United States District Court, D. South Dakota, Central Division
OPINION AND ORDER ON PENDING MOTIONS
ROBERTO A. LANGE UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Eva Taalak (Taalak), an inmate at the South Dakota
Women's Prison, filed a Complaint pro se under 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983 asserting violation of her Eighth Amendment and
First Amendment rights and asserting violation of the
Americans with Disabilities Act. Doc. 1. In ruling on
Talaak's application to proceed in form pauperis, this
Court required payment of a partial filing fee, which Taalak
did pay. Docs. 9, 10.
has three pending motions: a motion to appoint counsel, Doc.
4; a motion to recuse or for change of venue, Doc. 7; and a
motion seeking a copy of her complaint, Doc. 8. The motion to
appoint counsel will be denied. "A pro se litigant has
no statutory or constitutional right to have counsel
appointed in a civil case." Stevens v. Redwing,
146 F.3d 538, 546 (8th Cir. 1998). In determining whether to
appoint counsel, a court considers the complexity of the
case, the ability of the litigant to investigate the facts,
the existence of conflicting testimony, and the
litigant's ability to present the claim. Id.
Taalak's claims are not complex, she knows the facts of
her case, she is able to present her allegations, and there
are no circumstances at this time meriting appointment of
counsel. Of course, this Court can decide at a later time if
circumstances change to appoint counsel. See Williams v.
Carter, 10 F.3d 563, 567 (8th Cr. 1993).
motion to recuse or change venue requests "a new Judge
and a new Jurisdiction" because she believes that she
"would not have a fair case or trial due to [the]
defendant (the So. Dak. Womens Prison) . . . here in Pierre
is [their] stomping ground and [she feels] they know people
in high places here that could influence the outcome."
Doc. 7. The standard for recusal requires that the judge
"must recuse from 'any proceeding in which [the
judge's] impartiality might reasonably be
questioned.'" United States v. Melton, 738
F.3d 903, 905 (8th Cir. 2013) (quoting 28 U.S.C. §
455(a)). The standard is an objective one, in which the
question posed is '"whether the judge's
impartiality might reasonably be questioned by the average
person on the street who knows all the relevant facts of the
case.'" Melton, 738 F.3d at 905 (quoting
Moran v. Clarke. 296 F.3d 638, 648 (8th Cir. 2002)).
In practice, the standard requires a showing that "the
judge had a disposition 'so extreme as to display clear
inability to render fair judgment."'
Melton, 738 F.3d at 905 (quoting United States
v. Denton, 434 F.3d 1104, 1111 (8th Cir. 2006)). Taalak
has made no colorable argument justifying recusal.
changing venue, 28 U.S.C. § 1391(b) governs proper venue
for civil cases in federal courts, Section 1391(b) provides
that a federal civil action may be brought in:
(1) a judicial district where any defendant resides, if all
defendants are residents of the State in which the district
(2) a judicial district in which a substantial part of the
events or omissions giving rise to the claim occurred, or a
substantial part of property that is subject of the action is
(3) if there is no district in which an action may otherwise
be brought as provided in this section, any judicial district
in which any defendant is subject to the court's personal
jurisdiction with respect to such action.
28 U.S.C. § 1391(b). Taalak's claims relate to what
she alleges to be mistreatment at the South Dakota
Women's Prison in Pierre, South Dakota, by those who work
at the prison. Venue in the Central Division of the District
of South Dakota is appropriate. Mere concerns that somehow
state officials know people who might influence the outcome
of this case do not justify transfer of venue and indeed
strike this Court as altogether mistaken. This Court will
rule on matters of this case independently and impartially.
Neither state prison workers nor anyone else have the ability
to influence this Court to rule unjustly.
Taalak's request for a copy of her original complaint
will be granted. Therefore, it is hereby
that the motion to appoint counsel, Doc. 4, is denied. It is
that the motion to recuse or change venue, Doc. 7, is denied.
It is finally
that the request for a copy of the complaint, Doc. 8, is
granted and the Clerk of Court is directed to send the
complaint, Doc. 1, to Taalak, with a copy of this Order. This
Court will conduct the initial ...