January 12, 2016 Practice Points

SCOTUS Rules on PLRA Fees

The U.S. Supreme Court issued an unanimous order in Bruce v. Samuels, a case involving prisoner litigants who qualify to file in forma pauperis.

By Sanford Hausler

The U.S. Supreme Court issued an unanimous order in Bruce v. Samuels. The case involved the interpretation of the Prison Litigation Reform Act of 1995 (PLRA), which required that prisoner litigants who qualify to file in forma pauperis must pay 20 percent of the filing fee and pay the remainder of the fee in installments. The petitioner, who had multiple ongoing litigations, took the position that the payments were not required to be made until he had completed making the installment payments for cases that he had filed previously. Justice Ginsburg, writing for the Court, held that the payments had to be made simultaneously, not sequentially.


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