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Frank Orr v. Hernandez

February 15, 2012


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justin L. Quackenbush Senior United States District Judge


On February 13, 2012, the court received Plaintiff's request for copies of all Declarations Plaintiff submitted to this court because they allegedly contain exhibits Plaintiff intends to use. ECF No. 122. While the Plaintiff has been allowed to file this action without the payment of the Clerk's filing fee, for the reasons stated herein, the Plaintiff is not entitled to be furnished copies of filed documents without the payment of the Clerk's fees for copies. The court assumes the Plaintiff has made copies of the Declarations he has filed with the court, including any exhibits attached thereto. If the Plaintiff, for good cause, does not have such copies and he is without sufficient funds to pay for the copies he actually needs, the court, in pretrial proceedings, will consider ordering the Clerk to make copies without fees of limited and specific documents that the court finds are necessary for the Plaintiff to have to present his case.

I. Request for Copies; Prepayment Required

Federal law, specifically, 28 U.S.C. § 1914, requires the Clerk of this court to collect fees for copies of court documents. Numerous courts, including the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, have held that there is no constitutional right to free and unlimited photocopying by prisoners. Sands v. Lewis, 886 F. 2d 1166, 1169 (9th Cir. 1990) overruled on other grounds by Lewis v. Casey, 581 U.S. 343 (1996).

To assist Plaintiff in obtaining copies of pertinent documents, he is advised that the Clerk of the Court can forward copies of requested documents, however the Clerk requires pre-payment for copies before they can be sent regardless of the requestor's financial status. The charge is $.50 / page for requested copies. There appears to be nine declarations filed by Plaintiff, which total 231 pages. The total cost, if all documents were to be requested, would be $115.50. Copies are sent upon receipt of payment. The court accepts cash in the exact amount, check, money order and credit cards. Credit cards can be processed over the phone as well as over the counter. Checks and money orders should be payable to: US Clerk of the Court. In order that Mr. Orr may order and pay for only pertinent copies, the court will direct that a copy of the docket sheet in his case be mailed without charge to Mr. Orr together with a copy of this Order.

II. Subpoenas

Plaintiff has requested forms for the court to order witnesses to court. The court has the authority to issue subpoenas for trial witnesses under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 45(a)(2). However, this matter has yet to be scheduled for trial. The deadline for the filing of dispositive motions is March 15, 2012. If the matter remains unresolved after these motions are decided, the court will schedule a hearing to set a trial date and discuss trial procedures. This will include a discussion of witness lists, objections to witnesses, and the means to compel witnesses to attend trial. The court will direct the Clerk, at the appropriate time, to send Plaintiff copies of trial attendance subpoenas (Form AO 88).

Should this matter proceed to trial, Plaintiff is advised that despite his in forma pauperis status, he would still be required to pay subpoena witness tendering fees. See Tedder v. Odel, 890 F.2d 210 (9th Cir. 1989). These fees include the daily witness fee ($40) plus round-trip mileage (51 cents per mile) to the courthouse for each individual subpoenaed.

III. Conclusion

Plaintiff's request for copies (ECF No. 122) is DENIED. Any future requests for copies of documents shall be accompanied by the appropriate payment in proper form. As specified above, if the Plaintiff declares under oath that certain specified filed documents are essential to the presentation of his case and he is without any funds to pay the Clerk's fees for copies of those limited documents, the court will consider ordering the Clerk to furnish the limited and essential documents without the payment of fees.

Subpoena forms shall issue in this matter to Plaintiff only upon Order of this court. IT IS SO ORDERED. The District Court Executive is hereby directed to enter this order and furnish copies to Plaintiff and counsel for the Defendants. A copy of the court docket sheet shall also be mailed to Plaintiff.

Justin L. Quackenbush


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