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In re Instructions for Filing a Complaint by a Prisoner Under the Civil Rights Statute

August 13, 2008

INSTRUCTIONS FOR FILING A COMPLAINT BY A PRISONER UNDER THE CIVIL RIGHTS STATUTE, 42 U.S.C. § 1983


I. Scope of Section 1983

An action under Section 1983 is available to challenge violations of the federal constitution or federal statutes which affect the conditions of your confinement or your treatment by government employees while in custody. Although you may ask for and obtain money damages or an injunction under Section 1983, the court cannot issue an order which could affect the length of your sentence in any way. Those types of claims may only be raised through a petition for a writ of habeas corpus. If you want to file a petition for a writ of habeas corpus, you must do so on the correct forms, which are provided by the Clerk of the Court on request.

II. Packet

Three copies of a complaint form are attached to this instruction sheet. In addition, included in the packet are an information sheet for prisoners seeking leave to proceed in forma pauperis (without prepayment of filing fees) and two copies of an application to proceed in forma pauperis. To start an action, the following items must be included:

1. An original and one copy of the complaint. You must keep an additional copy of the complaint for your own records. All copies of the complaint must be identical to the original.

2. Either a completed in forma pauperis application or the $350.00 filing fee.

III. Complaint Form

Your complaint must be legibly handwritten or typewritten. You must sign each copy of the complaint and declare under penalty of perjury that the facts stated in the complaint are correct. If you need additional space to answer a question, you should attach an additional blank page. You are required to state facts in support of each claim. The complaint should refer to the provision of the federal constitution or federal law on which you are relying, but should not contain legal arguments or citations.

IV. Venue

Your complaint should be brought in the Sacramento Division of this court only if one or more of the named defendants is located in the Sacramento Division of the Eastern District of California or if your claim arose in the Sacramento Division of this district. The Sacramento Division of the Eastern District of California is comprised of the following counties: Alpine, Amador, Butte, Colusa, El Dorado, Glenn, Lassen, Modoc, Mono, Nevada, Placer, Plumas, Sacramento, San Joaquin, Shasta, Sierra, Siskiyou, Solano, Sutter, Tehama, Trinity, Yolo, and Yuba.

Your complaint should be brought in the Fresno Division of this court only if one or more of the named defendants is located in the Fresno Division of the Eastern District of California or if your claim arose in the Fresno Division of this district. The Fresno Division of the Eastern District of California is comprised of the following counties: Fresno, Calaveras, Inyo, Kern, Kings, Madera, Mariposa, Merced, Stanislaus, Tulare, and Tuolumne.

V. Mailing the Forms

When all of the forms described in part II are completed, if you are bringing your case in the Sacramento Division, mail the original and copies to:

Clerk of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California 501 I Street, Room 4-400 Sacramento, California 95814

If you are bringing your case in the Fresno Division, mail the original and copies to:

Clerk of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California 2500 Tulare Street Fresno, California 93721

VI. After the Complaint is Filed

Once the complaint is filed, the court will review it and decide whether to order service of the complaint on the defendants. You will be sent a copy of any order the court issues. Because of the large volume of cases filed by inmates pending in this court, the court WILL NOT ANSWER INQUIRIES concerning the status of your complaint.

You must keep the Clerk of the Court informed of any change of address. If you fail to do so, the Clerk cannot be responsible for your failure to receive Court orders. This could result in the dismissal of your suit.

The Clerk of the Court does not provide copies of documents to litigants, Copies of any volume may be obtained from Attorney's Diversified Services (ADS): 1424 21st Street, Sacramento, CA 95814. Their phone number is 916-441-4396. We will, however, provide copies of dockets at the rate of fifty cents ($0.50) per page. Checks in the exact amount are made payable to "Clerk, USDC." In forma pauperis status does not waive the cost of copies. Therefore you must keep copies of all documents submitted to the court for your own records.

(Name of Plaintiff) (Case Number)

(Address of Plaintiff) v. COMPLAINT

(Names of Defendants)

I. Previous Lawsuits:

A. Have you brought any other lawsuits while a prisoner: 9 Yes 9 No

B. If your answer to A is yes, how many?: Describe the lawsuit in the space below. (If there is more than one lawsuit, describe the additional lawsuits on another piece of paper using the same outline.)

1. Parties to this previous lawsuit:

Plaintiff

Defendants

FORM TO BE USED BY A PRISONER IN FILING A COMPLAINT

2. Court (if Federal Court, give name of District; if State Court, give name of County)

3. Docket Number

4. Name of judge to whom case was assigned

5. Disposition (For example: Was the case dismissed? Was it appealed? Is it still pending?)

6. Approximate date of filing lawsuit

7. Approximate date of disposition

II. Exhaustion of Administrative Remedies

A. Is there a grievance procedure available at your institution? 9 Yes 9 No

B. Have you filed a grievance concerning the facts relating to this complaint?

9 Yes 9 No

If your answer is no, explain why not

C. Is the grievance process completed? 9 Yes 9 No

III. Defendants

(In Item A below, place the full name of the defendant in the first blank, his/her official position in the second blank, and his/her place of employment in the third blank. Use item B for the names, positions and places of employment of any additional defendants.)

A. Defendant is employed as at

B. Additional defendants

IV. Statement of Claim

(State here as briefly as possible the facts of your case. Describe how each defendant is involved, including dates and places. Do not give any legal arguments or cite any cases ...


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