Justia U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries

Bell v. Supervisor Kay

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Illinois prisoner Bell filed a civil rights suit, asserting unsafe conditions at the prison, and an application to proceed in forma pauperis. The court denied his application because Bell did not attach his inmate trust-account ledger (28 U.S.C. 1915(a)(2)) without assessing Bell’s explanation that prison staff refused to give him the ledger. The court instructed the clerk to “forward a copy of this order to the trust fund officer ... to facilitate compliance.” Three months later the court dismissed the suit. Two months later Bell wrote to the court, saying that he recently received the dismissal order and that he never had received the order denying his application and warning him to submit a completed one. The court interpreted Bell’s letter as a “motion to reconsider” and denied it because Bell still had not submitted a completed application. Now at a different prison, Bell has received the ledger. The Seventh Circuit granted him leave to appeal without prepaying fees and vacated the dismissal, noting that the court had not imposed a deadline for compliance, nor ordered prison officials to provide the ledger. “Dismissal is a harsh sanction and should not occur unless the court concludes that it is necessary because other options have failed or would fail.” View "Bell v. Supervisor Kay" on Justia Law
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