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Pinson v. U. S. Department of Justice

United States District Court, District of Columbia

March 20, 2019

JEREMY PINSON, Plaintiff,
v.
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE, et. al, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION DENYING PLAINTIFF'S MOTIONS FOR ORDER TO SHOW CAUSE; DENYING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR ISSUANCE OF SUBPOENAS; DENYING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR APPOINTMENT OF COUNSEL RE DOCUMENT NO. 34, 36, 39, 40

          RUDOLPH CONTRERAS United States District Judge

         I. INTRODUCTION

         Pro se Plaintiff Jeremy Pinson ("Pinson"), an inmate at the United States Penitentiary in Tucson, Arizona, began this case by filing a Freedom of Information Act ("FOIA") complaint in December 2016. Pinson now files two motions for an order to show cause, a motion for the issuance of subpoenas to the House Government Oversight and Reform Committee, Department of Justice Office of Inspector General, and Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"), and a motion for the appointment of counsel. The Court denies the motions for order to show cause because it finds that Defendants have adequately ensured Pinson is receiving their motions. The Court also denies the motions for the issuance of subpoenas and for appointment of counsel because the motions are premature at this stage in the litigation.

         II. BACKGROUND

         This Court has already discussed the factual background for this case in its prior Memorandum Opinion. See Pinson v. U.S. Dep 't of Justice, No. 18-cv-486, 2018 WL 5464706, at *l-2 (D.D.C. Oct. 29, 2018). The Court assumes familiarity with its prior opinion and confines its discussion to the facts most relevant to the present motions.

         Pinson filed suit on February 21, 2018 against the U.S. Department of Justice ("DO J") and the Central Intelligence Agency ("CIA"). Compl., ECF No. 1. On June 22, 2018, Pinson filed an amended complaint adding as defendants the Bureau of Prisons ("BOP"), U.S. Marshals Service, three additional DOJ component agencies (together with DOJ and the CIA, "Defendants"), and six individual defendants.[1] Am. Compl., ECF No. 16. Defendants have moved for an extension of time to respond to Pinson's amended complaint on multiple occasions. In their fourth such motion, filed on October 31, 2018, Defendants requested an extension of time to January 30, 2019 to respond to the Complaint. Defs.' Fourth Mot. Extension at 2, ECF No. 27. The Court granted the motion on November 16, 2018. Nov. 16, 2018 Order at 1, ECF No. 32.

         On November 19, 2018, Pinson filed a motion for an order to show cause. PL's Mot. Order Show Cause ("PL's Mot. Cause I"), ECF No. 34. In the motion, Pinson asked the Court to order Defendants to show cause as to why they had failed to "supply the plaintiff with dispositive motions or an answer to the Complaint which as of November 10, 2018 the plaintiff still ha[d] not received." PL's Mot. Cause I at 1. Pinson also asserted more generally that Defendants had failed to "adequately mark" the envelopes containing motions, leading to mail not reaching her in a timely manner. Id. In response, Defendants argued that "[s]uch an order [wa]s entirely unnecessary" because the reason Pinson had not received a response to the Complaint was that the deadline for Defendants' response was January 30, 2019. Defs.' Opp. Mot. Order Show Cause ("Defs.' Opp. Cause I") at 1, ECF No. 35. Defendants also stated that they "ensure that any such dispositive motion (like all other filings) are identified as 'legal mail' on the outside of the envelope." Defs.' Opp. Cause I at 1.

         On December 10, 2018, Pinson filed a second motion for an order to show cause, this time seeking an order for Defendants to show cause why their fourth motion for an extension of time had not been delivered to her, and to show cause as to how Defendants would ensure future delivery of motions to her. PL's Second. Mot. Order Show Cause ("PL's Mot. Cause II") at 2, ECF No. 36. In the motion, Pinson asserted that the failure to effectuate service was due to Defendants' counsel "not list[ing] his name, position, and the language in the legal mail regulation ... on the envelope[s]" containing motions, and the mail not being "sent via certified mail." PL's Mot. Cause II at 1. Defendants responded by stating that they label every mailing with "legal mail, open in presence of inmate," meeting the special mail requirements of 28 C.F.R. § 540.18(a). Defs.' Opp. Mot. Order Show Cause ("Defs.' Opp. Cause II") at 1, ECF No. 37. Defendants also argued that Defendants' counsel was not required to include his name or position on the envelope, nor were Defendants required to serve Pinson through certified mail. Id. On January 28, 2019, Defendants filed a fifth motion for extension of time, requesting an extension of the deadline to respond to the amended complaint to March 29, 2019. Defs.' Fifth Mot. Extension at 1. The Court granted the extension on January 29, 2019. Min. Order (Jan. 29, 2019).

         On January 28, 2019, Pinson filed two additional motions, a motion for appointment of counsel and a motion for the issuance of subpoenas. In the motion for appointment of counsel, Pinson claims that a recent news article indicates the House Government Oversight and Reform Committee has issued a report finding "serious misconduct" and a "coverup" by high ranking BOP officials. PL's Mot. Appoint Counsel ("Mot. Appoint") at 1, ECF No. 39. Purportedly quoting directly from the report, the article's author noted that "[s]erious misconduct by senior federal prison officials [was] 'largely tolerated or ignored altogether' under a culture in which some were shielded from discipline." Kevin Johnson, Congress: U.S. Prison Misconduct Regularly 'Covered Up', USA Today, Mot. Appoint Ex. 1, ECF No. 39-1. Pinson asks the Court to appoint counsel to litigate this case on her behalf, in light of the "serious, chronic problem within the Bureau of Prisons with retaliation" evidenced by the article. Mot. Appoint at 2. Pinson claims that she is in need of counsel because she is at a "complete disadvantage to take depositions, navigate the labyrinth[] of technical rules, and is prohibited from communicating with other prisoners who are witnesses." Id.

         In the motion for the issuance of subpoenas, Pinson asks, pursuant Fed.R.Civ.P. Rule 45(a)(3), for the Court to issue subpoenas to "the House Government Oversight and Reform Committee for [] it[]s 9-[p]age report [on the BOP, ] all non-privileged source material used to create the report, and to the Office of Inspector General for all material in it[]s custody or control related to the investigation involving, or leading to, the 9-[p]age House report." Pi's Mot. Subpoena at 2, ECF No. 40.[2] In their response opposing the motion, Defendants argue, inter alia, that Pinson's motion is premature because none of them have filed a response to the first amended complaint, nor has the Court denied any dipositive motions by Defendants. Defs.' Opp. Mot. Subpoena at 1, ECF No. 41.

         III. ANALYSIS

         Pinson has filed two motions for an order to show cause, a motion for the issuance of subpoenas to various government entities, and a motion for the appointment of counsel to assist with the litigation of discovery issues in this case. The Court reviews, and denies, each motion in turn. Because Pinson has not shown that Defendants have been improperly failing to serve her with legal mail, the Court denies the motions for an order to show cause. And because the motion for the issuance of subpoenas and the motion for appointment of counsel are premature at this stage of the litigation, the Court denies them.

         A. Order to Show Cause

         Pinson has filed two motions for an order to show cause, both relating to alleged inadequacies in the service of motions to her in this case. The Court denies both motions. The first motion for an order to show cause why Pinson has not received a dispositive motion or answer in response to the Complaint is premature because the deadline for Defendants to respond has not yet passed. And the second ...


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