127 F.3d 1246 (10th Cir. 1997), 97-6025, Shabazz v. Parsons

Docket Nº:97-6025.
Citation:127 F.3d 1246
Party Name:Isa Abdullah Ramadan SHABAZZ, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. Michael D. PARSONS; R. Michael Cody; Phil Gilstrap; Vincent Knight, Defendants-Appellees.
Case Date:October 21, 1997
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit
 
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Page 1246

127 F.3d 1246 (10th Cir. 1997)

Isa Abdullah Ramadan SHABAZZ, Plaintiff-Appellant,

v.

Michael D. PARSONS; R. Michael Cody; Phil Gilstrap;

Vincent Knight, Defendants-Appellees.

No. 97-6025.

United States Court of Appeals, Tenth Circuit

October 21, 1997

Page 1247

Isa Shabazz, pro se.

Before SEYMOUR, Chief Judge, PORFILIO and MURPHY, Circuit Judges.

SEYMOUR, Chief Judge.

Isa Shabazz, a pro se prisoner, brought this action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 alleging that defendant prison officials violated his rights under the First Amendment and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act by denying him access to certain issues of the magazine MUHAMMAD SPEAKS. The district court adopted the report and recommendation of the magistrate judge and granted summary judgment for defendants, holding that defendants did not violate Mr. Shabazz' First Amendment right to the free exercise of his religion by denying him access to issues of the magazine which the prison determined would create a danger of violence by advocating racial, religious, or national hatred. Mr. Shabazz appealed. We affirmed in part but remanded for further proceedings to determine whether defendants had denied Mr. Shabazz access to more material than was necessary. See Shabazz v. Parsons, 73 F.3d 374 (10th Cir. Jan.8, 1996).

On remand, the district court adopted the supplemental report and recommendation of the magistrate judge and ruled that defendants had shown a rational basis for withholding entire issues rather than redacting only the offending portions. Mr. Shabazz filed his notice of appeal on December 27, 1996. 1 On January 31, 1997, the district court granted Mr. Shabazz permission to proceed in forma pauperis, but directed him to make partial payments of the filing fee on appeal pursuant to the Prison Litigation Reform Act of 1995 (PLRA), 28 U.S.C.A. § 1915 (West Supp.1997). Mr. Shabazz contends on appeal that the prison's indigency policy deprives him of his right of access to the courts, that the fee provisions of the PLRA are unconstitutional, and that the withholding of entire issues of MUHAMMAD SPEAKS violated his constitutional rights. 2 We affirm.

I.

We begin by addressing Mr. Shabazz' challenges to the fee provisions of the PLRA. Mr. Shabazz first appears to argue that the Act should not apply to him because his action was filed in district court before April 26, 1996, the Act's effective date. In White v. Gregory, 87 F.3d 429, 430 (10th Cir.1996), we held that the Act's fee provisions do not apply when the notice of appeal was filed prior to the Act's effective date. We had no occasion there to decide whether the Act would apply when, as here, "the prisoner commenced his action in district court before April 26, 1996, but filed notice of appeal after April 26, 1996." Id. at 430 n. 1. Subsequently, however, we held that a prisoner proceeding in forma pauperis on appeal who files his notice of appeal after the PLRA enactment date "is required to comply with the filing fee requirements of § 1915(b), as amended by the PLRA." Schlicher v. Thomas, 111 F.3d 777, 778-79 n. 1 (10th Cir.1997). In applying that holding here, we point out that the plain

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language of the Act requires us to apply its fee provisions when a prisoner "files an appeal in forma pauperis." 28 U.S.C.A. § 1915(b)(1). Because the PLRA was in effect at the time the appeal was filed, the fee provisions are applicable and Mr. Shabazz had notice that they would be applied to him.

II.

Mr. Shabazz also challenges the fee provisions as violative of his constitutional rights, asserting that he should not be forced to choose between spending his limited prison account on the small amenities of life available to him in prison and pursuing an appeal. We are not persuaded.

The fee provisions of the PLRA require that:

(2) A prisoner seeking to bring a civil action or appeal a judgment in a civil action or proceeding without prepayment of fees or security therefor,

... shall submit a certified copy of the trust fund account statement (or institutional equivalent) for the prisoner for the 6-month period immediately preceding the filing of the complaint or notice of appeal, obtained from the appropriate official of each prison at which the prisoner is or was confined.

28 U.S.C.A. § 1915(a)(2). The PLRA further provides:

(b)(1) Notwithstanding subsection (a), if a prisoner brings a civil action or files an appeal in forma pauperis, the prisoner shall be required to pay the full amount of a filing fee. The court shall assess and, when funds exist, collect, as a partial payment of any court fees required by law, an initial partial filing fee of 20 percent of the greater of--

(A) the average monthly deposits to the prisoner's account; or

(B) the average monthly balance in the prisoner's account for the 6-month period immediately...

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