United States District Court, D. Connecticut
ORDER DENYING [DKT. 45] ATTORNEY MICHAEL E.
SATTI'S MOTION FOR RELIEF FROM PRO BONO
Vanessa L. Bryant, United States District Judge
December 12, 2019, the Court granted Plaintiff's motion
for appointment of pro bono counsel in the
above-captioned matter, a state prisoner's civil rights
case. [Dkt. 40]. On December 20, 2019, the Court appointed
Attorney Michael E. Satti to represent the Plaintiff pro
bono, pursuant to D. Conn. L. R. Civ. P. 83.10. Attorney
Satti has moved for relief from the pro bono
appointment pursuant to Rule 6.2 of the Conn. Rules of
Professional Conduct. The Court DENIES Attorney Satti's
bono case assignment
Conn. L. R. Civ. P. 83.10(a)(1) provides that the Clerk will
establish a wheel to be used in assigning members of the
District's Bar to provide pro bono
representation to indigent persons in civil cases. Any member
of the Bar who has appeared as counsel of record in at least
one civil action in the Court since 2015 shall be included in
the Assignment Wheel, except for five enumerated exceptions.
D. Conn. L. R. Civ. P. 83.10(a)(2). Attorney Satti does not
argue that any of the enumerated exceptions apply to him.
attorney may seek relief from a pro bono assignment
under D. Conn. L. R. Civ. P. 83.10(g). However,
“[m]otions for relief from appointment are disfavored,
as the Court views the acceptance of pro bono
assignments from time to time as a professional
responsibility of the attorneys who are members of its
Bar.” Ibid. Motions for relief from a pro
bono appointment must comply with Rule 6.2 of the Conn.
Rules of Professional Conduct and Local Rule 7(e).
Ibid. Rule 6.2 of the Conn. Rules of Professional
Conduct states, in relevant part, that “[a] lawyer
shall not seek to avoid appointment by a tribunal to
represent a person except for good cause, such as: (2)
[r]epresenting the client is likely to result in an
unreasonable financial burden on the lawyer.” The
commentary to the rule explains that “a lawyer may also
seek to decline an appointment if acceptance would be
unreasonably burdensome, for example, when it would impose a
financial sacrifice so great as to be unjust.” Conn.
Rules of Prof'l Conduct R. 6.2, cmt.
Attorney Satti states in conclusory terms that the
appointment would be unreasonably burdensome and result in an
unreasonable financial burden to a small practice with two
attorneys. But, roughly half of all lawyers in Connecticut
practice as solo practitioners or practice in small firms.
See Lawyer-entrepreneurs face growing pains,
Hartford Business Journal, Apr. 2, 2017 (quoting statistic
that roughly half of members in the voluntary Connecticut Bar
Association are solo practitioners or practice at a small
firm). The fact that Attorney Satti is a
small-firm practitioner does not alone establish that this
pro bono assignment would “impose a financial
sacrifice so great as to be unjust, ” and thus relief
under with Rule 6.2 of the Conn. Rules of Professional
Conduct is unwarranted.
Court recognizes that civil pro bono appointments
can be potentially burdensome, but D. Conn. R. Civ. P.
83.10(g) provides that “[r]elief from appointment is
unlikely to be granted on the grounds that the appointment
would be burdensome or interfere with counsel's other
professional obligations where the Court can fashion a case
schedule that reasonably mitigates such difficulties.”
Attorney Satti's motion elicits no facts to show that the
burden of representing the indigent plaintiff in the instant
action would be unreasonable in light of the Court's
ability to mitigate potential scheduling conflicts with an
amended scheduling order, if necessary.
Attorney Satti represents that he completed a pro
bono case assigned to him on or about May 10, 2016
(Charles v. Johnson, et al., 3:13-cv-218) and
completed a second case representing a prisoner (Charles
v. Frazier, et al., 3:13-cv-1505) on or about March 27,
2018. A review of the dockets confirms that Attorney Satti
completed a pro bono assignment in 3:13-cv-218 in
May 2016. However, Charles v. Frazier, et al.,
3:13-cv-1505 does not appear to constitute a pro
bono assignment, as Attorney Satti sought to recover a
contingency fee. See 3:13-cv-1505, [Dkt. 126]. Regardless,
both cases are beyond the twelve-month window warranting
relief based on a prior or current pro bono
assignment. D. Conn. L. R. 83.10(g). Since that time,
Attorney Satti has appeared before the Court in other civil
Court DENIES Attorney Satti's motion for relief from this
pro bono assignment pursuant to D. Conn. L. R.
83.10(g) as the motion lacks a showing that the pro
bono assignment would be unreasonably burdensome within
the meaning of D. Conn. R. Civ. P. 83.10(g).
 The exceptions are: (1) an attorney
whose principal place of business is outside the District;
(2) an attorney who is employed full-time as an attorney for
an agency of the United States, a State, or a municipality;
(3) an attorney who is employed fulltime as an attorney by a
not-for-profit legal aid organization; (4) an attorney who
has notified the Clerk's Office in writing that he or she
has retired from the practice of law; and (5) an attorney who
has notified the Clerk's ...