The U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Louisiana, in cooperation with Bar Associations within the Middle District including the Baton Rouge Bar Association, Federal Bar Association, Louisiana Association for Justice, Baton Rouge Association of Women Attorneys and the Louis Martinet Society, have developed a Civil Pro Bono Pilot Project. This program officially commences for one year beginning March 13, 2015 in accordance with a resolution adopted by the Court. At inception the project will be directed toward enlisting a panel of attorneys who are willing to undertake pro bono representation of pro se inmates in Civil matters. Prospective pro bono attorneys indicating a willingness and interest in accepting civil pro bono assignments will be included on a Panel List of Civil Pro Bono Attorneys.
The pilot project seeks licensed attorneys, admitted to practice in the Middle District, willing to represent pro se inmates in civil matters. Generally these matters are brought by inmates under 42 USC 1983 and who seek to challenge conditions of confinement, or the use of force by corrections officers. It is not anticipated that any pro bono assignments will be made unless and until the matter has survived all dispositive motions and is ready for trial. Once a case is ready for trial, and it is determined that the matter satisfies the parameters established by the Court which warrant assignment of pro bono counsel, the Court will send a request for pro bono representation to all Middle District Civil Pro Bono Panel members. Panel members will be provided PACER access at no cost for a period of 30 days to review the pleadings in the subject case. If, after review of the case filings, a panel member wishes to volunteer to represent the pro se inmate in the subject case, the panel member should indicate his/her willingness to accept a pro bono assignment by replying to the Court via the link provided in the request for pro bono representation notification. The Magistrate Judge assigned to the matter will then appoint counsel from among the panel members expressing a willingness and interest in accepting the pro bono engagement.
The Middle District will make its video conferencing facilities available to any attorney who accepts an assignment for the purposes of facilitating attorney-client communications and trial preparation of witnesses.
Volunteer attorneys who accept pro bono assignments are eligible for reimbursement of fees and costs, from the Middle District Bench/Bar Fund, in an amount up to $2,500. Additionally for cases brought under 42 USC 1983, section 1988 of Title 42 provides for an award of reasonable attorney's fees to the prevailing party. All forms for the Motions and Orders supporting this program, including requests for reimbursement, can be found at the links identified below.
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Forms associated with Pro Bono Program:
- Video Conference Request - Pro Bono Program
- Motion for Reimbursement of Civil Pro Bono Panel Costs (PDF)
- Order on Motion for Reimbursement of Civil Pro Bono Panel Costs (Word)