to Rule 16 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, the Court will set this case for an initial pretrial conference and order the parties to confer as required under Rule 26(f).

         Also pending before the Court is Plaintiff's Motion for Appointment of Counsel [#48]. The Court will deny the motion. Courts may appoint counsel pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(1) in IFP proceedings. Under § 1915(e)(1), the Court has discretion to appoint an attorney to represent a litigant in federal court, but there is no right to the automatic appointment of counsel in a civil case. Akasike v. Fitzpatrick, 26 F.3d 510, 512 (5th Cir. 1994); Cupit v. Jones, 835 F.2d 82, 86 (5th Cir. 1987). Appointment of counsel in a civil case is considered a privilege, not a constitutional right, and should be allowed only in exceptional circumstances. Lopez v. Reyes, 692 F.2d 15, 17 (5th Cir. 1982) (citation omitted); see Cupit, 835 F.2d at 86. In evaluating whether the appointment of counsel is proper under § 1915(e), the district court considers the type and complexity of the case, the litigant's ability to investigate and present the case, and the level of skill required to present the evidence. See Castro Romero v. Becken, 256 F.3d 349, 354 (5th Cir. 2001). Plaintiff has not demonstrated that exceptional circumstances are present in her case or that, based on the record, appointment of counsel is appropriate under the applicable legal standards under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e).

         In light of the fact that Plaintiff is representing herself pro se in this action, the Court directs her to the following resources to assist her in prosecuting her case:

• The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, available at: www.uscourts.gov/file/rules-civil-procedure
• This Court's Local Rules, available at https://www.txwd.uscourts.gov/court-information/lcr-civil-rules/
• The “Complete Pro Se Manual” which is available on the Court's website at: https://www.txwd.uscourts.gov/filing-without-an-attorney/.

         Plaintiff is directed to familiarize herself with these resources. Also, although pro se litigants are held to a less stringent standard, they are nevertheless required to follow the rules that govern all litigants in federal court. Grant v. Cuellar, 59 F.3d 524, 524 (5th Cir. 1995). These rules include but are not limited to the rules and Court orders regarding conference with opposing counsel, following deadlines imposed by the rules and the Court's Scheduling Order, observing the response times for nondispositive and dispositive motions as set forth in Local Rule CV-7(e), and keeping the Court updated with a current address to ensure all filings are received.

         IT IS THEREFORE ORDERED that Plaintiff's Motion for Appointment of Counsel [#48] is DENIED.

         IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that, pursuant to Rule 16 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, this case is set for an Initial Pretrial Conference at 1:30 p.m. on August 28, 2019, in Courtroom B on the 4th Floor of the John H. Wood, Jr. United States Courthouse, 655 E. Cesar Chavez Boulevard, San Antonio, Texas, 78206.

         At the conference, the Court will enter a Scheduling Order in this case and assign the parties a date for a jury or bench trial. Plaintiff and counsel for Defendant Manriquez may appear by phone for the conference. Counsel should contact Valeria Sandoval, the Courtroom Deputy, for call-in information at chestneychambers@txwd.uscourts.gov. The use of speaker phones is prohibited during a telephonic appearance.

         IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the parties confer in the manner required by Rule 26(f) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and submit a Joint Discovery/Case Management Plan that answers the following questions no later than Monday, August 26, 2019:

1. Are there any outstanding jurisdictional issues? For removed cases based on diversity jurisdiction, do the parties agree that the amount in controversy exceeded $75, 000 at the time of removal? If not, each party should state its position on the amount in controversy.
2. Are there any unserved parties? If more than 90 days have passed since the filing of the Complaint or petition, should ...

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