United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle
ORDER GRANTING MOTION TO WITHDRAW AND DENYING
L. Robert, United States District Judge.
the court are: (1) the motion to withdraw as counsel filed by
Matthew Furness, counsel for Plaintiff Isatu Ville (Mot.
(Dkt. # 22)); and (2) Ms. Ville's objection to Mr.
Furness's withdrawal, in which she requests that the
court appoint her new counsel if the court grants Mr.
Furness's motion (Resp. (Dkt. # 23)). Defendant First
Choice in Home Care does not object to either the motion or
the request. (See Dkt.) The court has considered the
submissions in support of and in opposition to the motion and
request, the relevant portions of the record, and the
applicable law. Being fully advised, the court GRANTS Mr.
Furness's motion to withdraw as counsel and DENIES Ms.
Ville's request to appoint new counsel.
BACKGROUND AND DISCUSSION
attorney seeking to withdraw must serve the motion on the
client and opposing counsel. Local Rules W.D. Wash. LCR
83.2(b)(1). "If a withdrawal will leave a party
unrepresented, the motion to withdraw must include the
party's address and telephone number." Id.
An attorney in a civil case will ordinarily be permitted to
withdraw until 60 days before the discovery cutoff date.
Furness certified that he served the motion on Ms. Ville and
opposing counsel, and informed Ms. Ville that she would be
responsible for managing her case unless she finds a new
attorney. (See Mot. at 1, 3; Mot. at 1, Ex. A (Dkt.
# 22-1).) Mr. Furness's motion includes Ms. Ville's
address (see Mot. at 1, Ex. A), but it fails to
include Ms. Ville's telephone number (see
generally Mot.). However, Ms. Ville has independently
provided the court with her phone number on numerous
occasions. (See, e.g., 1/2/18 Letter (Dkt. # 18) at
6; Resp. at 1.) The discovery cutoff date in this case is
July 9, 2018. (See Min. Order (Dkt. #17).) Mr.
Furness's motion therefore sufficiently complies with the
local rules. See Local Rules W.D. Wash. LCR
Furness's motion to withdraw is based on
"[substantial and irreconcilable differences concerning
the course and scope of counsel's representation as well
as the case itself between him and Ms. Ville. (Mot. at 1.)
The letters that Ms. Ville has filed with the court
underscore the breadth of the differences. (See
1/2/18 Letter; 1/12/18 Letter (Dkt. # 20).) In her letters,
Ms. Ville complains that Mr. Furness refuses to "file
[her] case" and requests that the court decide the case.
(See 1/2/18 Letter at 1-2; 1/12/18 Letter at 1-2.)
Ms. Ville also attaches email correspondence between herself
and Mr. Furness, in which Mr. Furness advises her on the
merits and strategy for her case. (See, e.g.,
1/12/18 Letter at 4.) Mr. Furness further attempted to obtain
a stipulated withdrawal from this case once he realized he
had "a major conflict" with Ms. Ville in how to
proceed, but Ms. Ville refused. (See Id. at 7-9.)
Having reviewed the record, the court grants Mr.
Furness's motion to withdraw.
complaint, Ms. Ville alleges employment discrimination based
on race, gender, national origin, and retaliation in
violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. (Compl. (Dkt.
# 5) at 2.) The court originally appointed Ms. Ville counsel.
(See 6/5/07 Order (Dkt. #13).) A 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). However,
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(1), this court has the
discretion to appoint counsel for indigent litigants
proceeding in forma pauperis. United States v. $292,
888.04 in US. Currency, 54 F.3d 564, 569 (9th Cir.
1995). The court may appoint counsel only on a showing of
"exceptional circumstances." Id.; Wilborn v.
Escalderon, 789 F.2d 1328, 1331 (9th Cir. 1986). "A
finding of exceptional circumstances requires an evaluation
of both the likelihood of success on the merits and the
ability of the plaintiff to articulate his claims pro
se in light of the complexity of the legal issues
involved." Wilborn, 789 F.2d at 1331. These
factors must be viewed together before reaching a decision on
a request for counsel under § 1915(e)(1). Id.
the court finds that Ms. Ville has failed to show exceptional
circumstances. In particular, Ms. Ville's repeated
filings with the court show that she is able to articulate
the legal and factual bases of her claims. (See
1/2/18 Letter; 1/12/18 Letter; Resp.) Ms. Ville appears
capable of expressing herself. (See id.) In
addition, despite her ability to articulate her case, Ms.
Ville's filings have called into question the merits of
her claim, which further weighs against appointing counsel.
(See, e.g., 1/12/18 Letter at 7.) Accordingly, the
court denies Ms. Ville's request to appoint new counsel
at this time. (See Resp. at 1.) The court advises
Ms. Ville that she must represent herself pro se
unless and until she is able to retain counsel and counsel
enters an appearance on her behalf in this case. Materials to
assist pro se litigants are available on the United
States District Court for the Western District of
Washington's website. Nevertheless, pro se
litigants are responsible for complying with all of the
applicable deadlines and court rules, including the Federal
Rules of Civil Procedure and the Western District of
Washington's Local Rules, which can also be found on the
Western District of Washington's website. See, e.g.,
Solis v. McKessen, 465 Fed.Appx. 709, 710 (9th Cir.
2012) ("Pro se litigants must follow the same rules of
procedure that govern other litigants.")
foregoing reasons, the court GRANTS Mr. Fumess's motion
to withdraw (Dkt. # 22) and DENIES Ms. Ville's request
that the court appoint new counsel (Dkt. # 23). The court
also DIRECTS the Clerk to send a copy of this Order to Mr.
Furness and counsel for Defendant First Choice in ...