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MAGEE v. HATCH

November 6, 1998

RUCHELL CINQUE MAGEE, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
ORRIN G. HATCH, et al., Defendants.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: URBINA

MEMORANDUM OPINION

 Denying Plaintiffs' Motion to Proceed on Appeal in Forma Pauperis

 This matter is before the court on the plaintiffs' motion to proceed on appeal in forma pauperis. For the reasons stated below, the plaintiffs' motion is denied.

 I. BACKGROUND

 Ruchell Cinque Magee's original complaint was dismissed by this court on May 26, 1998 "because the Speech or Debate clause of the United States Constitution bars a suit against a Member of Congress based on his or her legislative vote." Memorandum Opinion at 1 (May 26, 1998). On July 16, 1998, Mr. Magee requested leave to file a notice of appeal without prepayment of costs and to proceed in forma pauperis. Subsequently, on July 29, 1998, the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ordered that the case be held in abeyance pending resolution by the District Court of the application to proceed in forma pauperis.

 Mr. Magee's request for an appeal rests on three separate grounds. First, Mr. Magee is appealing the dismissal of his complaint on the premise that there is no constitutional protection for votes made by members of Congress. Second, Mr. Magee claims that the judges and lawyers involved in his case are "railroading the innocent." Notice of Appeal at 1 (citing People v. Cruz, 162 Ill. 2d 314, 643 N.E.2d 636, 205 Ill. Dec. 345 (Ill. 1994) (Mr. Cruz was released from prison when he was cleared of all charges and police detectives were arrested for fabricating evidence.)). Apparently, Mr. Magee is arguing that if his case was given the same coverage on 60 minutes as the Cruz case, he would similarly be released. Third, Mr. Magee claims that judges have violated the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act ("RICO").

 On September 21, 1998, this court issued an Order in accordance with 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(2) giving Mr. Magee until October 21, 1998 to provide the court with a certified copy of his trust fund account statement (or institutional equivalent) for the six-month period immediately preceding the filing of the notice of appeal. See Order filed September 21, 1998. Mr. Magee was informed that "failure to comply with this Order will result in the denial of the motion to proceed in forma pauperis." Order filed September 21, 1998. Because Mr. Magee has failed to provide the information requested by the court and required under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(2), his motion to proceed on appeal in forma pauperis will be denied. In addition, the court's review of Mr. Magee's motion provides an independent basis for denial.

 II. ANALYSIS

 A. Good Faith Standard

 This court has thoroughly reviewed the plaintiffs' complaint, keeping in mind that pleadings filed by pro se litigants are held to less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers. See Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520, 30 L. Ed. 2d 652, 92 S. Ct. 594 (1972). 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a) states that "an appeal may not be taken in forma pauperis if the trial court certifies in writing that it is not taken in good faith." An in forma pauperis proceeding is not taken in good faith if it is "frivolous or malicious." 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2); see Sills v. Bureau of Prisons, 245 U.S. App. D.C. 389, 761 F.2d 792 (D.C. Cir. 1985); Brandon v. District of Columbia Board of Parole, 236 U.S. App. D.C. 155, 734 F.2d 56, 59 (D.C. Cir. 1984). The term frivolous has not been defined by Congress, but "an appeal on a matter of law is frivolous where '[none] of the legal points [are] arguable on their merits.'" Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 325, 104 L. Ed. 2d 338, 109 S. Ct. 1827 (1989) (citing Anders v. California, 386 U.S. 738, 18 L. Ed. 2d 493, 87 S. Ct. 1396 (1967)). Additionally, section 1915(e)(2)'s term "'frivolous,' when applied to a complaint, embraces not only the inarguable legal conclusion, but also the fanciful factual allegation." 490 U.S. at 325.

 B. Determination of Frivolousness

 As explained above, a legal claim may be deemed frivolous if it is wholly unsupported by law or facts. See, e.g., Crisafi v. Holland, 211 U.S. App. D.C. 75, 655 F.2d 1305 (D.C. Cir. 1981); Deutsch v. U.S. Dep't of Justice, 881 F. Supp. 49 (D.D.C. 1995); Tweedy v. U.S., 276 F.2d 649 (9th Cir. 1960). In Tweedy, the petitioner sought an appeal based on the claim that he misunderstood the meaning of the statute that he had pled guilty to violating. The court, however, found that there was no factual basis for the petitioner's claim and that the petitioner's current understanding of the statute was erroneous. The court, therefore, found that the appeal was frivolous, and the petitioner was not allowed to proceed in forma pauperis. See Tweedy, 276 F.2d at 652.

 Similarly, in Deutsch the court found that the plaintiff's in forma pauperis action was frivolous. There, the plaintiff claimed that the defendants had violated his constitutional rights, the RICO Act, and the Sherman Act by interfering with his receipt of legal correspondence. The court found that the RICO and Sherman Act claims were

 
wholly unsupported by any argument or facts to support such claims. Rather, such statutes merely appear to have been part of a shot-gun approach employed by the Plaintiff in the instant case. Accordingly, because the assertion of RICO and the Sherman Act is entirely without merit, any and all ...

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