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The United States Law Week

‘Three-Strikes’ Rule for Prisoner Suits Gets SCOTUS Review

Oct. 18, 2019, 7:36 PM

The Supreme Court Oct. 18 agreed to review the scope of a federal law limiting the number of “free” suits prisoners can file after their previous ones have been determined frivolous.

The circuit courts have split 6-2 on whether a dismissal without prejudice counts as a “strike” prohibiting prisoners from filing an “in forma pauperis” suit—that is, without having to pay filing fees.

Federal law generally prohibits prisoners from bring such suits whenever three or more previous suits have been “dismissed on the grounds that it is frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted.”

Colorado prisoner Arthur Lomax says he should be allowed to bring his latest IFP suit to challenge his expulsion from a sex offender treatment program.

A lower court found Lomax had to pay the relevant filing fees because three of his previous suits had been dismissed for failing to state a claim for which relief could be granted.

The case is Lomax v. Ortiz-Marquez, U.S., No. 18-8369, review granted 10/18/19.

To contact the reporter on this story: Kimberly Strawbridge Robinson in Washington at krobinson@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Jessie Kokrda Kamens at jkamens@bloomberglaw.com; John Crawley at jcrawley@bloomberglaw.com