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Case Name Boles v. Matthews PC-TN-0002
Docket / Court 97-5874 ( W.D. Tenn. )
State/Territory Tennessee
Case Type(s) Prison Conditions
Case Summary
On June 5, 1997, a Tennessee inmate filed a lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act against Shelby County Circuit Court in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Tennessee. The plaintiff, representing himself, asked the court for declaratory and ... read more >
On June 5, 1997, a Tennessee inmate filed a lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act against Shelby County Circuit Court in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Tennessee. The plaintiff, representing himself, asked the court for declaratory and injunctive relief, alleging that the state court clerk refused to legally change plaintiff's name in violation of his civil rights.

On June 16, 1997, the District Court (Judge Unknown) dismissed the plaintiff's claims sua sponte. The District Court dismissed under the "three strikes" provision of the Prison Litigation Reform Act of 1995, 28 U.S.C. § 1915(g). In addition, the court deemed the case frivolous, for failure to present any claim with an arguable or rational basis in law or fact, placing restrictions on the plaintiff's ability to file lawsuits in the future. Finally, the District Court also denied the plaintiff's in forma pauperis status and ordered the plaintiff to pay the entire $150 filing fee.

On March 15, 1999, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals (Judges Gilbert S. Merritt, R. Guy Cole, Jr., and Nancy G. Edmunds) reversed in part and affirmed in part. Boles v. Matthews, 173 F.3d 854 (6th Cir. 1999). The Court disagreed that the plaintiff had accumulated three strikes, finding that previous Sixth Circuit dismissals, in cases he had filed, were for failure to pay the filing fee and did not constitute strikes. However, finding that the District Court had no authority to review the state court decision and noting that the Religious Freedom Restoration Act was unconstitutional, the Sixth Circuit affirmed the District Court's dismissal of the complaint as legally frivolous. Finally, finding that "prisoners are no longer entitled to a waiver of the fees and costs of litigation," the Sixth Circuit further upheld the District Court's decision to impose fees and deny pauper status.

Because we have only the Sixth Circuit opinion, we have no more information on this file.

Josh Altman - 05/22/2006


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Affected Gender
Male
Type of Facility
Government-run
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Defendant(s) Shelby County Circuit Court
Plaintiff Description Tennessee inmate filed a complaint in which he sought declaratory and injunctive relief in connection with the alleged refusal of Tennessee state court clerk to process Boles's attempt legally to change his name.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations None on record
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Prevailing Party Defendant
Public Int. Lawyer No
Nature of Relief None
Source of Relief None
Form of Settlement None on record
Order Duration not on record
Case Closing Year 1999
Case Ongoing No
Additional Resources
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Case Studies Civil Rights Injunctions Over Time: A Case Study of Jail and Prison Court Orders
N.Y.U. Law Review
By: Margo Schlanger (Washington University)
Citation: 81 N.Y.U. L. Rev. 550 (2006)
[ Detail ] [ PDF ] [ External Link ]

  Judicial Policy Making and the Modern State: How the Courts Reformed America's Prisons
By: Malcolm M. Feeley & Edward Rubin (UC Berkeley Boalt Hall School of Law & Vanderbilt School of Law Faculty)
Citation: (1998)
[ Detail ]

Docket(s)
No docket sheet currently in the collection
General Documents
Unpublished Opinion 03/15/1999 (173 F.3d 854)
PC-TN-0002-0001.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Judges Cole, Ransey Guy Jr. (Sixth Circuit)
PC-TN-0002-0001
Edmunds, Nancy Garlock (E.D. Mich.)
PC-TN-0002-0001
Merritt, Gilbert Stroud Jr. (Sixth Circuit)
PC-TN-0002-0001
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers None on record
Defendant's Lawyers None on record
Other Lawyers None on record

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