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Inmate's complaint dismissed again

June 4, 2009

An inmate's complaint, which led the Indiana Supreme Court to find the Three Strikes Law to be unconstitutional last year, was properly dismissed under the Frivolous Law Claim by the trial court on remand, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled today.

In Eric D. Smith v. J. David Donahue, et al., No. 46A03-0712-CV-571, Eric Smith had filed a pro se complaint in 2007 alleging the defendants acted maliciously and with deliberate indifference when they handled his personal property. He alleged their acts denied him constitutional rights under the Fourth and 14th amendments, and they committed theft, criminal mischief, and conversion.

The trial court originally dismissed his complaint under the Three Strikes Law, but the Supreme Court held that law was unconstitutional because it violated the Open Courts Clause of the Indiana Constitution. The Court of Appeals remanded Smith's appeal to the trial court to be considered under the Frivolous Claim Law. The trial court deemed it frivolous in September 2008.

Analyzing Indiana Code Sections 34-58-1-1 and -2, the appellate court found Smith's claims to be frivolous, lack an arguable basis in fact and law, and aren't claims upon which relief may be granted, wrote Senior Judge George Hoffman. His complaint didn't allege facts concerning how the defendants acted maliciously and with deliberate intent when they handled his personal property. It didn't allege any facts how the defendants committed any criminal acts. Smith didn't plead the operative facts involved in the litigation, the judge wrote.

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