United States District Court, W.D. Washington
ORDER DENYING MOTION TO APPOINT COUNSEL
L. ROBART United States District Judge.
the court is Plaintiff Lee Patrick Johnson's motion to
appoint counsel. (Mot. (Dkt. # 18).) Mr. Johnson is
proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis
(“IFP”). (See Am. Compl. (Dkt. # 15);
IFP Order (Dkt. # 3).) The court has considered Mr.
Johnson's motion, the relevant portions of the record,
and the applicable law. Being fully advised,  the court DENIES
Mr. Johnson's motion for the reasons set forth below.
BACKGROUND & ANALYSIS
Johnson filed this suit on March 10, 2017. (See IFP
Mot. (Dkt. # 1).) Mr. Johnson brings constitutional claims
under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against Defendants Sergeant
Michael Allen, Sergeant Schneider, Major Hyatt, Captain
Cline, Director W. Higgs, Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Joseph
Marchesano, and King County (collectively,
“Defendants”) for allegedly mishandling Mr.
Johnson's mail. (See generally Am. Compl. at
3-12.) Mr. Johnson requests court-appointed counsel pursuant
to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(1) because (1) he is
“unable to afford counsel, ” (2) “[t]he
issues involved in this case are complex [and] will require
significant research and investigation, ” (3) his
“case is against defendants that almost certainly have
a higher education” than Mr. Johnson and “an
attorney would be better at articulating [his] claims in
light of the complexity of the legal issues, ” (4) he
“cannot afford to purchase legal reference material,
” and (5) “counsel would better enable [Mr.
Johnson] to present evidence and cross examine
witnesses” at trial. (Mot. at 1-2.) The court now
addresses Mr. Johnson's motion.
district court has “discretion to designate counsel to
represent an indigent civil litigant.” Wilborn v.
Escalderon, 789 F.2d 1328, 1331 (9th Cir. 1986); see
also 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(1) (“The court may
request an attorney to represent any person unable to afford
counsel.”). The court may only do so, however, in
“exceptional circumstances.” Wilborn,
789 F.2d at 1331; see also Agyeman v. Corr. Corp. of
Am., 390 F.3d 1101, 1103 (9th Cir. 2004). The court may
find exceptional circumstances after evaluating “the
likelihood of success on the merits” and “the
ability of the petitioner to articulate his claims pro
se in light of the complexity of the legal issues
involved.” Wilborn, 789 F.2d at 1331. The
court must analyze both of these factors before deciding
whether to appoint counsel under Section 1915(e)(1). See
Id. The plaintiff seeking counsel bears the burden of
demonstrating exceptional circumstances. Brogdon v. City
of Phoenix Police Dep't, No.
CV-11-01389-PHX-RCB(MEA), 2013 WL 3155116, at *1 (D. Ariz.
June 19, 2013).
Johnson makes no argument as to the likelihood of success on
the merits of his claims (see generally Mot.), and
the court therefore cannot conclude that Mr. Johnson is
likely to succeed on the merits. Because Mr. Johnson provides
no evidence of his likelihood of success at trial, he fails
to satisfy the first factor of the test. Torbert v.
Gore, No. 14-cv-2991 BEN (NLS), 2016 WL 1399230, at *1
(S.D. Cal. Apr. 8, 2016).
Mr. Johnson were likely to succeed on the merits of his
claims, however, Mr. Johnson fails to demonstrate that any
difficulty he will experience in attempting to litigate his
case stems “from the complexity of the issues
involved.” Wilborn, 789 F.2d at 1331;
(see Mot. at 1 (stating only that “[t]he
issues involved in this case are complex” and that
“an attorney would be better at articulating my claims
in light of the complexity of the legal issues”).)
Indeed, the constitutional claims that Mr. Johnson alleges
appear to be relatively straightforward. (See Am.
Compl. at 3-8 (alleging violations of the First, Fourth,
Fifth, and Fourteenth Amendments).) That Mr. Johnson might
find “it difficult to articulate his claims pro
se” is insufficient to demonstrate that his case
involves complex legal issues. Wilborn, 789 F.2d at
1331; see also Garcia v. C.D.C.R., No. 12cv1084 IEG
(KSC), 2013 WL 485756, at *1 (S.D. Cal. Feb. 6, 2013) (noting
that exceptional circumstances are not shown even where there
is “no doubt [that] most pro se litigants find
it difficult to articulate their claims and would be better
served with the assistance of counsel”). Accordingly,
Mr. Johnson fails to meet his burden of establishing
exceptional circumstances that warrant the appointment of
counsel. See Wilborn, 789 F.2d at 1331;
Brogdon, 2013 WL 3155116, at *1.
foregoing reasons, the court DENIES Mr. Johnson's motion
to appoint counsel (Dkt. # 18).
 Mr. Johnson did not request oral
argument, and the court determines that oral argument would
not be helpful to its disposition of the motion. See
Local Rules W.D. Wash. LCR 7(b)(4).
 Specifically, Mr. Johnson alleges
violations of the First, Fourth, Fifth, and Fourteenth
Amendments. (See ...