Seeking to minimize the filing of frivolous lawsuits,the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit said federal prisoners who want the court to hear certain petitions must pay a $450 filing fee or face dismissal of the appeal.
A three-judge D.C. Circuit panel ruled in a suit brought by a prisoner named Rogel Grant against the attorney general, a federal prosecutor and others following his conviction in a drug case in Pennsylvania.
The appeals court appointed a lawyer to represent Grant and directed the lawyers in the case to address whether the filing-fee requirements of the Prison Litigation Reform Act apply to petitions for writs of mandamus. The appeals court said there’s a divide among circuits on the issue.
Senior Judge A. Raymond Randolph, writing for the panel, said the filing-fee requirement does, in fact, apply to petitions for writs of mandamus filed in connection with civil cases.
“Like frivolous complaints in the district court, frivolous petitions in the courts of appeal ‘tie up the courts, waste valuable judicial and legal resources, and affect the quality of justice enjoyed by the law-abiding population,’” Randolph wrote.
The appeals court declined to say whether the filing-fee requirement applies to petitions for writs of mandamus that arise from criminal or habeas proceedings.