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Matlock v. Kern County

United States District Court, E.D. California

December 4, 2019

RICHARD A. MATLOCK, Plaintiff,
v.
KERN COUNTY, et al., Defendants.

          ORDER DIRECTING CLERK OF COURT TO RANDOMLY ASSIGN DISTRICT JUDGE TO ACTION FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS RECOMMENDING PLAINTIFF'S APPLICATION TO PROCEED IN FORMA PAUPERIS BE DENIED (ECF NO. 10) THIRTY (30) DAY DEADLINE

         Plaintiff Richard A. Matlock is a federal prisoner proceeding pro se in this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983.

         Currently before the Court is Plaintiff's application to proceed in forma pauperis pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915, filed on December 2, 2019. (ECF No. 10.)

         I. LEGAL STANDARD

         28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(1) permits a plaintiff to bring a civil action “without prepayment of fees or security thereof” if the plaintiff submits a financial affidavit that demonstrates the plaintiff's “is unable to pay such fees or give security therefor.” A prisoner seeking to bring a civil action must, in addition to filing an affidavit, “submit a certified copy of the trust fund account statement . . . for the 6-month period immediately preceding the filing of the complaint . . . obtained from the appropriate official of each prison at which the prisoner is or was confined.” 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(2).

         II. DISCUSSION

         Plaintiff has filed an application declaring that, due to his poverty, he is unable to pre-pay the full amount of fees and costs for these proceedings or give security therefor, and that he believes that he is entitled to the relief sought in his complaint. Plaintiff's application is supported by a November 25, 2019 certification by an authorized officer at U.S. Penitentiary Yazoo City, where Plaintiff is currently housed, and a certified copy of Plaintiff's inmate trust account statement showing the activity in Plaintiff's account for the previous six months.

         Plaintiff's certified inmate account statement indicates that he currently has an available sum of $529.23 on account to his credit at U.S. Penitentiary Yazoo City. Further, the account statement indicates that, on April 30, 2019, Plaintiff's beginning balance was $377.61, and that, after numerous withdrawals and other transactions, Plaintiff had $529.23 in his account on November 11, 2019. According to the certified inmate account statement, the average amount deposited in Plaintiff's account each month was $321.91 and the 6-month average daily balance in Plaintiff's trust account was $350.57.

         Based on the foregoing, the information that Plaintiff has provided to the Court reflects that he is financially able to pre-pay the entire filing fee to commence this action. Although the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has held that “the filing fee … should not take the prisoner's last dollar, ” Olivares v. Marshall, 59 F.3d 109, 112 (9th Cir. 1995), in these circumstances, Plaintiff has enough funds to pre-pay the $400 filing fee and have money left over. Plaintiff has also recently spent funds on discretionary purchases. See id. (district court entitled to consider an inmate's choices in spending money, such as between a filing fee and comforts purchased in the prison commissary).

         Should Plaintiff have additional information to provide the Court, or should his available balance change by the time he receives this order, he may notify the Court. However, the Court has the authority to consider any reasons and circumstances for any change in Plaintiff's available assets and funds. See also Collier v. Tatum, 722 F.2d 653, 656 (11th Cir. 1983) (district court may consider an unexplained decrease in an inmate's trust account, or whether an inmate's account has been depleted intentionally to avoid court costs).

         Therefore, Plaintiffs application to proceed in forma pauperis must be denied. If Plaintiff wishes to proceed with this action, Plaintiff must pre-pay the $400.00 filing fee in full.

         III. ORDER AND RECOMMENDATIONS

         Accordingly, the Court HEREBY ORDERS the Clerk of the Court to randomly assign a Fresno District Judge to this action.

         Further, IT IS HEREBY RECOMMENDED that:

1. Plaintiffs application to proceed in forma pauperis, (ECF No. ...

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