Coleman-Bey v. Tollefson

Summarized by:

  • Court: U.S. Supreme Court Certiorari Granted
  • Area(s) of Law: Civil Procedure
  • Date Filed: October 2, 2014
  • Case #: 13-1333
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Court Below: 733 F.3d 175 (6th Cir. 2013)
  • Full Text Opinion

Whether a dismissal that is not final, either due pending appellate review or because the time period to appeal has not run, is counted when determining if 28 U.S.C. § 1915(g) applies to bar civil actions or appeals by prisoners who have already had three or more civil actions or appeals dismissed.

Petitioner sought to proceed in forma pauperis when filing a § 1983 complaint against employees of a correctional facility. The district court counted the dismissal order pending appellate review when applying 28 U.S.C. § 1915(g) to reject Petitioner’s request for in forma pauperis status. A divided panel of the Sixth Circuit affirmed. Petitioner sought a writ of certiorari, which was granted to resolve a circuit split.

28 U.S.C. § 1915(g) prohibits prisoners from filing civil actions or appeals if they have had three or more previous actions dismissed “on the grounds that [they are] frivolous, malicious, or [fail] to state a claim upon which relief may be granted.” The Sixth Circuit panel determined that when determining if a prisoner has had three or more civil actions or appeals dismissed for the previously stated reasons a plain reading of the statute did not exclude dismissals pending appellate review or where the time period to appeal a dismissal has not run. The panel also invoked res judicata, stating that until it may be reversed or vacated, a dismissal order pending review has the same effect as a final order.

The United States Supreme Court granted certiorari. Petitioner argued that there is a split among the circuits and the Court needs to decide on the issue.

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