United States District Court, E.D. Arkansas, Jonesboro Division
RAYMOND E. ADAMS, II PLAINTIFF
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA DEFENDANT
LEON HOLMES, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
E. Adams, II, has filed a pro se complaint against
the United States of America along with a supplement to that
complaint that is almost twelve hundred pages long. In
addition, he has filed a motion for leave to proceed in
forma pauperis and a motion to appoint counsel.
Eighth Circuit has directed courts to undertake a two-step
screening process with in forma pauperis litigants.
Martin-Trigona v. Stewart, 691 F.2d 856, 857 (8th
Cir. 1982). First, district courts must determine whether a
plaintiff is financially eligible to proceed in forma
pauperis under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a). Id. Second,
district courts are to determine whether the complaint should
be dismissed under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B).
Id. Section 1915(e)(2)(B) authorizes a district
court to dismiss “at any time” an in forma
pauperis complaint that is (i) frivolous or malicious, (ii)
fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or
(iii) seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune
from such relief.
first issue is whether these provisions authorize pre-service
screening and dismissals of nonprisoner complaints. The
federal in forma pauperis statute was enacted in
1892 and subsequently codified as 28 U.S.C. § 1915.
Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 324, 109 S.Ct.
1827, 1831, 104 L.Ed.2d 338 (1989). Prior to 1996, section
1915(d) authorized a court to request an attorney to
represent a person who was unable to afford counsel and to
dismiss the case if the allegation of poverty was untrue or
the action was frivolous or malicious. 28 U.S.C. §
1915(d) (1994). Although section 1915 was extensively amended
by the Prisoner Litigation Reform Act of 1996, it remains the
statutory authority for a federal court to authorize
persons-not only prisoners-to proceed in forma
pauperis. With the enactment of the Prisoner Litigation
Reform Act, the former section 1915(d), which, again, applied
to persons, not just prisoners, became section 1915(e).
Subsection (e)(1) currently provides that the court may
request an attorney to represent “any person” who
is unable to afford counsel. Subsection (e)(2) provides
authority for the court to dismiss “the case at any
time” if “(A) the allegation of poverty is
untrue; or (B) the action on appeal (i) is frivolous or
malicious; (ii) fails to state a claim on which relief may be
granted; or (iii) seeks monetary relief from a defendant who
is immune from such relief.” Thus, the former section
1915(d) became section 1915(e) with two subsections, one that
included the prior statute's authority to request counsel
to represent an indigent and another that authorized courts
to dismiss cases. The subsection that authorized dismissal
was expanded to make clear that courts could dismiss a case
“at any time, ” and the grounds for dismissal
were expanded to include not only that the action is
frivolous or malicious but also that the complaint fails to
state a claim upon which relief may be granted and that
monetary relief is sought from a party who is immune from
such relief. The old section 1915(d) applied to “any
person”; so does the new section 1915(e). Section
1915(e)(1) explicitly applies to “any person.”
Section 1915(e)(2) authorizes dismissal of “the case at
any time” on the specified grounds. It is impossible to
extract subsection (e)(2)(B)(ii) from the remainder of
section 1915(e) and construe it as authorizing pre-service
dismissal only of prisoner cases.
every circuit court to address the issue has held that
nonprisoner complaints can be screened and dismissed pursuant
to section 1915(e)(2)(B). See Michau v. Charleston Cty.,
S.C., 434 F.3d 725, 728 (4th Cir. 2006) (holding that 28
U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B) “governs IFP filings in
addition to complaints filed by prisoners”); Lister
v. Dep't of Treasury, 408 F.3d 1309, 1312 (10th Cir.
2005) (applying section 1915(e)(2)(B) to nonprisoner after
explaining that “Section 1915(a) applies to all persons
applying for IFP status, and not just to prisoners”);
Lopez v. Smith, 203 F.3d 1122, 1126 n.7 (9th Cir.
2000) (“While section 1915(e) applies to all in
forma pauperis complaints, section 1915A applies only to
actions in which a prisoner seeks redress from a governmental
entity or employee”); Rowe v. Shake, 196 F.3d
778, 783 (7th Cir. 1999) (holding that “district courts
have the power to screen complaints filed by all litigants,
prisoners and non-prisoners alike”); McGore v.
Wrigglesworth, 114 F.3d 601, 608 (6th Cir. 1997)
overruled on other grounds by LaFountain v. Harry,
716 F.3d 944, 951 (6th Cir. 2013) (noting that in contrast to
28 U.S.C. § 1915A, “§ 1915(e)(2) is
restricted neither to actions brought by prisoners, nor to
cases involving government defendants”); see also
Merryfield v. Jordan, 584 F.3d 923, 926 n.3 (10th Cir.
2009); Newsome v. EEOC, 301 F.3d 227, 231-33 (5th
Cir. 2002); Cieszkowska v. Gray Line N.Y., 295 F.3d
204, 205-06 (2d Cir. 2002). The Eighth Circuit has on several
occasions affirmed decisions dismissing nonprisoner cases
under section 1915. See, e.g., Stebbins v. Stebbins,
575 Fed.Appx. 705 (8th Cir. 2014) (unpublished per curiam);
Fogle v. Blake, 227 Fed.Appx. 542 (8th Cir. 2007);
Benter v. Iowa, 221 Fed.Appx. 471 (8th Cir. 2007);
Carter v. Bickhaus, 142 Fed.Appx. 937 (8th Cir.
2005) (unpublished per curiam).
on the financial information provided by Adams, the Court
concludes that he is entitled to proceed in forma
pauperis. According, his motion to proceed in forma
pauperis is GRANTED. Document #1.
the second complaint that Adams has filed in this Court this
year. The first case, which is referenced in the present
complaint, was Adams v. USA, Case No.
Honorable D. Price Marshall dismissed that complaint as
frivolous. Adams has filed a notice of appeal from that
complaint in this case, Adams complains, in part, about the
decision of Judge Marshall in his prior case. To the extent
that he argues that Judge Marshall erroneously dismissed his
case as frivolous, those issues are for the Eighth Circuit,
not this Court, to decide.
Court must decide if the complaint is frivolous, malicious,
fails to state a claim for relief, or seeks monetary relief
from a party immune from suit. 28 U.S.C. §
1915(e)(2)(B). Any of these grounds will provide a sufficient
basis for a court to dismiss the complaint before service of
process and without leave to amend. Christiansen v.
Clarke, 147 F.3d 655, 658 (8th Cir. 1998);
Higgins v. Carpenter, 258 F.3d 797, 800 (8th Cir.
2001). A claim is frivolous if it “describes] fantastic
or delusional scenarios, ” “its factual
contentions are clearly baseless, ” or “lacks an
even arguable basis in law.” Neitzke v.
Williams, 490 U.S. at 327-29, 109 S.Ct. at 1833. The
present complaint, like the first one that Adams filed, is
complaint of Raymond E. Adams, II, is dismissed with
prejudice. His motion for appointment of ...