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Judges deny prisoner’s request to appeal without paying fees

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The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals rejected a man’s argument that he and other prisoners do not need to pay appellate filing and docketing fees, and so a District Court’s certification of appeal is irrelevant.

In Kelly S. Thomas v. Dushan Zatecky, superintendent, Pendleton Correctional Facility, 13-1136, Kelly Thomas sought to appeal the denial of his petition for a writ of habeas corpus in the Southern District of Indiana. He filed the petition after the state court affirmed his murder conviction on appeal. Judge Sarah Evans Barker declined to issue a certificate of appealability and certified that the appeal had been taken in bad faith. Because of that, Thomas has to pay the $455 in appellate fees to appeal or convince the 7th Circuit that he should be allowed to proceed in forma pauperis.

Thomas believed, based on the Prison Litigation Reform Act of 1996, he doesn’t have to pay the appellate fees. But his argument rests on “the mistaken premise that the appellate fees have their genesis in the PLRA,” Chief Judge Frank Easterbrook wrote. “They do not. They are authorized by 28 U.S.C. Section 1913, which long predates the PLRA.”

The judges also pointed out the portions of Section 1915 and 1915A applicable exclusively to prisoners’ civil actions do not apply to collateral attacks on criminal judgments.

“When a district court grants permission under §1915(a)(1) to litigate in forma pauperis, that permission carries over to the appeal unless the district court itself revokes the permission after deciding the merits,” he wrote. “Section 1915(a)(3) says: ‘An appeal may not be taken in forma pauperis if the trial court certifies in writing that it is not taken in good faith.’ We do not see any reason why that provision should not apply to collateral proceedings, in common with all of the other litigation to which §1915(a)(1) refers.”

They denied his request to file his appeal without paying the fee, but he is entitled to contest the propriety of Barker’s declaration that the appeal was taken in bad faith. He has 21 days to file in the 7th Circuit a motion for permission to proceed in forma pauperis and a certificate of appealability. Failure to meet this schedule will result in a dismissal.

 

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  1. I just wanted to point out that Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner, Senator Feinstein, former Senate majority leader Bill Frist, and former attorney general John Ashcroft are responsible for this rubbish. We need to keep a eye on these corrupt, arrogant, and incompetent fools.

  2. Well I guess our politicians have decided to give these idiot federal prosecutors unlimited power. Now if I guy bounces a fifty-dollar check, the U.S. attorney can intentionally wait for twenty-five years or so and have the check swabbed for DNA and file charges. These power hungry federal prosecutors now have unlimited power to mess with people. we can thank Wisconsin's Jim Sensenbrenner and Diane Feinstein, John Achcroft and Bill Frist for this one. Way to go, idiots.

  3. I wonder if the USSR had electronic voting machines that changed the ballot after it was cast? Oh well, at least we have a free media serving as vicious watchdog and exposing all of the rot in the system! (Insert rimshot)

  4. Jose, you are assuming those in power do not wish to be totalitarian. My experience has convinced me otherwise. Constitutionalists are nearly as rare as hens teeth among the powerbrokers "managing" us for The Glorious State. Oh, and your point is dead on, el correcta mundo. Keep the Founders’ (1791 & 1851) vision alive, my friend, even if most all others, and especially the ruling junta, chase only power and money (i.e. mammon)

  5. Hypocrisy in high places, absolute immunity handed out like Halloween treats (it is the stuff of which tyranny is made) and the belief that government agents are above the constitutions and cannot be held responsible for mere citizen is killing, perhaps has killed, The Republic. And yet those same power drunk statists just reel on down the hallway toward bureaucratic fascism.

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