McCaa v. Hamilton, No. 16-4209 (7th Cir. 2018)Annotate this Case
McCaa suffers from mental illnesses, with a history of suicide attempts. In his 42 U.S.C. 1983 suit, he alleged that prison officials and staff were deliberately indifferent to his self‐harm on four occasions. After screening McCaa’s pro se complaint, the court allowed some claims to proceed, relating to officials’ failure to prevent McCaa’s self‐harm and failure to obtain medical assistance after self‐harm. McCaa’s unsuccessful motion to recruit counsel posited that the issues were complex, that he has serious mental illnesses, a fifth‐grade reading level, little legal knowledge, and extremely limited access—as a segregation inmate—to the law library and witnesses. McCaa's second unsuccessful motion added that he has a learning disability, had been transferred to a new prison, and did not know where his witness was located. After discovery began, McCaa's third unsuccessful motion noted that another attorney had joined the defense and that he previously relied on other prisoners for assistance but was having difficulty getting help. McCaa continued through discovery pro se. He did not conduct depositions. Defendants moved for summary judgment, McCaa filed his fourth unsuccessful motion, stating that he was having difficulty contacting witnesses who were no longer incarcerated and that his case was worthy for a jury. The court granted the defendants summary judgment. The Seventh Circuit vacated. When denying McCaa’s third motion, the court did not specifically address circumstances that bore on McCaa’s ability to competently litigate his case.