The court has established a Civil Trial Assistance Panel (CTAP) to provide legal representation to indigent civil litigants when necessary. The CTAP is governed by Local Rule 4-6.
The presiding judge will call on CTAP counsel to represent pro se litigants in civil cases under certain circumstances. The Seventh Circuit has instructed district courts to make the following inquiries when confronted with a request for pro bono counsel: "(1) has the indigent plaintiff made a reasonable attempt to obtain counsel or been effectively precluded from doing so; and if so, (2) given the difficulty of the case, does the plaintiff appear competent to litigate it himself?" Pruitt v. Mote, 503 F.3d 647, 654-655 (7th Cir. 2007). This inquiry requires the court to examine "whether the difficulty of the case — factually and legally — exceeds the particular plaintiff’s capacity as a layperson to coherently present it." Navejar v. Iyiola, 718 F.3d 692, 696 (7th Cir. 2013)(citing Pruitt, 503 F.3d at 655). This inquiry focuses not only the plaintiff’s ability to try his case, but also includes other "tasks that normally attend litigation" such as "evidence gathering" and "preparing and responding to motions." Id.
When the applicable legal standard is met the judges turn to members of the CTAP to find representation pursuant to Local Rule 4-6. There is no commitment from registering.
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