Adams v. USA
ORDER granting 1 Motion to Proceed In Forma Pauperis. The complaint of Raymond E. Adams II, is dismissed with prejudice. His 3 motion for appointment of counsel is denied as moot. Signed by Judge J. Leon Holmes on 6/26/2017. (jak)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF ARKANSAS
RAYMOND E. ADAMS, II
No. 3:17CV00129 JLH
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
Raymond E. Adams, II, has filed a pro se complaint against the United States of America
along with a supplement to that complaint that is almost twelve hundred pages long. In addition, he
has filed a motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis and a motion to appoint counsel.
The Eighth Circuit has directed courts to undertake a two-step screening process with in
forma pauperis litigants. Martin-Trigona v. Stewart, 691 F.2d 856, 857 (8th Cir. 1982). First,
district courts must determine whether a plaintiff is financially eligible to proceed in forma pauperis
under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a). Id. Second, district courts are to determine whether the complaint
should be dismissed under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B). Id. Section 1915(e)(2)(B) authorizes a
district court to dismiss “at any time” an in forma pauperis complaint that is (i) frivolous or
malicious, (ii) fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or (iii) seeks monetary relief
from a defendant who is immune from such relief.
The first issue is whether these provisions authorize pre-service screening and dismissals of
nonprisoner complaints. The federal in forma pauperis statute was enacted in 1892 and subsequently
codified as 28 U.S.C. § 1915. Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 324, 109 S. Ct. 1827, 1831, 104
L. Ed. 2d 338 (1989). Prior to 1996, section 1915(d) authorized a court to request an attorney to
represent a person who was unable to afford counsel and to dismiss the case if the allegation of
poverty was untrue or the action was frivolous or malicious. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(d) (1994). Although
section 1915 was extensively amended by the Prisoner Litigation Reform Act of 1996, it remains the
statutory authority for a federal court to authorize persons—not only prisoners—to proceed in forma
pauperis. With the enactment of the Prisoner Litigation Reform Act, the former section 1915(d),
which, again, applied to persons, not just prisoners, became section 1915(e). Subsection (e)(1)
currently provides that the court may request an attorney to represent “any person” who is unable to
afford counsel. Subsection (e)(2) provides authority for the court to dismiss “the case at any time”
if “(A) the allegation of poverty is untrue; or (B) the action on appeal (i) is frivolous or malicious;
(ii) fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted; or (iii) seeks monetary relief from a
defendant who is immune from such relief.” Thus, the former section 1915(d) became section
1915(e) with two subsections, one that included the prior statute’s authority to request counsel to
represent an indigent and another that authorized courts to dismiss cases. The subsection that
authorized dismissal was expanded to make clear that courts could dismiss a case “at any time,” and
the grounds for dismissal were expanded to include not only that the action is frivolous or malicious
but also that the complaint fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted and that monetary
relief is sought from a party who is immune from such relief. The old section 1915(d) applied to
“any person”; so does the new section 1915(e). Section 1915(e)(1) explicitly applies to “any person.”
Section 1915(e)(2) authorizes dismissal of “the case at any time” on the specified grounds. It is
impossible to extract subsection (e)(2)(B)(ii) from the remainder of section 1915(e) and construe it
as authorizing pre-service dismissal only of prisoner cases.
Thus, every circuit court to address the issue has held that nonprisoner complaints can be
screened and dismissed pursuant to section 1915(e)(2)(B). See Michau v. Charleston Cty., S.C., 434
F.3d 725, 728 (4th Cir. 2006) (holding that 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B) “governs IFP filings in
addition to complaints filed by prisoners”); Lister v. Dep’t of Treasury, 408 F.3d 1309, 1312 (10th
Cir. 2005) (applying section 1915(e)(2)(B) to nonprisoner after explaining that “Section 1915(a)
applies to all persons applying for IFP status, and not just to prisoners”); Lopez v. Smith, 203 F.3d
1122, 1126 n.7 (9th Cir. 2000) (“While section 1915(e) applies to all in forma pauperis complaints,
section 1915A applies only to actions in which a prisoner seeks redress from a governmental entity
or employee”); Rowe v. Shake, 196 F.3d 778, 783 (7th Cir. 1999) (holding that “district courts have
the power to screen complaints filed by all litigants, prisoners and non-prisoners alike”); McGore
v. Wrigglesworth, 114 F.3d 601, 608 (6th Cir. 1997) overruled on other grounds by LaFountain v.
Harry, 716 F.3d 944, 951 (6th Cir. 2013) (noting that in contrast to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A,
“§ 1915(e)(2) is restricted neither to actions brought by prisoners, nor to cases involving government
defendants”); see also Merryfield v. Jordan, 584 F.3d 923, 926 n.3 (10th Cir. 2009); Newsome v.
EEOC, 301 F.3d 227, 231-33 (5th Cir. 2002); Cieszkowska v. Gray Line N.Y., 295 F.3d 204, 205-06
(2d Cir. 2002). The Eighth Circuit has on several occasions affirmed decisions dismissing
nonprisoner cases under section 1915. See, e.g., Stebbins v. Stebbins, 575 Fed. Appx. 705 (8th Cir.
2014) (unpublished per curiam); Fogle v. Blake, 227 Fed. Appx. 542 (8th Cir. 2007); Benter v. Iowa,
221 Fed. Appx. 471 (8th Cir. 2007); Carter v. Bickhaus, 142 Fed. Appx. 937 (8th Cir. 2005)
(unpublished per curiam).
Based on the financial information provided by Adams, the Court concludes that he is
entitled to proceed in forma pauperis. According, his motion to proceed in forma pauperis is
GRANTED. Document #1.
This is the second complaint that Adams has filed in this Court this year. The first case,
which is referenced in the present complaint, was Adams v. USA, Case No. 3:17CV00035-DPM.
The Honorable D. Price Marshall dismissed that complaint as frivolous. Adams has filed a notice
of appeal from that decision.
In his complaint in this case, Adams complains, in part, about the decision of Judge Marshall
in his prior case. To the extent that he argues that Judge Marshall erroneously dismissed his case
as frivolous, those issues are for the Eighth Circuit, not this Court, to decide.
The Court must decide if the complaint is frivolous, malicious, fails to state a claim for relief,
or seeks monetary relief from a party immune from suit. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B). Any of these
grounds will provide a sufficient basis for a court to dismiss the complaint before service of process
and without leave to amend. Christiansen v. Clarke, 147 F.3d 655, 658 (8th Cir. 1998); Higgins v.
Carpenter, 258 F.3d 797, 800 (8th Cir. 2001). A claim is frivolous if it “describ[es] fantastic or
delusional scenarios,” “its factual contentions are clearly baseless,” or “lacks an even arguable basis
in law.” Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. at 327-29, 109 S. Ct. at 1833. The present complaint, like
the first one that Adams filed, is frivolous.
The complaint of Raymond E. Adams, II, is dismissed with prejudice. His motion for
appointment of counsel is denied as moot. Document #3.
IT IS SO ORDERED this 26th day of June, 2017.
J. LEON HOLMES
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Disclaimer: Justia Dockets & Filings provides public litigation records from the federal appellate and district courts. These filings and docket sheets should not be considered findings of fact or liability, nor do they necessarily reflect the view of Justia.
Why Is My Information Online?