United States District Court, District of Columbia
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
P. Mehta United States District Judge.
Marcus C. Gaskins has filed a motion for appointment of
counsel. See Pl.'s Renewed Mot. for
Ct.-Appointed Att'y, ECF No. 26 [hereinafter Pl.'s
Mot.]. For the reasons explained below, Plaintiff's
motion is denied without prejudice.
determining whether to appoint counsel in a civil case, the
court ordinarily would be guided by the factors set forth in
Local Civil Rule 83.11(b)(3). But this case involves a claim
of employment discrimination under Title VII, see
Mem. to Parties, ECF No. 21, at 1-2 (Russell, J.) (construing
Plaintiff's complaint to assert employment discrimination
and retaliation claims under Title VII),  and therefore
involves a slightly different standard, Mokhtar v.
Kerry, 285 F.Supp.3d 56, 57 (D.D.C. 2014); see
Willis v. FBI, 274 F.3d 531, 532-33 (D.C. Cir. 2001).
Title VII specifically provides that, “[u]pon
application by the complainant and in such circumstances as
the court may deem just, the court may appoint an attorney
for such complainant.” 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-5(f)(1).
The D.C. Circuit has directed that a request for counsel
under this provision requires trial courts to consider the
following factors: “(1) the ability of the plaintiff to
afford an attorney; (2) the merits of the plaintiff's
case; (3) the efforts of the plaintiff to secure counsel; and
(4) the capacity of the plaintiff to present the case
adequately without aid of counsel.” Poindexter v.
FBI, 737 F.2d 1173, 1185 (D.C. Cir. 1984). Importantly,
while the D.C. Circuit has recognized that Local Civil Rule
83.11 “differs only slightly from the
Poindexter factors, ” see Willis, 274
F.3d at 533, the Circuit acknowledged in Poindexter
that the relevant appointment provision under Title VII is
“generally viewed as imposing a lesser burden on
plaintiffs seeking appointment of counsel, both because of
the specificity of Congress' action . . . and because
this provision does not require that the plaintiff be a
pauper, ” see Id. (alteration in original)
(quoting Poindexter, 737 F.2d at 1182 n.18).
court begins with the first Poindexter
factor-Plaintiff's ability to afford counsel. “In
evaluating the plaintiff's ability to afford counsel, a
court should not insist that a plaintiff be destitute, nor
should it demand as substantial a showing as that required to
proceed in forma pauperis.” See
Poindexter, 737 F.2d at 1186 (footnote omitted). Rather,
as the Circuit explained in Poindexter: “Given
Congress' concern about the financial burden resulting
from attorneys' fees, appointment surely should not be
refused because of a plaintiff's income or assets if
payment of fees would jeopardize the plaintiff's ability
to maintain the necessities of life.” Id.
Plaintiff's Renewed Motion provides little information
about his present financial circumstances, except to say that
he is “currently unemployed.” Pl.'s Mot. at
1. Other docket entries, by contrast, suggest that Plaintiff
may have some resources to secure counsel. In denying
Plaintiff's motion for leave to proceed in forma
pauperis, prior to his case's transfer, see
supra note 1, Judge Russell held that, although
Plaintiff indicated that he has substantial student loan debt
and that his monthly income barely exceeds his monthly
expenses, Plaintiff was not entitled to in forma pauperis
status given his monthly income of approximately $4, 000 and
other assets totaling $8, 000. See Order, ECF No. 3.
Thus, Plaintiff's precise financial circumstances are
unclear. Nevertheless, for present purposes, the court will
assume that there is at least some financial need. Cf.
Mokhtar, 285 F.Supp.3d at 58 (finding it unnecessary to
evaluate the remaining Poindexter factors where the
plaintiff's motion for appointment of counsel gave the
court “no information from which to evaluate whether
she [was] capable of affording counsel”).
remaining Poindexter factors, however, all weigh
against the appointment of counsel at this early stage of the
proceedings. First, as to the merits of Plaintiff's
claims, his “chance of prevailing, ” see
Poindexter, 737 F.2d at 1187, remains very much in
doubt. Defendant has filed a Motion for Summary Judgment and,
although Plaintiff has yet to file a response, Plaintiff
would appear to face an uphill climb, at a minimum, in
demonstrating that Defendant subjected him to an adverse
action. See Def.'s Mot. for Summ. J., ECF No.
24, at 3-4. If Plaintiff survives summary judgment, the court
might take a different view. Cf. Robinson-Reeder v. Am.
Council on Educ., 626 F.Supp.2d 11, 16 (D.D.C. 2009) (in
denying appointment of counsel, noting among other factors
that the plaintiff's “claim ha[d] not yet withstood
a motion to dismiss on substantive grounds or a motion to
dismiss for summary judgment”).
Plaintiff “has made no showing whatsoever with respect
to whether [he] has made ‘a reasonably diligent effort
under the circumstances to obtain counsel.'”
Robinson-Reeder, 626 F.Supp.2d at 16 (quoting
Poindexter, 737 F.3d at 1188); see
Pl.'s Mot. at 1. Although a plaintiff need not
“exhaust the legal directory before a court could
appoint him an attorney, ” Pointexter, 737
F.3d at 1188 (internal quotation mark omitted), Plaintiff has
not given any indication of any effort made towards securing
as to whether Plaintiff is unable to adequately present his
case without counsel, Plaintiff does not make that claim.
See Pl. 's Mot. Moreover, Plaintiff appears to
have successfully navigated the administrative review
process, see Notice to Court, ECF No. 27, at 1-no
easy task-and has articulated at least part of the factual
basis for his forthcoming opposition, see id at 2-3,
giving the court reason to believe that he has the capacity
to address the relatively uncomplicated legal and factual
issues presented in this case. Cf. Poindexter, 737
F.2d at 1188-89. Plaintiff thus has not shown that
court-appointed counsel is needed at this juncture to present
after carefully reviewing the Poindexter factors and
Plaintiff s motion, the court determines that appointment of
counsel is not warranted at this time. The court is prepared
to revisit this decision should this matter proceed to
discovery or trial. Accordingly, Plaintiffs Motion for
Appointment of Counsel, ECF No. 26, is denied without
 Plaintiff originally filed this case
in the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland.
See Compl., ECF No. 1. On April 25, 2018, Judge
George L. Russell, III, entered an order transferring the
case to this jurisdiction. See Mem. to Parties, ECF
 The court notes that Defendant here
filed a motion for summary judgment before filing an
answer and thus before commencing discovery. That tactic,
though unusual, is not improper. See Parker v. U.S.
Dep't of Justice, 214 F.Supp.3d 79, 85 (D.D.C.
2016). What that means, however, is that Plaintiff can defeat
summary judgment simply by convincing the court that he needs
to take discovery to adequately respond to Defendant's
motion. To do so, Plaintiff must submit a declaration along
with his opposition that requests relief under Federal Rule
of Civil Procedure 56(d) and specifically states: (1) the
particular facts he intends to discover and why those facts
are necessary to the litigation; (2) why plaintiff could not
produce those facts in his opposition; and (3) that the
information is in fact discoverable. See Crowley v.
Vilsack, 236 ...