Haskell v. Walls et al
ORDER signed by Judge J.P. Stadtmueller on 11/13/2017 DENYING 10 Plaintiff's Motion to Use Release Account Funds to Pay Filing Fee. (cc: all counsel, via mail to Wayne Haskell at Oshkosh Correctional Institution) (jm)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF WISCONSIN
Case No. 17-CV-1491-JPS
SECRETARY EDWARD WALLS,
WARDEN JUDY SMITH, DANIELLE
FOSTER, DR. STRELNICK, and
DR. PATRICK MURPHY,
Plaintiff, who is incarcerated at the Oshkosh Correctional
Institution, filed a pro se complaint under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging that his
civil rights were violated. (Docket #1). On November 1, 2017, the Court
ordered him to pay an initial partial filing fee (“IPFF”) of $5.46 pursuant to
28 U.S.C. § 1951(b)(1). (Docket #7). On November 9, 2017, Plaintiff filed a
motion requesting that the Court order the bulk of the $350.00 filing fee in
this case be paid from his prison release account. (Docket #10). 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.
For the reasons stated above, the Court is obliged to deny Plaintiff’s
request to pay most of the filing fee from his release account. The deadline
of November 22, 2017 remains for Plaintiff to pay the IPFF in this case. See
(Docket #7). If he wishes to use funds from his release account to pay the
IPFF, he may request the same by motion in lieu of sending payment.
Failure to either pay the IPFF or file a motion requesting that the IPFF be
debited from Plaintiff’s release account will result in dismissal of this
action for failure to prosecute. See Civ. L. R. 41(c).
IT IS ORDERED that Plaintiff’s motion to use his release account
to pay the filing fee in this matter (Docket #10) be and the same is hereby
Dated at Milwaukee, Wisconsin, this 13th day of November, 2017.
BY THE COURT:
U.S. District Judge
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