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Partial Payment of Filing Fees in Prisoner In Forma Pauperis Cases in Federal Courts - A Preliminary Report

NCJ Number
T E Willging
Date Published
50 pages
This report examines the procedure for partial payment of court filing fees by Federal prisoners in the Northern District of Ohio, Western Division.
The goals of this innovation are to reduce the time spent reviewing in forma pauperis applications and to reduce the caseload by elimination of frivolous cases. In the Northern District of Ohio the clerk lodges the complaint, the application for leave to proceed in forma pauperis, and an affidavit in support; requests a statement of the prisoner's account from the institution; computes the partial filing fee based on 10 percent of the total deposits to the prisoner's account during the past 6 months; and issues an order requiring partial payment. Administration of the procedure has had little or no adverse impact on the clerk's office; the magistrate's time required for review appears to have been reduced. Delays in filing averaged 23 days for cases in which no objection was filed and 53 days when objections were filed. However, case filings do not appear to have declined, and the procedure does not seem to discriminate between frivolous and nonfrivolous cases. A court considering adoption of a variation of this procedure would find it helpful to review alternative forms of rules from other districts. The appendixes include an outline for the administration of prisoner in forma pauperis petitions in the Houston and Galveston Divisions of the Southern District of Texas.