Burnside v. T. Walters, et al.

Summarized by:

  • Court: U.S. Supreme Court Certiorari Granted
  • Area(s) of Law: Criminal Procedure
  • Date Filed: May 13, 2013
  • Case #: 12-7892
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Court Below: 6th Cir. 2012
  • Full Text Opinion

Whether the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit erred in holding that indigent plaintiffs are prohibited from amending their pleadings under 28 U.S.C. §1915(e)(2).

Petitioner was speaking with his mother on the phone about his health when the battery on the Petitioner’s cell phone died. Petitioner's mother, worried about the potential stoke that her son might be having, called 911. After arriving at the scene police determined that the Petitioner did not need assistance and arrested Petitioner for the misdemeanor of calling 911 in a non-emergency situation.

Petitioner brought suit against the Respondents under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Tennessee and made a motion to proceed in forma pauperis. The Sixth Circuit dismissed the Petitioner’s complaint sua sponte, without notice and without giving the Petitioner a chance to amend or respond. Petitioner appealed to the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, which held that according to the Sixth Circuit’s precedent, proceeding in forma pauperis prohibits the plaintiff from amending a complaint.

Petitioner argues that the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit erred in its split with the other eleven Circuits and violated the Supreme Court's decision in Jones v. Bock, 549 U.S. 199, (2007). The Supreme Court granted certiorari to determine whether the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit erred in holding that indigent plaintiffs are prohibited from amending their pleadings under 28 U.S.C. §1915(e)(2).


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