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Green v. Semple

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

September 11, 2019





         Plaintiff Courtney Green has moved this Court to revise deductions which are currently being made from his prisoner trust fund account pursuant to the Prison Litigation Reform Act ("PLRA") under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b). Doc. 13. In light of his status as an in forma pauperis ("IFP") litigant, Plaintiff filed a mandatory authorization for PLRA deductions to cover his $505 court filing fees in his appeal from this Court's judgment to the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. See Green v. Semple, No. 19-1727, Doc. 31.[1] As described below, the Court will deny Plaintiff's motion to revise PLRA deductions.


         A. Appellate Posture

         The Court reviews Plaintiff's motion procedurally and substantively and finds it defective on both grounds. With respect to procedural posture, the case before this Court is closed and Green has filed a notice of appeal. In performing its requisite screening duty under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, the Court dismissed Plaintiff's action for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted.[2]See Green v. Semple, No. 3:19-CV-410 (CSH), 2019 WL 2016779, at *8 (D. Conn. May 7, 2019). Thereafter, the Court denied Plaintiff's motion for reconsideration of the dismissal, concluding that Plaintiff "has not and cannot state a plausible equal protection claim under the facts of his case," Green v. Semple, No. 3:19-CV-410 (CSH), 2019 WL 2358023, at *3 (D. Conn. June 4, 2019).

         Following dismissal and judgment, Plaintiff filed a notice of appeal and was consequently advised that "[u]nless otherwise directed, all further filings required to be filed at the Court of Appeals must be made with the Court of Appeals in accordance with their Rules." Doc. 11. Generally, "the filing of a notice of appeal is an event of jurisdictional significance - it confers jurisdiction on the court of appeals and divests the district court of its control over those aspects of the case involved in the appeal." United States v. Rodgers, 101 F.3d 247, 251 (2d Cir. 1996) (quoting Griggs v. Provident Consumer Disc. Co., 459 U.S. 56, 58 (1982)). A filed notice of appeal thus precludes the district court from ruling "on any motion affecting an aspect of the case that [is] before [the appellate court] . . . while that appeal [is] pending." Ching v. United States, 298 F.3d 174, 180 (2d Cir. 2002). Moreover, "[a] district court does not regain jurisdiction until the issuance of the mandate by the clerk of the court of appeals." United States v. Rodgers, 101 F.3d 247, 251 (2d Cir. 1996) (citing United States v. Rivera, 844 F.2d 916, 921 (2d Cir.1988)). Divestiture of jurisdiction "is a judicially crafted rule rooted in the interest of judicial economy, designed to avoid confusion or waste of time resulting from having the same issues before two courts at the same time." 101 F.3d at 251 (citation and internal quotation marks omitted)

         Permission to proceed IFP is arguably a matter related to Plaintiff's case on appeal. Although IFP status was initially granted in his district court case, Green sought to continue his IFP status in pursuing his appeal. He thus filed his latest IFP request and related authorization for PLRA deductions in the Second Circuit. Case No. 19-1727, Doc. 20-1. As set forth infra, it is the simultaneous deduction of filing fees in his fifth IFP case, the pending appeal, which has led to his current motion to revise.

         Via Green's signed "Authorization" on appeal, the Connecticut Department of Correction ("DOC") was authorized to make the necessary deductions under 28 U.S.C. § 1915 to recoup the total $505 appellate filing fee by "monthly installments deducted from [his] prison trust fund account." Id., Doc. 20-1, 20-2. Per the statute, such deductions necessarily included the "initial partial filing fee," followed by "monthly payments of 20 percent of the preceding month's income" (for each of 5 federal cases). 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(1)-(2).

         In addition, the "Warden's Notice of Prisoner Authorization" explicitly notified the DOC that it was authorized to collect the $505 appellate filing fee: "to calculate the amounts specified by 28 U.S.C. § 1915, to deduct those amounts from Appellant's prison trust fund account (or institutional equivalent) and to disburse those amounts as directed by the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit." Id., Doc. 20-2. The DOC was thus required to forward the deductions "to the clerk of the court each time the amount in [Green's] account exceeds $10 until [all five] filing fees are paid." Id. § 1915(b)(2).

         In his pending motion, Green now complains that the resulting simultaneous PLRA deductions for five cases has been a 100% (or 5 x 20%) deduction of certain amounts deposited in his prison trust fund account whenever the account balance exceeds $10.[3] In light of his pending appeal, Green's motion appears improvidently filed with this Court. Once Green filed his notice of appeal, this Court was divested of its control over aspects of the case involved in the appeal. Griggs, 459 U.S. at 58. Although the substance of the appeal focuses on other legal issues, the deductions related to his IFP status on appeal and the $505 filing fee may be matters connected to his appellate case. The motion will thus be denied.

         B. Substance of the Motion

         1. PLRA - Proceedings In Forma Pauperis, 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)

         The Court notes that Green was granted IFP status by Magistrate Judge Garfinkel in his district court case before this Court. No. 3:19-CV-410, Doc. 5. With that in mind, assuming arguendo that Green's pending motion may be viewed as properly before this Court, it fails on its substance. As described below, no revisions may be granted regarding PLRA deductions from Green's prison trust fund account because the amounts deducted are dictated by 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b), as interpreted by United States Supreme Court precedent.[4] When an inmate is granted leave to proceed in forma pauperis ("IFP"), he is mandated by statute to pay the entire filing fee. See 28 U.S.C. ยง 1915(b)(1) ("[I]f a prisoner brings a civil action or files an appeal in forma pauperis, the prisoner shall be required to pay the full amount of a filing ...

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