United States District Court, Western District of Virginia, Roanoke Division
October 28, 2014
KELVIN A. CANADA, ET AL., Plaintiffs,
HAROLD CLARKE, ET AL., Defendants.
Kelvin A. Canada, Pro Se Plaintiff.
OPINION AND ORDER
JAMES P. JONES UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Plaintiff, one of a group of eight Virginia inmates proceeding pro se, filed this action as a civil rights complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, challenging the current system of classifying segregation inmates at Red Onion State Prison. By separate order, the court conditionally filed the action and required each of the plaintiffs to provide information concerning his exhaustion of administrative remedies and activity in his inmate trust account. The court’s order also notified the plaintiffs that in order to be a party to this lawsuit, each of them must sign and return a copy of the complaint and must sign any motion submitted to the court in the case. Plaintiff Kelvin Canada, who declares himself as the representative for the class, has filed motions seeking appointment of counsel, classification of this case as a class action, and an extension of time for him to prepare a response to the court’s conditional filing order on behalf of all the plaintiffs.
It is inappropriate to certify a class in this action, where a pro se litigant seeks to represent the interests of the class. See Oxendine v. Williams, 509 F.2d 1405, 1407 (4th Cir. 1975) (“[I]t is plain error to permit this imprisoned litigant who is unassisted by counsel to represent his fellow inmates in a class action.”). I also do not find that the issue in this case or the plaintiffs’ circumstances warrant exceptional circumstances justifying appointment of counsel at this time. See Cook v. Bounds, 518 F.2d 779, 780 (4th Cir. 1975) (finding appointment of counsel to an indigent civil plaintiff only appropriate upon showing of exceptional circumstances).
For the stated reasons, it is hereby ORDERED that the motions for certification as a class action and appointment of counsel (ECF Nos. 2 & 8) are DENIED, and Canada’s motion seeking an extension of time (ECF No. 7), which can apply only to himself as a plaintiff, is GRANTED and he is DIRECTED to respond to the conditional filing order within 21 days from entry of this order.