Cases & Deals

Appellate court grants appointment of counsel in civil rights case

Clients Aruanno, Joseph

Lou Fisher of Jones Day Washington, was appointed by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit to represent Joseph Aruanno in his appeal of a district court's denial of appointed counsel and dismissal of his complaint.

Mr. Aruanno filed a civil rights complaint against Cape May County Jail under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging that he was beaten by a jail guard and intentionally placed in a small cell with dangerous inmates who assaulted and injured him. The district court denied Mr. Aruanno's request for appointment of counsel, concluding that his claims lacked sufficient merit and that he was able to represent himself adequately. The district court then granted a motion to dismiss the complaint for failure to state a valid claim for violation of constitutional rights.

On appeal, the Third Circuit ruled for Mr. Aruanno in all respects. The appellate court reversed both district court rulings, concluding that the complaint adequately alleged Eighth Amendment violations and that the claims had sufficient merit to warrant appointment of counsel in light of Mr. Aruanno's documented psychological problems.

Aruanno v. Cape May County Jail, No. 02-1395, 2007 WL 708987 (3d Cir. Mar. 8, 2007)