ADOPTION OF A PERMANENT PROGRAM FOR COURT APPOINTMENT OF PRO BONO COUNSEL
Effective December 1, 2014, the U.S. District Court adopted Local Attorney Rule 15, titled Civil Pro Bono Representation, which implements the court's Civil Pro Bono Panel Plan. The Plan is a program consisting of volunteer attorneys willing to represent individuals of limited financial means (not strictly limited to the "indigent") in civil matters whenever requested by the Court and without compensation. As a means to assist unrepresented ("pro se") parties, the court has established a panel of attorneys who are members in good standing of the Bar of the district court and who have agreed to accept pro bono appointments by the court to represent pro se litigants (plaintiff or defendant) in civil cases.
The following unrepresented parties are eligible for appointment of pro bono counsel:
- after initial review of the complaint by the Pro Se division of the court, a non-prisoner, unrepresented party who has been granted leave to proceed in forma pauperis (IFP) under 28 U.S.C. § 1915;
- after initial review of the complaint by the Pro Se division of the court, an unrepresented prisoner; and
- after demonstrating limited financial means, a non-prisoner, unrepresented party who has paid the filing fee in full.
The Court initiates the appointment process by granting a pro se litigant's (prisoner or non-prisoner) motion for appointment of counsel, and after the case has undergone initial review for merit through the process required under D.C.COLO.LCivR 8.1 and 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. Cases are randomly assigned by the clerk, according to counsel's preferences. Appointed Panel members have a five-day period of time to run a conflicts check, review the case, gain internal approval, etc., before contacting the Clerk's office and accepting or rejecting the case.
After a Notice of Appointment is entered in the case by the clerk, indicating the draw of the name of the appointed attorney (as an individual or as the coordinating attorney for a law firm), the attorney then has 30 days to formally enter an appearance in the case, or file a Notice Declining Appointment.
Please note that, while the court on its own initiative has the discretion to decide whether a pro se litigant should be assisted by appointed counsel, the responsibility for the court taking action in appointing counsel lies primarily on the pro se litigant himself/herself -- by requiring the pro se litigant to file a motion (request to the court) for appointment of counsel. In such a motion, certain factors must be addressed and explained, as described in Local Rule LAttyR 15(f). A Sample form is attached below (in Microsoft Word format or Adobe Acrobat Portable Document Format) for Pro Se Litigants' use to make such a request to the court.
A link to the local rule implementing the Civil Pro Bono Plan can be found below. Sample forms that unrepresented parties may use to submit a motion (request to the court) for appointment of counsel from the Civil Pro Bono Panel can be found on our Forms Page under the headings Self Representation (Pro Se) and Civil Pro Bono.
Download Local Rule LAttyR 15 - Civil Pro Bono Representation