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Shahin v. City of Dover

Superior Court of Delaware, Kent

December 17, 2018

MAZEN AND NINA SHAHIN, Plaintiffs,
v.
CITY OF DOVER and CHERYL A. BUNDEK, City of Dover Tax Assessor, Defendants.

          Submitted: December 7, 2018

         Upon Plaintiffs' Application for Appointment of Attorney Under Provisions of 6 Del C. § 4613(b). Denied.

          Dr. Mazen Shahin and Nina Shahin, pro se, of Dover, Delaware.

          William W. Pepper, Sr., Esquire of Schmittinger & Rodriguez, P.A., Dover, Delaware; attorney for Defendants.

          ORDER

          William L. Witham. Jr. Resident Judge

         INTRODUCTION

         1. This Court has Plaintiffs Mazen and Nina Shahin's ("Plaintiffs") application for Appointment of Attorney pursuant to 6 Del. C. § 4613(b) and the City of Dover and Cheryl A. Bundek's ("Defendants") response. The Court of Chancery previously considered the Plaintiffs' application, denied it, and thereafter transferred the matter to the Superior Court on October 16, 2018.

         2. After considering the record in its entirety, [1] including the Court of Chancery's previous ruling in regard to this matter, [2] this Court DENIES the Plaintiffs' application for appointment of attorney pursuant to section 4613(b).

         FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         3. The Plaintiffs filed their current complaint in the Court of Chancery pro se[3]on May 17, 2018, alleging the Defendants' "systematic national origin discrimination" against them in regard to the tax assessments on their residence in Dover, Delaware.[4]

         4. Simultaneous to filing their complaint, the Plaintiffs also filed a petition asking the Chancery Court to "appoint an attorney to file a formal [c]omplaint on their behalf pursuant sections 6 Del C. § 4613(a) and (b) of the Delaware Fair Housing Act.

         5. On September 26, 2018, the Court of Chancery denied the petition and subsequently granted the Plaintiffs' motion for transfer to this Court on October 16, 2018.

         PARTIES CONTENTIONS

         6. The Plaintiffs' assert their unwillingness to continue/?ro se due to "negative experience[s]" in Delaware courts as pro se litigants.[5] And, despite their apparent willingness to pay for legal services, the Plaintiffs claim that all efforts over the period of time covering 2017 - 2018 to retain legal counsel, are exhausted.[6]

         7. The Defendants counter that the Plaintiffs have no absolute right to the appointment of legal counsel by the Court in civil cases, especially in light of the fact that the Plaintiffs are not indigent.[7] In support, the Defendants cite, Hicks v. Makaha Valley Plantation Homeowners Ass '«, [8] a Federal District case out of Hawaii, as persuasive guidance for the Court to consider in the present matter.

         LEGAL ...


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