Southern District bans on pro se prison filer for ‘pattern of dishonesty’

A pro se prisoner and serial litigator has been barred from making additional civil filings in the Southern District of Indiana unless he pays nearly $5,000 in filing fees.

Anthony C. Martin, an inmate at the Pendleton Correctional Facility, also was threatened with perjury prosecution if he continues his “sustained pattern of dishonesty.” The filing ban will only be lifted if Martin pays $4,950 in outstanding filing fees.

Southern District Judge James Sweeney handed down the filing ban Thursday in Anthony C. Martin v. Larry Fowler, et al., 1:18-cv-992. The case is just one of more than 50 civil actions Martin has filed in Indiana since 2000, and one of 14 filed in the Southern District in the last two years.

In the instant case, Martin filed a complaint in June 2018 alleging he was repeatedly beaten by prison staff and his legal documents were unlawfully confiscated, all in retaliation for grievances Martin filed against correctional officers. He also alleged he was subjected to racial discrimination, was denied medical attention, including mental health care, and was at one point led into devil worship by a medical care provider.

In his complaint, Martin requested to file it without paying the filing fee.

At issue in Sweeney’s filing ban is Martin’s motion for assistance with recruiting counsel, in which he swore under penalties of perjury that he had never filed another case without the assistance of counsel. Martin marked a question about cases he filed pro se as “N/A,” a response the judge said “is false and intended to deceive.”

“Moreover, Anthony C. Martin has filed at least 37 civil cases in the Northern District of Indiana. Eight of these civil cases are pending,” Sweeney wrote. “He has filed 15 civil cases in this Court where 12 remain pending. It appears that nearly all of these cases were filed without the assistance of counsel and should have been referenced in his motion for assistance recruiting counsel.”

“Mr. Martin also has a history of attempting to further his litigation through deception,” Sweeney wrote, noting the prisoner has been repeatedly sanctioned in both the Northern and Southern District Courts for false statements regarding his financial status. Cases involving Martin’s deception have generally resulted in dismissal with prejudice, as was also done in the instant case. Additionally, the Northern District court has imposed filing bans on the inmate.

Martin was warned to stop his deceptive practices in the recent Southern District case of Martin v. Zatecky, 1;18-cv-2443. In an Oct. 9, 2018, order in that case, also before Sweeney, the court wrote: “Mr. Martin was previously warned by the Northern District of Indiana that if he continues to file false statements or frivolous actions, he could be sanctioned. In particular, the Court could direct the Clerk to refuse to file any papers submitted by Mr. Martin in any civil case. … Mr. Martin is notified that if he makes another false statement in this Court this sanction will be imposed.”

“Mr. Martin has demonstrated a sustained pattern of dishonesty before the Court,” Sweeney wrote Wednesday. “He has had cases dismissed as a result of his dishonesty and filing bans have been imposed. … These sanctions have not had the intended effect.”

Thus, Sweeney ordered the Southern District Clerk’s Office to return unfiled papers in civil litigation brought by Martin until he pays $4,950 in filing fees. The filing ban does not include a notice of appeal or habeas cases.

“The Court also considered — and will again consider in the face of any future willful false statements from Mr. Martin — referring such false statement(s) for prosecution of perjury,” Sweeney said. “For now, however, the sanctions imposed will protect the Court’s resources and other parties from Mr. Martin’s abusive litigation practices and willful dishonesty.”

According to online records, Martin is currently serving sentences for Allen County convictions of sexual battery and robbery. His projected release date for the robbery charge is July 2062, while the projected release date for the sexual battery charge is March 2063.

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