United States District Court, D. South Dakota, Southern Division
ORDER DENYING MOTIONS FOR APPOINTMENT OF COUNSEL
DOCKET NOS. 14 & 36
VERONICA L. DUFFY, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
matter is before the court on the pro se complaint
of plaintiff Cody Caskey, an inmate at the South Dakota State
Penitentiary (SDSP). Mr. Caskey has filed two motions seeking
court-appointed counsel. See Docket Nos. 14 and 36.
civil litigants do not have a constitutional or statutory
right to appointed counsel." Edgington v. Missouri
Dep't of Corrections, 52 F.3d 777, 780 (8th Cir.
1995). The factors relevant to evaluating a request for
appointment of counsel include "whether both the
plaintiff and the court will benefit from the appointment of
counsel, taking into account the factual and legal complexity
of the case, the presence or absence of conflicting
testimony, and the plaintiff's ability to investigate the
facts and present his claim." Davis v. Scott,
94 F.3d 444, 447 (8th Cir. 1996).
case is not factually complex. Plaintiff alleges defendants
are denying him treatment for gender dysphoria in violation
of the Eighth Amendment's prohibition against cruel and
unusual punishment. He also alleges defendants are
retaliating against him for successfully pursuing a prior
lawsuit against a corrections officer who was allegedly a
friend of the current warden at the SDSP. See Caskey v.
South Dakota State Penitentiary, Civ. No. 14-4010
(D.S.D.). In screening Mr. Caskey's complaint, the
district court set forth the applicable law. See
Docket No. 11.
case is not legally complex. The law regarding
plaintiff's Eighth Amendment claim is well-settled, and
requires that plaintiff "prove that he suffered from one
or more objectively serious medical needs, and that prison
officials actually knew of but deliberately disregarded those
needs." Roberson v. Bradshaw, 198 F.3d 645, 647
(8th Cir. 1999). A serious medical need is "one that has
been diagnosed by a physician as requiring treatment, or one
that is so obvious that even a layperson would easily
recognize the necessity for a doctor's attention."
Camberos v. Branstad, 73 F.3d 174, 176 (8th Cir.
1995) (quotation marks and citation omitted). The law further
provides that "[d]eliberate indifference may be
demonstrated by prison guards who intentionally interfere
with prescribed treatment, or by prison doctors who fail to
respond to prisoner's serious medical needs. Mere
negligence or medical malpractice, however, are insufficient
to rise to a constitutional violation." Dulany v.
Carnahan, 132 F.3d 1234, 1239 (8th Cir. 1997) (citing
Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 104-06 (1976)).
regarding retaliation is likewise well defined. “A
prisoner's Eighth Amendment rights are violated if prison
officials ‘impose a disciplinary sanction against a
prisoner in retaliation for the prisoner's exercise of
his constitutional right.' ” Meuir v. Greene
County Jail Employees, 487 F.3d 1115, 1119 (8th Cir.
2007). See also Haynes v. Stephenson, 588 F.3d 1152,
115 (8th Cir. 2009). A prima facie case of
retaliatory discipline requires a plaintiff to show (1) that
he exercised a constitutionally protected right, (2) that he
was subsequently disciplined by prison officials, and (3) the
motive for imposing the discipline was the exercise of the
constitutional right. Id.
prevail on a claim of retaliation for violation of a First
Amendment right, the plaintiff must show (1) that he engaged
in a protected activity, (2) that the government defendant
took adverse action against the plaintiff that would chill a
person of ordinary firmness from continuing in the activity;
and (3) that the adverse action was motivated at least in
part by the exercise of the protected activity. Santiago
v. Blair, 707 F.3d 984, 991 (8th Cir. 2013).
third element of the prima facie case requires the
plaintiff to show that, “but for” the retaliatory
motive, the disciplinary action would not have been taken.
Haynes, 588 F.3d at 1156. The “but for”
test applies to the defendants' motive, not to causation.
Beaulieu v. Ludeman, 690 F.3d 1017, 1025 (8th Cir.
all individuals untrained in the law, plaintiff may benefit
from the assistance of counsel, but the court does not find
it necessary to appoint counsel in this matter. The court
would not benefit from the assistance of counsel at this
point in the proceedings. Plaintiff, although incarcerated,
is able to investigate the facts of his claim. It is not
clear at the present time whether there will be conflicting
testimony in this case. The legal issues involved do not
appear to be legally complex at this point in the
proceedings. Finally, Mr. Caskey more than adequately
represented himself in his prior litigation filed in 2014. He
defended his case from a motion to dismiss and obtained a
settlement from defendants. Considering all the ...