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Smith v. Geatz

IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF ILLINOIS


August 11, 2010

KENNETH SMITH, #B-32032, PLAINTIFF,
v.
DONALD GEATZ, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Reagan, District Judge

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

The Court denied Plaintiff Kenneth Smith's motion to proceed in forma pauperis and dismissed this action without prejudice, finding that Smith had accumulated at least three strikes and is not in imminent danger of serious physical injury. Now before the Court are two new motions for reconsideration of that ruling (Docs. 10, 11).

In a prior motion for reconsideration (Doc. 8), Smith admitted that he filed two prior cases that may count as strikes. See Smith v. Lee, Case No. 02-cv-3944 (N.D. Ill., filed June 21, 2002); Smith v. Aramark Food Mgmt., Case No. 04-cv-515 (N.D. Ill., filed Feb. 5, 2004). However, he maintains that the third case cited by the Court, Smith v. Cole Taylor Bank, Case No, 99-cv-7456 (N.D. Ill., filed Nov. 19, 1999), was wrongly counted against him. Specifically, he states that he "never filed a case against Cole Taylor Bank in past." In addressing that prior motion (see Doc. 9), the Court explained to Smith that the docket of that action in the Northern District of Illinois clearly reflects that the action was filed by Kenneth Smith, I.D.O.C. register number B-32032, with a last-reported address at Menard Correctional Center. That is the same register number and address provided by Smith in this action, establishing that he is the same individual.

In his two instant motions, Smith adamantly argues that he is not the same Kenneth Smith who filed the case against Cole Taylor Bank, offering documentation suggesting that he was not incarcerated at the time that action was filed. The Clerk contacted the federal archives for the Northern District of Illinois and obtained copies of pleadings from that case, hoping that information or handwriting in those pleadings would definitively resolve this question. Unfortunately, it is not that simple.

The handwriting of the complaint in the Northern District*fn1 is not consistent with the handwriting of the pleadings filed in this District. In fact, even within the pleadings in each case, the handwriting is not consistent.*fn2 However, Smith's signature in pleadings in both cases is similar, although not identical. The Court could go to the expense of retaining a handwriting expert and conducting further hearings on the matter, but that seems a bit excessive for this particular issue. Thus, the Court will give Smith the benefit of the doubt; his motions for reconsideration are GRANTED.

IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that the order denying the in forma pauperis motion and closing this case (Doc. 7) is VACATED and held for naught.

The Clerk is DIRECTED to REOPEN THIS CASE and REINSTATE Smith's motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis (Doc. 2).

IT IS SO ORDERED.

MICHAEL J. REAGAN United States District Judge


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