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 ...
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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