United States District Court, D. Maryland
L. Hollander United States District Judge
February 8, 2017, Ilya Braude, plaintiff, brought suit
against Alla Vilnyanskaya, the self-represented defendant,
alleging claims of defamation and invasion of privacy - false
light. ECF 4. Braude alleges that Vilnyanskaya, with whom he
was previously in a relationship (id. ¶ 5),
repeatedly made false claims in public places and also to
Braude's former employer, claiming that Braude had
sexually assaulted and otherwise abused her. See,
e.g., id. ¶¶ 14, 37. Vilnyanskaya
moved to dismiss the Complaint on March 20, 2017. ECF 11.
Braude responded in opposition on March 31, 2017 (ECF 16) and
Vilnyanskaya replied on April 18, 2017. ECF 18.
April 7, 2017, during the pendency of the motion to dismiss,
Vilnyanskaya filed a “Motion for an appointment of
council [sic].” ECF 17. By Order of April 11, 2017, I
denied the motion. ECF 20. But, sua sponte, I stayed
the case for thirty days to provide defendant with time to
seek counsel. Id. On April 19, 2017, defendant filed
a motion for reconsideration of my decision to deny her
motion to appoint counsel. ECF 21. By Order of April 21,
2017, I denied, without prejudice, the motion for
reconsideration. ECF 23.
10, 2017, Mark Sobel, Esq., entered his appearance on behalf
of Vilnyanskaya. In light of Mr. Sobel's entry of
appearance, by Order of May 12, 2017, I denied
defendant's motion to dismiss (ECF 11), without
prejudice, and provided time for counsel to answer or move to
dismiss the Complaint, consistent with Fed.R.Civ.P. 12. ECF
later on May 12, 2017, Mr. Sobel moved to withdraw as counsel
(ECF 28), stating that Vilnyanskaya had discharged him and
instructed him not to contact her. ECF 28. Then, on May 15,
2017, defendant filed a notice of dismissal of Mr. Sobel. ECF
15, 2017, the Clerk docketed several motions from
Vilnyanskaya: a “Motion for Reconsideration of
Defendant's Motion for Appointment of Council
[sic]” (ECF 30, “Motion for
Reconsideration”); a “Motion for the sealing of
documents related to the case” (ECF 31, “Motion
to Seal”); a “Motion for a Change of Venue”
(ECF 32); and a “Motion to Request a Hearing”
(ECF 34) (collectively, “Motion”).
hearing is necessary to resolve the Motions. See
Local Rule 105.6. For the reasons that follow, I shall deny
each of the motions, without prejudice.
Motion for Reconsideration
Motion for Reconsideration (ECF 30), Vilnyanskaya asks the
Court reconsider its prior rulings (ECF 20; ECF 23) denying
her requests to appoint counsel, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
Orders of April 11, 2017 (ECF 20) and April 21, 2017 (ECF
23), I explained that a federal district court's power to
appoint counsel in civil actions under 28 U.S.C. §
1915(e)(1) is a discretionary one, and may be considered
where an indigent claimant presents exceptional
circumstances. See Cook v. Bounds, 518 F.2d
779, 780 (4th Cir. 1975); see also Branch v. Cole,
686 F.2d 264, 266 (5th Cir. 1982). The question of whether
such circumstances exist in a particular case hinges on the
characteristics of the claim and the litigant. See
Whisenant v. Yuam, 739 F.2d 160, 163 (4th Cir. 1984),
abrogated on other grounds by Mallard v. U.S. District
Court, 490 U.S. 296, 298 (1989).
defendant had failed to provide sufficient evidence of
indigency, in my Order of April 21, 2017 (ECF 23), I stated
that, if she wanted to renew her request for the appointment
of counsel, she must complete an “Application to
Proceed in District Court Without Prepaying Fees or
Costs” (“Form”). Id. I also
directed the Clerk to mail a copy of the Form to defendant.
Although I noted that the Form is ordinarily used by pro se
plaintiffs, I explained that the information
required by the Form would be pertinent in assessing
defendant's financial situation. Id.
Vilnyanskaya did not provide a copy of the Form with her
Motion for Reconsideration. See ECF 30.
in ECF 23, I explained, id. at 3:
The appointment of counsel would require an attorney admitted
to practice in this Court to provide legal services in a
civil case, without compensation for his or her efforts.
Before the Court requires an attorney to provide free legal
services to the defendant, she should attempt to obtain legal
representation from one of the several community
organizations that provide such services.
Vilnyanskaya states that she contacted several entities in
the greater Baltimore area that provide pro bono legal
services, without success, defendant does not explain how she
was able to retain Mr. Sobel. Nor does she offer any
explanation for why she immediately discharged him.
See ECF 29; ECF 30. Moreover, Vilnyanskaya did not
dispute the claim of Michael J. Harper, Esq., a Pennsylvania
attorney who represents defendant's mother, to the ...