United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division
June 15, 2004.
GEORGETTA DUNHAM HAIRSTON, Plaintiff,
RICHARD B. CHENEY, Vice President of the United States, the CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE AGENCY, the FEDERAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION, the NATIONAL AERONAUTICS AND SPACE ADMINISTRATION, and the DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE, Defendants.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: JOHN GRADY, Senior District Judge
Before the court are plaintiff's application to proceed in
forma pauperis and motion for the appointment of counsel. For
the reasons set forth below, both are denied, and the complaint
is dismissed sua sponte.
Pro se plaintiff Georgetta Hairston brings this action
against Vice President Richard Cheney, the Central Intelligence
Agency, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the National
Aeronautics and Space Administration, and the Department of
Defense. The complaint alleges, in the most general terms, that
defendants have violated plaintiff's "civil rights." Along with
her complaint, plaintiff has filed an application to proceed in forma pauperis ("IFP") and a motion for appointment of counsel.
We first consider plaintiff's IFP application.
The federal IFP statute, codified at 28 U.S.C. § 1915, is
designed to provide indigent litigants meaningful access to the
courts. See Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 324,
109 S.Ct. 1827, 104 L.Ed.2d 338 (1989). Under the statute, an IFP
petitioner must submit an affidavit that demonstrates an
inability to pay the required court fees and costs. See
28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(1). According to plaintiff's affidavit, she is
not currently working. She was last employed in October 2002 in
an unspecified part-time capacity at "Westside Holistic Family
Services" in Chicago. Her salary was $800 per month. Plaintiff
currently has no income, savings, real property, automobile, or
any other valuable assets (excluding ordinary household
furnishings and clothing). On these facts, plaintiff has
demonstrated her inability to pay court costs.
Our section 1915 inquiry, however, does not end with a finding
of indigency. To prevent abuse of the broad access afforded by
the statute, we also conduct an initial review of the complaint
and will dismiss the action if we determine that it: (i) is
frivolous or malicious, (ii) fails to state a claim upon which
relief may be granted, or (iii) seeks damages from a defendant
who is immune from such relief. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2).
Where, as here, we are reviewing a complaint filed pro se, we
are mindful of our special responsibility to construe its
allegations liberally. See Donald v. Cook County Sheriff's Dept., 95 F.3d 548, 555
(7th Cir. 1996).
The complaint before us consists of thirty-four "counts" (each
a one-sentence paragraph) which, taken together, provide a
narrative of various "experiments" conducted by defendants on
plaintiff's body. For example, the complaint states that
defendants "inserted [a] camera inside plaintiff," and, in a
separate allegation, that defendants "conducted cosmic and weight
gain and loss experiments to plaintiff's person." The complaint
alleges that these and other "experiments" violated plaintiff's
"civil rights." Plaintiff seeks damages and an injunction
requiring defendants to "immediately stop all experiments."
The Supreme Court has made clear that the IFP statute "accords
judges not only the authority to dismiss a claim based on an
indisputably meritless legal theory, but also the unusual power
to pierce the veil of the complaint's factual allegations and
dismiss those claims whose factual allegations are clearly
baseless." Neitzke, 490 U.S. at 325. "Clearly baseless"
allegations include those that are "fanciful," "fantastic," or
"delusional." Denton v. Hernandez, 504 U.S. 25, 32-33,
112 S.Ct. 1728, 118 L.Ed.2d 340 (1992). The allegations in this
complaint in even under the very liberal reading we accord pro
se pleadings (and indeed, even if plaintiff herself believes
them) can only be described as delusional and fantastic.
Accordingly, the complaint must be dismissed as frivolous pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)
(2). Plaintiff's petition to proceed IFP and her motion for
appointment of counsel are therefore denied. Finally, because the
complaint is devoid of any basis in law or fact, a defect which
cannot be cured by amendment, the dismissal is with prejudice.
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