McDuffie v. Swiekatowski et al
ORDER signed by Judge J.P. Stadtmueller on 12/6/2017 DENYING 22 Plaintiff's Motion to Use Release Account Funds to Pay Remainder of Filing Fee. (cc: all counsel, via mail to Brandon C. McDuffie at Green Bay Correctional Institution) (jm)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF WISCONSIN
BRANDON C. MCDUFFIE,
Case No. 17-CV-984-JPS
Plaintiff, who is incarcerated at the Green Bay Correctional
Institution, filed a pro se complaint under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging that his
civil rights were violated. See (Docket #1, #19). He paid an initial partial
filing fee (“IPFF”) of $18.68 pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1951(b)(1). See (Docket
#8 at 1). On November 30, 2017, Plaintiff filed a motion requesting that the
Court order the balance of the $350.00 filing fee in this case be paid from
his prison release account. (Docket #22). The Court must deny the motion.
The Court may not order the requested disbursement from
Plaintiff’s prison release account to be paid toward the filing fee in this
matter. The most the Court can do is direct that the IPFF be paid from his
release account. See Doty v. Doyle, 182 F. Supp. 2d 750, 751 (E.D. Wis. 2002)
[(“PLRA”)]. . .authorize[s] the courts to order that. . .a prisoner’s release
account be made available [to pay an IPFF]”). The Court lacks the
authority—statutory or otherwise—to allow a prisoner to tap into his
release account to pay current (or future) litigation costs. Cf. Wilson v.
Anderson, No. 14-CV-0798, 2014 WL 3671878, at *3 (E.D. Wis. July 23, 2014)
(declining to order that a prisoner’s full filing fee be paid from his release
account, “[g]iven the [DOC’s] rationale for segregating funds into a
release account” and the absence of any statutory authority compelling
the court to do so).
Denying prisoners the use of their release accounts to fund
litigation costs is also prudent given that those accounts are “restricted
account[s] maintained by the [DOC] to be used upon the prisoner’s release
from custody.” Id. Permitting a prisoner to invade that account for
litigation costs could be a detriment to the prisoner’s likelihood of success
post-incarceration, see Wis. Adm. Code. § DOC 309.466 (stating that
disbursements from a prisoner's release account are authorized “for
purposes that will aid the inmate's reintegration into the community”),
especially if the prisoner is overly litigious. As the Seventh Circuit has
instructed, “like any other civil litigant, [a prisoner] must decide which of
[his] legal actions is important enough to fund,” Lindell v. McCallum, 352
F.3d 1107, 1111 (7th Cir. 2003); thus, if a prisoner concludes that “the
limitations on his funds prevent him from prosecuting [a] case with the
full vigor he wishes to prosecute it, he is free to choose to dismiss it
voluntarily and bring it at a later date.” Williams v. Berge, No. 02-CV-10,
2002 WL 32350026, at *8 (W.D. Wis. Apr. 30, 2002). He is not free,
however, to tap into his release account to cover those legal costs. As a
consequence, the Court is obliged to deny Plaintiff’s request to pay the
remaining balance of his filing fee from his release account.
IT IS ORDERED that Plaintiff’s motion to use his release account
to pay the remaining balance of the filing fee in this matter (Docket #22) be
and the same is hereby DENIED.
Dated at Milwaukee, Wisconsin, this 6th day of December, 2017.
BY THE COURT:
U.S. District Judge
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