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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. Indiana's seatbelt law is not punishable as a crime. It is an infraction. Apparently some of our Circuit judges have deemed settled law inapplicable if it fails to fit their litmus test of political correctness. Extrapolating to redefine terms of behavior in a violation of immigration law to the entire body of criminal law leaves a smorgasbord of opportunity for judicial mischief.

  2. I wonder if $10 diversions for failure to wear seat belts are considered moral turpitude in federal immigration law like they are under Indiana law? Anyone know?

  3. What a fine article, thank you! I can testify firsthand and by detailed legal reports (at end of this note) as to the dire consequences of rejecting this truth from the fine article above: "The inclusion and expansion of this right [to jury] in Indiana’s Constitution is a clear reflection of our state’s intention to emphasize the importance of every Hoosier’s right to make their case in front of a jury of their peers." Over $20? Every Hoosier? Well then how about when your very vocation is on the line? How about instead of a jury of peers, one faces a bevy of political appointees, mini-czars, who care less about due process of the law than the real czars did? Instead of trial by jury, trial by ideological ordeal run by Orwellian agents? Well that is built into more than a few administrative law committees of the Ind S.Ct., and it is now being weaponized, as is revealed in articles posted at this ezine, to root out post moderns heresies like refusal to stand and pledge allegiance to all things politically correct. My career was burned at the stake for not so saluting, but I think I was just one of the early logs. Due, at least in part, to the removal of the jury from bar admission and bar discipline cases, many more fires will soon be lit. Perhaps one awaits you, dear heretic? Oh, at that Ind. article 12 plank about a remedy at law for every damage done ... ah, well, the founders evidently meant only for those damages done not by the government itself, rabid statists that they were. (Yes, that was sarcasm.) My written reports available here: Denied petition for cert (this time around): http://tinyurl.com/zdmawmw Denied petition for cert (from the 2009 denial and five year banishment): http://tinyurl.com/zcypybh Related, not written by me: Amicus brief: http://tinyurl.com/hvh7qgp

  4. Justice has finally been served. So glad that Dr. Ley can finally sleep peacefully at night knowing the truth has finally come to the surface.

  5. While this right is guaranteed by our Constitution, it has in recent years been hampered by insurance companies, i.e.; the practice of the plaintiff's own insurance company intervening in an action and filing a lien against any proceeds paid to their insured. In essence, causing an additional financial hurdle for a plaintiff to overcome at trial in terms of overall award. In a very real sense an injured party in exercise of their right to trial by jury may be the only party in a cause that would end up with zero compensation.

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