United States District Court, E.D. North Carolina, Western Division
W. FLANAGAN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
a state inmate proceeding pro se, filed this civil rights
action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The matter now is
before the court for frivolity review of plaintiff's
complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915, and on
plaintiff's motions to proceed with preliminary hearings,
(DE 12) and to appoint counsel, (DE 13).
court begins with plaintiff's motion to appoint counsel.
Plaintiff requests appointment of counsel because she does
not have legal training and does not “understand”
the proceedings. There is no constitutional right to counsel
in civil cases, and courts should exercise their discretion
to appoint counsel for pro se civil litigants “only in
exceptional cases.” Cook v. Bounds, 518 F.2d
779, 780 (4th Cir. 1975). The existence of exceptional
circumstances justifying appointment of counsel depends upon
“the type and complexity of the case, and the abilities
of the individuals bringing it.” Whisenant v.
Yuam, 739 F.2d 160, 163 (4th Cir. 1984), abrogated
on other grounds by Mallard v. U.S. Dist. Court for the S.
Dist. of Iowa, 490 U.S. 296 (1989) (quoting Branch
v. Cole, 686 F.2d 264, 265 (5th Cir. 1982)); see
also Gordon v. Leeke, 574 F.2d 1147, 1153 (4th Cir.
1978) (“If it is apparent . . . that a pro se litigant
has a colorable claim but lacks capacity to present it, the
district court should appoint counsel to assist him.”).
Plaintiff has failed to demonstrate that this case is one in
which exceptional circumstances merit appointment of counsel,
and she has demonstrated through her filings that she is
capable of proceeding pro se. Accordingly, the court denies
plaintiff's motion to the extent she seeks general
appointment of counsel. Plaintiff, however, is entitled to
appointment of North Carolina Prisoner Legal Services, Inc.
(“NCPLS”) to assist in discovery pursuant to
standing order 17-SO-03, and the court will address
appointment of NCPLS in a forthcoming order.
court next turns to plaintiff's motion to proceed with
preliminary hearings. Plaintiff's motion primarily
requests appointment of her husband, Scottie Graves, to
represent her in this action. Pursuant to the court's
Local Civil Rules, a party who is not proceeding pro se must
be represented by a licensed attorney. See Local
Civil. Rule 83.1(d). Plaintiff's husband is not a
licensed attorney, and the court therefore denies the motion.
Plaintiff, however, may continue proceeding pro se in this
action. The court additionally denies plaintiff and her
husband's request for free copies of all filings in this
action. Plaintiff is responsible for maintaining her legal
records. The court or defendants' counsel will serve
relevant filings on plaintiff in accordance with Federal Rule
Civil Procedure 5.
court next turns to the frivolity review of plaintiff's
amended complaint. Section 1915 provides that courts shall
review complaints filed by prisoners seeking leave to proceed
in forma pauperis and dismiss such complaints when they are
frivolous, malicious, or fail to state a claim on which
relief may be granted. 28 U.S.C. §
1915(e)(2)(B)(i)-(ii). Plaintiffs claims are not clearly
frivolous. Accordingly, this action is allowed to proceed.
on the foregoing, the court DENIES plaintiff s motions to
appoint counsel, (DE 13), and for preliminary hearings, (DE
12). The court ALLOWS the action to proceed as to the
defendants named in plaintiffs complaint and DIRECTS the
clerk to amend the docket to reflect that Sergeant Woresly,
Sergeant Hucherson, and Stacy O'Neal are named defendants
in this action. The clerk is DIRECTED to proceed in
accordance with standing order 14-SO-02, which governs
service of process in state prisoner civil rights cases. In
the event it becomes necessary, the court DIRECTS the United
States Marshals Service to serve process on defendants
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(d). The clerk is further
DIRECTED to proceed in accordance with standing order
17-SO-03 governing appointment of North Carolina Prisoner
Legal Services, Inc. to assist in discovery.
 The court constructively has amended
the caption of this order to reflect all defendants named in
plaintiff's complaint and will direct the clerk to amend