United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle
ORDER DENYING MOTION TO APPOINT COUNSEL
L. ROBART, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
the court is Plaintiff Selim Umit Kucuk's motion to
appoint counsel. (MTAC (Dkt. # 14).) Defendant Central
Washington University (“CWU”) opposes the motion.
(Resp. (Dkt. # 16).) The court has considered the motion and
CWU's response,  the relevant portions of the record, and
the applicable law. Being fully advised,  the court denies
August 21, 2017, Mr. Kucuk filed this lawsuit alleging
employment discrimination and other claims against CWU.
(See generally Mot. for IFP (Dkt. # 1); Compl. (Dkt.
# 3).) On August 22, 2017, the court granted Mr. Kucuk's
motion for in forma pauperis status. (IFP Order
(Dkt. # 2).)
motion seeking court-appointed counsel, Mr. Kucuk states that
he has contacted “over a dozen of [sic] lawyers”
during the past three to four months. (MTAC at 2.) He states
that “although the majority of attorneys saw a [sic]
merit in [his] case, ” they declined to accept his case
because they do not take contingency fee cases.
(Id.) He acknowledges that the Equal Opportunity
Employment Commission (“EEOC”) did not find
“reasonable cause” to believe his allegations had
merit. (Id.) He does not provide his own statement
concerning why his claims have merit. (See generally
plaintiff has no constitutional right to appointed counsel in
an employment discrimination suit. Ivey v. Bd. of Regents
of Univ. of Alaska, 673 F.2d 266, 269 (9th Cir. 1982).
Nevertheless, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964
provides in pertinent part that:
Upon application by the complainant and in such circumstances
as the court may deem just, the court may appoint an attorney
for such complainant and may authorize the commencement of
the action without the payment of fees, costs, or security.
42 U.S.C. § 2000e-5(f)(1)(B). Although the court
possesses the authority to appoint counsel, the court is not
obligated to appoint counsel in every employment
discrimination case. Johnson v. U.S. Dep't of
Treasury, 939 F.2d 820, 824 (9th Cir. 1991) (citing
Ivey, 673 F.2d at 269). Rather, the determination is
left to the sound discretion of the district court.
Id. The three factors relevant to the court's
determination of whether to appoint counsel, include: (1) the
plaintiff's financial resources; (2) the efforts made by
the plaintiff to secure counsel on his or her own; and (3)
the merits of the plaintiff's claim. Johnson v. U.S.
Treasury Dep't, 27 F.3d 415, 417 (9th Cir. 1994).
first factor-the plaintiff's financial resources-favors
the appointment of counsel. Mr. Kucuk has already been
granted in forma pauperis status (see IFP
Order), and so he is unlikely to have the financial resources
necessary to obtain private counsel.
court concludes that the second factor-the plaintiff's
efforts to secure counsel-is either neutral or does not favor
the appointment of counsel. In Bradshaw v. Zoological
Soc'y of San Diego, the Ninth Circuit found that a
plaintiff's efforts to contact more than ten attorneys
demonstrated “the requisite degree of diligence . . .
to secure counsel.” 662 F.2d 1301, 1319 (9th Cir.
1981). However, in Bradshaw, the plaintiff's
motion was supported by “affidavits . . . detailing her
unsuccessful efforts to obtain an attorney.”
Id. at 1303. Unlike the plaintiff in
Bradshaw, Mr. Kucuk does little to explain or detail
his efforts. In his motion, Mr. Kucuk states that he has
“contacted over a dozen of [sic] lawyers” within
the “last 3-4 months, ” but that all of the
attorneys declined to take his case because they did not
accept cases on a contingency fee basis. (MTAC at 2.) He does
not detail any efforts to locate an attorney who specifically
handles employment or contingency fee cases, and he does not
indicate whether he checked with any associations or entities
that could assist him in locating an attorney to represent
him on a pro bono or contingency fee basis. See
Shepherd-Sampson v. Paratransit Servs., No. C13-5888
BHS, 2014 WL 3728768, at *2 (W.D. Wash. July 25, 2014)
(denying motion to appoint counsel in part because the
plaintiff did “little to explain her efforts to secure
her own counsel”). Thus, although with sufficient
explanation Mr. Kucuk's efforts to contact over a dozen
lawyers might satisfy “the requisite degree of
diligence” to secure counsel, Bradshaw, 662
F.2d at 1319, it does not here. The court acknowledges that
Mr. Kucuk need not “‘exhaust the legal
directory' as a prerequisite to the appointment of
counsel.” Id. Nevertheless, for the court to
conclude that Mr. Kucuk “has done all that may
reasonably be expected, ” more detail than what is
provided concerning his search is necessary.
the court concludes that the last factor-the merit of
plaintiff's claim- also does not favor the appointment of
counsel. Mr. Kucuk acknowledges that the EEOC did not find
“reasonable cause” to believe his allegations
have merit. (MTAC at 2.) The Ninth Circuit has stated that
“[i]f the agency has found ‘reasonable cause,
' . . . the claim should ordinarily be deemed meritorious
for purposes of appointment of counsel, and the court need
make no further inquiry with respect to that subject.”
Bradshaw, 662 F.2d at 1309. However, “an EEOC
determination that no reasonable cause supports the
plaintiff's claim should be approached somewhat
differently.” Id. at 1309 n.20.
it is still relevant, the refusal to appoint counsel solely
because the EEOC finds no reasonable cause to believe that a
claim exists would be error. See id.; see also
Caston v. Sears, Roebuck & Co., 556 F.2d 1305,
1308-09 (5th Cir. 1977) (concluding that EEOC finding of no
reasonable cause is highly probative but not determinative);
Harris v. Walgreen's Distrib. Ctr., 456 F.2d
588, 590 (6th Cir.1972) (concluding that it is error for the
district court to rely solely upon an EEOC finding of no
probable cause). Although the court takes note of the
EEOC's negative determination, the court does not rely
solely on that determination in concluding that the third
factor does not favor the appointment of counsel. Here, in