NOTICE! * In Forma Pauperis * – Court Fee Waivers for Impoverished Persons

    “How to file in forma pauperis” is codified via U.S. Code Title 28 – Part V – Chapter 123 – §1915 Proceedings in forma pauperis.  The following one paragraph summary is a simplified version of the information contained in the code:

One Paragraph “Complete Summary” of how to file “In Forma Pauperis”:

    A Court Fee Waiver application may be filed for low income or impoverished persons in order to file a Civil Action (Complaint Form) without paying fees.  A Financial Affidavit- Form cja23 must be filed alongside the Court Fee Waiver application.  Filing in this manner is known as filing in forma pauperis.  If a person is unable to pay court costs, the court must waive the fee.  For inmates to file an appeal in forma pauperis, they ought use the form Motion and Affidavit for Permission to Appeal In Forma Pauperis in conjunction with the Financial Affidavit  Form.

Definition of IN FORMA PAUPERIS:

[Latin: ‘in the manner of the pauper’] In the manner of an indigent who is permitted to disregard filing fees & court costs <when suing, a poor person is generally entitled to proceed in forma pauperis>

Download The Court Fee Waiver form and the Financial Affidavit form here:

Download Financial Affidavit, Form CJA 23

(click here for the same form on UScourts.gov)

Application to Proceed in District Court Without Prepaying Fees or Costs (Short Form), Form ao240_0

(click here for the same form on UScourts.gov)

    For inmates seeking to appeal their case or file a civil action in forma pauperis, here are the appropriate forms:

Motion and Affidavit for Permission to Appeal In Forma Pauperis- Form ifpFill

(click here for the same form on UScourts.gov)

Related U.S. Code Statutes:

U.S. Code Title 28 – Part V – Chapter 123 – §1915 Proceedings in forma pauperis:

Note: This statute explains the same information that is explained above, except this may be more complex:

(a)

(1) Subject to subsection (b), any court of the United States may authorize the commencement, prosecution or defense of any suit, action or proceeding, civil or criminal, or appeal therein, without prepayment of fees or security therefore, by a person who submits an affidavit that includes a statement of all assets such prisoner possesses that the person is unable to pay such fees or give security therefore.   Such affidavit shall state the nature of the action, defense or appeal & affiant’s belief that the person is entitled to redress. (included in Financial Affidavit- Form J23[1]

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Definition of AFFIDAVIT:

“A voluntary declaration of facts written down & sworn to by to declarant, usually before an officer authorized to administer oaths. A great deal of evidence is submitted by affidavit, especially in pretrial matters such as summary judgment motions.”[2]

Definition of AFFIANT:

“1. Someone who makes an affidavit or declaration under oath. — Also termed deponent; declarant. 2. COMPLAINANT.”

Definition of COMPLAINANT:

(15c.) 1. The party who brings a legal Complaint against another; especially, the plaintiff in a court of equity, or, more modernly, a civil suit.”

    The following excerpt from Edwin Bryant’s The Law of Pleading Under the Codes of Civi Procedure helps provide historical & legal context to the term “Complainant”:

    “A suit in equity, under the procedure of the English Court of Chancery, which was generally adopted in the American States prior to the code, is instituted by the plaintiff filing a bill of compliant. The plaintiff is usually called the complainant, in the Federal courts the complainant or plaintiff indifferently. The bill is in substance a petition to the chancellor, or judge of the court of equity, setting forth at large the grounds of the suit, & praying the process of the court, its subpoena, to bring the defendant into court & compel him to answer the plaintiff’s bill, &, also, for such relief by decree or interlocutory remedy, by way of injunction,
etc., as the plaintiff supposes himself entitled to.”[3]

Second Definition of COMPLAINANT:

“2. Someone who, under oath, signs a statement (a ‘complaint‘  generally) establishing reasonable grounds to believe that some named person has committed a crime. – Also termed affiant.

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U.S. Code Title 28 §1915 continued:

(2) A prisoner seeking to bring a civil action or appeal a judgment in a civil action or proceeding without prepayment of fees or security therefore, in addition to filing the affidavit filed under paragraph (1) (Financial Affidavit- Form cja23), shall submit a certified copy of the trust fund account statement (or institutional equivalent)(these are included in the Financial Affidavit) for the prisoner for the 6-month period immediately preceding the filing of the complaint or notice of appeal, obtained from the appropriate official of each prison at which the prisoner is or was confined.

(3) An appeal may not be taken in forma pauperis if the trial court certifies in writing that it is not taken in good faith.

Section 4(b): Fees for Inmates Filing Appeal, but NOT In Forma Pauperis:

(b)

(1) Notwithstanding subsection (a), if a prisoner brings a civil action or files an appeal in forma pauperis, the prisoner shall be required to pay the full amount of a filing fee. The court shall assess and, when funds exist, collect, as a partial payment of any court fees required by law, an initial partial filing fee of 20 percent of the greater of—

(A) the average monthly deposits to the prisoner’s account; or

(B) the average monthly balance in the prisoner’s account for the 6-month period immediately preceding the filing of the complaint or notice of appeal.

(2) After payment of the initial partial filing fee, the prisoner shall be required to make monthly payments of 20 percent of the preceding month’s income credited to the prisoner’s account. The agency having custody of the prisoner shall forward payments from the prisoner’s account to the clerk of the court each time the amount in the account exceeds $10 until the filing fees are paid.

(3) In no event shall the filing fee collected exceed the amount of fees permitted by statute for the commencement of a civil action or an appeal of a civil action or criminal judgment.

(4) In no event shall a prisoner be prohibited from bringing a civil action or appealing a civil or criminal judgment for the reason that the prisoner has no assets and no means by which to pay the initial partial filing fee.

Motion and Affidavit for Permission to Appeal In Forma Pauperis- Form ifpFill

(click here for the same form on UScourts.gov)

Once the Request to Proceed In Forma Pauperis has been filed, this is what SHOULD happen next:

The following sections provide directions for the court not for you:

(c) Upon the filing of an affidavit in accordance with subsections (a) and (b) and the prepayment of any partial filing fee as may be required under subsection (b), the court may direct payment by the United States of the expenses of

(1) printing the record on appeal in any civil or criminal case, if such printing is required by the appellate court;

(2) preparing a transcript of proceedings before a United States magistrate judge in any civil or criminal case, if such transcript is required by the district court, in the case of proceedings conducted under section 636(b) of this title or under section 3401(b) of title 18, United States Code; and

(3) printing the record on appeal if such printing is required by the appellate court, in the case of proceedings conducted pursuant to section 636(c) of this title. Such expenses shall be paid when authorized by the Director of the Administrative Office of the United States Courts.

(d) The officers of the court shall issue and serve all process, and perform all duties in such cases. Witnesses shall attend as in other cases, and the same remedies shall be available as are provided for by law in other cases.

(e)

(1) The court may request an attorney to represent any person unable to afford counsel.

(2) Notwithstanding any filing fee, or any portion thereof, that may have been paid, the court shall dismiss the case at any time if the court determines that—

(A) the allegation of poverty is untrue; or

(B) the action or appeal—

(i) is frivolous or malicious;

(ii) fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted; or

(iii) seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such relief.

Note: This next section of U.S. Code Title 28§ 1915  explains that if you filed In Forma Pauperis, then win the case, you’ll need to pay the U.S. Back for having covered your court costs:

(f)

(1) Judgment may be rendered for costs at the conclusion of the suit or action as in other proceedings, but the United States shall not be liable for any of the costs thus incurred. If the United States has paid the cost of a stenographic transcript or printed record for the prevailing party, the same shall be taxed in favor of the United States.

(2)

(A) If the judgment against a prisoner includes the payment of costs under this subsection, the prisoner shall be required to pay the full amount of the costs ordered.

(B) The prisoner shall be required to make payments for costs under this subsection in the same manner as is provided for filing fees under subsection (a)(2).

(C) In no event shall the costs collected exceed the amount of the costs ordered by the court.

Only 3 Appeals Under this Title are permitted so file wisely:

(g) In no event shall a prisoner bring a civil action or appeal a judgment in a civil action or proceeding under this section if the prisoner has, on 3 or more prior occasions, while incarcerated or detained in any facility, brought an action or appeal in a court of the United States that was dismissed on the grounds that it is frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, unless the prisoner is under imminent danger of serious physical injury.

(h) As used in this section, the term “prisoner” means any person incarcerated or detained in any facility who is accused of, convicted of, sentenced for, or adjudicated delinquent for, violations of criminal law or the terms and conditions of parole, probation, pretrial release, or diversionary program.

References:

[1]: Government Publishing Office, United States Code, Title 28 – JUDICIARY AND JUDICIAL PROCEDURE – PART V – PROCEDURE
CHAPTER 123 – FEES AND COSTS – Sec. 1915 – Proceedings in forma pauperis: www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/USCODE-2014-title28/html/USCODE-2014-title28-partV-chap123-sec1915.htm

[2]: All definitions from Black’s Law Dictionary Deluxe Tenth Edition by Henry Campbell Black & Editor in Chief Bryan A. Garner. ISBN: 978-0-314-62130-6

[3]: Edwin E. Bryant, The Law of Pleading Under the Codes of Civil Procedure 55 (2d. ed. 1899)

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