The Tenth Circuit issued its opinion in Buchheit v. Green on Tuesday, November 27, 2012.
Mr. Buchheit sued Carol Green, the clerk of the Kansas state appellate courts, and Shawnee County Court Judge Daniel Mitchell, alleging that the Kansas state appellate courts had denied his request to proceed in forma pauperis (IFP) and had refused to docket his state appeals. A magistrate judge granted Mr. Buchheit’s motion to proceed IFP in federal court. Ms. Green objected on the grounds that the magistrate judge failed to screen the complaint under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2). The district court overruled the objection but dismissed the complaint for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, finding that Mr. Buchheit sought retrospective relief against the state that is barred by sovereign immunity. The Tenth Circuit affirmed.
Ms. Green argued in her cross-appeal that the language of the IFP statute, 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2), requires a magistrate judge to screen cases for merit before granting IFP because the statute states in part that “the court shall dismiss the case at any time if the court determines that . . . (B) the action or appeal (i) is frivolous or malicious.” While the purpose of the IFP statute is to discourage the filing of baseless lawsuits that a paying litigant generally would not file, the court held that the statute does not require IFP cases be screened for merit before the grant of IFP.