42 Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes § 6602 - Prisoner Filing Fees

§ 6602. Prisoner filing fees.

(a) Prisoner filing requirements.--

(1) A prisoner seeking to bring prison conditions litigation without the prepayment of fees or security due to indigency must submit a request to the court to proceed without the prepayment of fees. The request must include a certified copy of the prisoner's prison account statement, which shall be provided by the prison, for the six-month period immediately preceding the filing of the complaint or notice of appeal. The request shall include a statement of any other assets of the prisoner.

(2) The court shall deny in forma pauperis status to any prisoner where:

(i) the request is not accompanied by a certified copy as provided in paragraph (1);

(ii) the average monthly deposits or average highest monthly balance for the six-month period preceding the filing of the action exceeds the amount of the filing fee; or

(iii) other grounds exist for the denial of in forma pauperis status pursuant to the Pennsylvania Rules of Civil Procedure.

(b) Partial filing fees.--

(1) The court may grant in forma pauperis status to excuse the prisoner from paying the full filing fee prior to the initiation of the action or appeal. Where in forma pauperis status is granted, the court shall order the prisoner to pay the full amount of the filing fee and shall assess and, when funds exist, collect a full or partial payment of the filing fee which shall be the greater of the following:

(i) The average monthly deposits to the prisoner's account.

(ii) The average highest monthly balance in the prisoner's account for the six-month period immediately preceding the filing of the complaint or notice of appeal requiring the payment of a fee.

(2) The court shall send a copy of the assessment order to the prisoner, the parties to the action and the prison having custody of the prisoner. The court may also direct upon condition of maintaining the action that the prisoner make a written request to the prison officials to deduct payments required by the court.

(3) The court may modify the assessment order for cause.

(c) Payment of filing fees.--Following payment of an initial partial filing fee, the prisoner shall make monthly payments of 20% of the preceding month's income credited to the prisoner's account. The prison having custody of the prisoner shall deduct payments from the prisoner's account when the prisoner's account balance exceeds $10 until the filing fees are paid in full. The prison shall forward to the prothonotary the deducted payments upon deduction, on a monthly basis, or upon complete payment of the full filing fee if the court so directs. The Department of Corrections and county prison systems shall develop written guidelines regarding the priority of payment, which shall be consistent with law.

(d) Implementation of filing fee assessments.--

(1) A prisoner shall not be prohibited from filing prison conditions litigation because the prisoner has no assets or other means to pay the filing fee. This paragraph shall not prevent the court from dismissing or otherwise disposing of prison conditions litigation pursuant to this chapter or any other provision of law.

(2) No sooner than 60 days after notice of the denial in forma pauperis status or the assessment of partial filing fees, the prothonotary shall enter a judgment of non pros in the action or strike the appeal if the fees remain unpaid. The action or appeal may be reinstated by the court for good cause shown.

(e) Dismissal of litigation.--Notwithstanding any filing fee which has been paid, the court shall dismiss prison conditions litigation at any time, including prior to service on the defendant, if the court determines any of the following:

(1) The allegation of indigency is untrue.

(2) The prison conditions litigation is frivolous or malicious or fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted or the defendant is entitled to assert a valid affirmative defense, including immunity, which, if asserted, would preclude the relief.

The court may reinstate the prison conditions litigation where the dismissal is based upon an untrue allegation of indigency and the prisoner establishes to the satisfaction of the court that the untrue information was not known to the prisoner.

(f) Abusive litigation.--If the prisoner has previously filed prison conditions litigation and:

(1) three or more of these prior civil actions have been dismissed pursuant to subsection (e)(2); or

(2) the prisoner has previously filed prison conditions litigation against a person named as a defendant in the instant action or a person serving in the same official capacity as a named defendant and a court made a finding that the prior action was filed in bad faith or that the prisoner knowingly presented false evidence or testimony at a hearing or trial;

the court may dismiss the action. The court shall not, however, dismiss a request for preliminary injunctive relief or a temporary restraining order which makes a credible allegation that the prisoner is in imminent danger of serious bodily injury.

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Last modified: October 8, 2016