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Greyer v. Illinois Department of Corrections

United States Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit

August 13, 2019

Fabian Greyer, Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
Illinois Department of Corrections, et al. Defendants-Appellees. Michael Johnson, Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
Jason Dalke, et al. Defendants-Appellees.

          Argued April 3, 2019

          Appeals from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Western Division. Nos. 17 C 7840, 17 C 50384 - Philip G. Reinhard, Judge.

          Before Wood, Chief Judge, and Bauer and Rovner, Circuit Judges.

          WOOD, CHIEF JUDGE.

         One of Congress's expressed goals when it passed the Prison Litigation Reform Act ("PLRA") was to rein in the flood of prisoner litigation-all too often frivolous or vexatious, it thought-clogging the courts. See Margo Schlanger, Inmate Litigation, 116 Harv. L. Rev. 1555, 1633-34 & nn. 269-70 (2003) (citing Porter v. Nussle, 534 U.S. 516, 525 (2002); and 141 CONG. Rec. 514, 627 (daily ed. Sept. 29, 1995) (statement of Sen. Hatch)). Of the many tools the law introduced to serve that purpose, one of the most potent is the so-called "three strikes" provision. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(g). The statute specifies that a prisoner may not proceed in forma pauperis if she "has, on [three] or more prior occasions, while incarcerated or detained in any facility, brought an action or appeal in a court of the United States that was dismissed on the grounds that it is frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted ...." Id.

         So far, so good. But no legislation spells out everything, and the PLRA is no exception. Our concern here is with the way in which courts administer the three-strikes rule. Many have created elaborate forms requiring prisoner-litigants to list their entire litigation histories. The Northern District of Illinois's form, which is the one at issue here, requires the prisoner to furnish all of the following information:

• name of case and docket number;
• date of filing;
• all plaintiffs for each case, including co-plaintiffs and their aliases;
• all defendants for each case;
• the court in which each lawsuit was filed;
• the name of the assigned judge;
• a description of the claim(s) made;
• the disposition of the case; and
• the date of disposition.

         Northern District of Illinois, Complaint Under the Civil Rights Act, Title 42, Section 1983 U.S. Code, or Complaint Under the Constitution ("Bivens" Action), Title 28 Section 1331 U.S. Code (federal defendants), hrtps://www.ilnd.uscourts. gov/_assets/_documents/_forms/_online/1983EDForm092007 .pdf. By collecting this information, a district court reviewing an indigent ...


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