Bruce v. Samuels

Summarized by:

  • Court: United States Supreme Court
  • Area(s) of Law: Post-Conviction Relief
  • Date Filed: June 15, 2015
  • Case #: 14-844
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: 761 F.3d 1 (D.C. Cir. 2014)
  • Full Text Opinion

Whether the Prison Litigation Reform Act, 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(2), limits the percentage of a prisoners income that can be used to pay court fees to 20% of the prisoners total monthly income, or to 20% of the prisoners income for each case requiring court fee payments?

Petitioner moved to stay a collection of a filing fee owed until he had completed paying the fee he owed in another case. The D.C. Circuit denied Petitioner’s motion, and Petitioner appealed.

The Prison Litigation Reform Act, 28 USC § 1915, provides a fee collection provision which requires a prisoner who brings a civil action or files an appeal in forma pauperis to first pay an initial partial filing fee and then monthly payments at 20% of the prisoner’s income until the fee is paid. The D.C. Circuit followed previous decisions made by the Fifth, Seventh, Eighth, and Tenth Circuits, which have all held that prisoners who file a civil action or appeal in forma pauperis must make separate payments of 20% of prisoner income for each case filed in federal court (“per-case” approach). By contrast, the Second and Fourth Circuits have held that 28 USC § 1915 allows prisoners to make a single 20% payment each moth, regardless of number of cases in federal court. The Supreme Court granted certiorari to resolve the circuit split.

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