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Pierce v. Collins

United States District Court, D. Massachusetts

June 4, 2018

SAMUEL PIERCE, Plaintiff,
v.
NICK COLLINS, et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          F. Dennis Saylor, IV United States District Judge.

         For the reasons set forth below, the Court will deny plaintiff’s motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis and will direct that plaintiff file an amended complaint if he wishes to proceed with this matter.

         I. Factual Background

         On April 27, 2018, pro se litigant Samuel Pierce commenced this action by filing a complaint and an application to proceed without prepayment of fees and affidavit (also referred to as a motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis). The lawsuit concerns the special election to select a Massachusetts State Senator for the First Suffolk District.

         In preparing his pleading, Pierce elected to use a form complaint available from the court. The title of Section III of the form complaint is “Statement of the Claim,” which instructs the plaintiff as follows:

Write a short and plain statement of the claim. Do not make legal arguments. State as briefly as possible the facts showing that each plaintiff is entitled to the damages or relief sought. State how each defendant was involved and what each defendant did that caused the plaintiff harm or violated the plaintiff’s rights, including the dates and places of that involvement or conduct. . . . Attach additional pages if needed.

         Compl. at 4. Pierce’s statement of the claim, in its entirety, is brief:

My complaint is how the MA Sec. of State has allowed the Gubernatorial candidate who was the front runner for the Democratic Party, as well as allow the 1st Suffolk State Senate to be used as an heir apparent plan [?] to with hold vital resources from the citizens of Massachusetts by not keeping the seat open until the September 4, 2018 Primary election.

Id. In the section of the complaint entitled “Relief,” Pierce asks that “the court issue a stay on the election and allow the natural electoral process of the Commonwealth play out as the founding fathers intended, with a clean, primary election on 9/4/18.” Id.

         In the month after filing the complaint and in forma pauperis motion, Pierce filed more than 300 pages of documents, including items captioned as motions for discovery, a motion to be heard, and various exhibits. These documents appear to reflect Pierce’s concern about a wide range of issues that extend well beyond the state special election referred to in the original complaint (for example, the safety of children, community cohesion and involvement, civic education, government conduct, public transportation, and signs and flags evoking the Confederate flag). Some of them also contain “legal questions” directed to the court. See Dkt. No. 7 at 39-40; Dkt. No. 8 at 4-11.

         II. Discussion

         A. Motion for Leave to Proceed in Forma Pauperis

         A non-habeas civil action in this court requires a $350 filing fee and a $50 administrative fee (collectively, the “filing fee”). Under federal law, a person may seek leave to proceed without prepayment of filing fee by submitting an affidavit that includes “a statement of all assets such [person] possesses,” showing that “the person is unable to pay such [filing] fees or give security therefor.” 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(1). A plaintiff does not have to be “absolutely destitute” to proceed in forma pauperis. Adkins v. E.I. DuPont de Nemours & Co., 355 U.S. 331, 339 (1948). Rather, the litigant must show that he cannot pay the filing fee “and still be able to provide himself and dependents with the necessities of life.”

         Here, the Court cannot discern whether Pierce is able to pay the filing fee, because his financial affidavit is incomplete. He did not respond or gave insufficient responses to some of the questions. Among other things, in the third question of the form affidavit, the applicant is asked to indicate whether or not he has received any money in the past year from various categories of income, and, if he has, the source and amount thereof. Pierce did not provide any response to that question. He represents that he has an IRA, but did not state the value of the account. Other than representing that he has “less than $1,000” for the year in cash or in a savings or checking account, he did ...


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