Mallard v. United States Dist. Court for Southern Dist. of Iowa

RESPONDENT: United States Dist. Court for Southern Dist. of Iowa
LOCATION: Sable Communications of California

DOCKET NO.: 87-1490
DECIDED BY: Rehnquist Court (1988-1990)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit

CITATION: 490 US 296 (1989)
ARGUED: Feb 28, 1989
DECIDED: May 01, 1989

Gordon E. Allen - on behalf of Respondents
John E. Mallard - on behalf of Petitioner

Facts of the case


Media for Mallard v. United States Dist. Court for Southern Dist. of Iowa

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - February 28, 1989 in Mallard v. United States Dist. Court for Southern Dist. of Iowa

William H. Rehnquist:

We'll hear argument next in No. 87-1490, John Mallard versus the United States District Court.

Mr. Mallard.

John E. Mallard:

Mr. Chief Justice, and may it please the Court:

The question presented in this case is whether a federal court is empowered by 28 U.S.C. Section 1915(d) to require an unwilling attorney to undertake a representation.

The Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit has effectively held that such a power exists.

This interpretation conflicts and splits with the decisions of the Fifth, Sixth, Seventh, and Ninth Circuits.

In Nelson v. Redfield, the Eighth Circuit directed the United States District Court for the Southern District of Iowa, the Respondent herein, to prepare a list of attorneys practicing in the district who would be available for pro bono appointments under Section 1915(d).

The Petitioner herein, John Mallard, was selected from this list for an appointment.

Since I am--

Sandra Day O'Connor:

Is that right?

That's you.

John E. Mallard:


Sandra Day O'Connor:


John E. Mallard:

--your Honor.

Since I am the Petitioner herein, for ease of communication, I will hereafter use the first person in my presentation of this case.

I was admitted to the California Bar in 1981 and the Iowa Bar in 1984.

Since June of 1984 I have been employed by the law firm of Marcus & Mallard in Fairfield, Iowa where I have practiced primarily in the area of corporate and securities law.

In the fall of 1986 our firm, which consisted of three lawyers at the time, decided to take on a fourth lawyer who had substantial experience in litigation and could develop a litigation practice within the firm.

Because this lawyer was not yet in a position to seek admission to the Southern District, I obtained admission so that our firm could appear as counsel in two cases in the Southern District.

I had no intention to undertake the responsibility of litigating those cases.

Because I appeared before the Southern District, my name was added to a list of attorneys available for pro bono service.

In June 1987 I was informed by the Volunteer Lawyer's Project that I had been appointed to represent the plaintiffs in the case of Traman v. Parkin.

This case involved complaints by three prison inmates against eight prison guards and administrators alleging physical mistreatment, that the role of the inmates as informants had been exposed to other inmates and that the plaintiffs in that case, their lives had been endangered.

The plaintiffs in that case were seeking both damages and injunctive relief.

In June 1987, several weeks after I had reviewed that file, I filed a motion to withdraw on the grounds that adequate representation of the plaintiffs in that case would require substantial discovery and extensive examination and cross examination of multiple parties and other witnesses.

In my estimation, I was not competent to provide the services that would be required for effective representation of those parties.

William H. Rehnquist:

I thought that--

--Mr. Mallard, your argument that the statute... or, rule doesn't vest the authority... I suppose however competent you were it still wouldn't vest the authority when it says appoint... to conscript you against your will.

John E. Mallard:

Yes, your Honor, that is correct.

Sandra Day O'Connor:

And, in any event, the District Court found you were competent?