"Supreme Court refuses to ease filing fees for prisoners"USA Today
Miller & Chevalier Firm Chair Anthony Shelley's argument before the U.S. Supreme Court in Bruce v. Samuels
was quoted in USA Today
. The case sought to challenge the process by which prisoners must risk potentially all of their income if they file multiple federal lawsuits regarding their treatment or living conditions. Antoine Bruce, a prisoner serving a 15-year sentence, challenged a filing fee requirement established by Congress in 1996. Under the requirement, when filing a case, a prisoner must pay an initial partial filing fee and monthly payments of up to 20% of a prisoner's monthly income until the remainder of the filing fee is paid. Bruce argued that payments are capped at 20% of income per prisoner per month, regardless of how many lawsuits are filed. Numerous lower courts agreed with that position, but other lower courts took the opposite position that a prisoner must pay 20% of his monthly income per case per month, meaning that 100% of a prisoner's income would be taken in a given month if there were five or more cases for which payments were still owed. Shelley, serving as Bruce's pro bono
lawyer, told the justices in his November argument that Congress did not intend to suppress prisoner lawsuits and appeals through the onerous requirement that all income must be contributed in multiple case situations. The Supreme Court decided the case on January 12, 2016, deferring to the government's position, which does allow for income to be collected beyond 20% per month if there are multiple cases pending, but -- to the prisoners' benefit -- stops collection so as to always leave $10 in a prisoner's account.