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Turner v. State

May 30, 2007


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Chief Judge Curtis L. Collier


Plaintiff Lewis Andrew Turner ("Turner") has filed a pro se prisoners civil rights complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 based on defendants alleged violation of his procedural due process rights under the Fourteenth Amendment. Turner alleges funds in the amount of $11,950.00 in United States Currency was unlawfully confiscated from him when he was arrested and the Department of Safety refuses to return those funds because he filed an untimely petition for reconsideration of the final order with the Commissioner of Safety. For the reasons set forth herein, no service shall issue, and this complaint will be dismissed.

I. Application to Proceed In Forma Pauperis

It appears from the application to proceed in forma pauperis submitted by Turner that he lacks sufficient financial resources at the present time to pay the required filing fee in the amount of $350.00. However, Turner is not relieved of the ultimate responsibility of paying the $350.00 filing fee. Since Turner is a prisoner at CCA Silverdale in Chattanooga, Tennessee, he will be ASSESSED the civil filing fee of $350.00 under the Prisoner Litigation Reform Act, Pub. L. 104-134, 110 Stat. 1321 (1996), codified in 28 U.S.C. § 1915.

Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(1)(A) and (B), the custodian of Turner's inmate trust account at the institution where he now resides shall submit to the Clerk, United States District Court, Post Office Box 591, Chattanooga, Tennessee 37401-0591, as an initial partial payment, whichever is the greater of (a) twenty percent (20%) of the average monthly deposits to Turner's inmate trust account; or (b) twenty percent (20%) of the average monthly balance in Turner's inmate trust account for the six-month period preceding the filing of the complaint.

Thereafter, the custodian shall submit twenty percent (20%) of Turner's preceding monthly income (or income credited to his trust account for the preceding month), but only when such monthly income exceeds $10.00, until the full filing fee of $350.00 as authorized under 28 U.S.C. § 1914(a) has been paid to the Clerk. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(2).

The Clerk of Court will be DIRECTED to send a copy of this memorandum and order to the Warden of CCA Silverdale, the Trust Fund Officer at CCA Silverdale, the Commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Correction, and the Attorney General for the State of Tennessee to ensure the custodian of Turner's inmate trust account complies with the portion of the Prison Litigation Reform Act relating to payment of the filing fee.

The agency having custody of plaintiff shall collect the filing fee as funds become available. This order shall become a part of the inmate's file and follow the inmate if he is transferred to another institution. The agency having custody of the plaintiff shall continue to collect monthly payments from plaintiff's prisoner account until the entire filing fee of $350.00 is paid.*fn1

The plaintiff will also be ORDERED to provide the prison officials at any new institution with a copy of this order. Failure of the plaintiff to notify the new prison officials of this order and outstanding debt, will result in the imposition of appropriate sanctions against plaintiff without any additional notice or hearing by the Court.

II. Standard of Review

Pro se pleadings filed in civil rights cases are liberally construed and held to a less stringent standard than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers. McNeil v. United States, 508 U.S. 106, 113 (1993); Boag v. MacDougall, 454 U.S. 364, 365 (1982); Pilgrim v. Littlefield, 92 F.3d 413, 416 (6th Cir. 1996); Jourdan v. Jabe, 951 F.2d 108, 110 (6th Cir. 1991). However, pro se status does not exempt the plaintiff from the requirement he comply with relevant rules of procedural and substantive law. Hulsey v. State of Texas, 929 F.2d 168, 171 (5th Cir. 1991); Birl v. Estelle, 660 F.2d 592, 593 (5th Cir. 1981). Pro se plaintiffs must comply with Rule 8 of the FEDERAL RULES OF CIVIL PROCEDURE which provides a complaint must contain "a short and plain statement of the claim showing the pleader is entitled to relief. . . ." LRL Properties v. Portage Metro Housing Authority, 55 F.3d 1097, 1104 (6th Cir. 1995). Although the standard of review is liberal, it does require more than the bare assertion of legal conclusions. Lillard v. Shelby County Bd. Of Educ., 76 F.3d 716, 726 (6th Cir. 1996) (standard of review for dismissing a complaint pursuant to FED. R.CIV. P. 12(b)(6)-failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted); LRL Properties, 55 F.3d at 1103-04; Allard v. Weitzman (In re DeLorean Motor Co.), 991 F.2d 1236, 1240 (6th Cir. 1993); Hartfield v. East Grand Rapids Public Schools, 960 F. Supp. 1259, 1268 (W.D. Mich. 1997).

The Court screens the complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A and § 1915(e). Furthermore, 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915A and 1915(e)(2) provides the Court must dismiss a case at any time if the Court determines it is frivolous or fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.

A. Screening Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915A and 1915(e)

When screening a prisoner complaint, a district court must examine both § 1915(e)(2) and § 1915A. If the civil action seeks redress from a governmental entity, officer, or employee, the district court must dismiss the complaint, or any portion of the complaint, which (a) is frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or (b) seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from monetary relief. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. Should the complaint contain any allegations that do not fall within § 1915A, the district court must then examine the complaint under § 1915(e)(2). The requirements of §1915(e)(2) overlap the criteria of § 1915A. Section 1915A is restricted to prisoners who sue government entities, officers, or employees. In contrast, § 1915(e)(2) is restricted neither to actions brought by prisoners, nor to cases involving government defendants. Further, § 1915A is applicable at the initial stage of the litigation, while § 1915(e)(2) is applicable throughout the entire litigation process. A case that may not initially appear to meet §1915(e)(2) may be dismissed at a future date should it become apparent that the case satisfies this section. Thus, in prisoner cases, the district court must first examine a complaint under § 1915A and then review the complaint under § 1915(e)(2) before the case can proceed in due course. A district court is required to screen all civil cases brought by prisoners, regardless of whether the inmate paid the full filing fee, is a pauper, is pro se, or is represented by counsel as the statute does not differentiate between various civil actions brought by prisoners. The dismissal of a complaint under §1915(e)(2) or § 1915A does not negate a prisoner's obligation to pay the filing fee in accordance with ...

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