209 F.3d 1025 (7th Cir. 2000), 99-3250, Lee v. Clinton

Docket Nº:99-3250 & 99-3859
Citation:209 F.3d 1025
Party Name:Minghao Lee, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. William J. Clinton, et al., Defendants-Appellees.
Case Date:April 10, 2000
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit
 
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Page 1025

209 F.3d 1025 (7th Cir. 2000)

Minghao Lee, Plaintiff-Appellant,

v.

William J. Clinton, et al., Defendants-Appellees.

Nos. 99-3250 & 99-3859

In the United States Court of Appeals, For the Seventh Circuit

April 10, 2000

Submitted February 24, 2000

Appeals from the United States District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin. Nos. 99 C 501 & 99 C 607--Barbara B. Crabb, Judge.

Before Posner, Chief Judge, and Diane P. Wood and Evans, Circuit Judges.

Posner, Chief Judge.

The plaintiff, Lee, filed two insane complaints charging the United States and China with a conspiracy to "bio-chemically and bio-technologically infect and invade" various people including Lee with a mind reading and mental torture device that Lee calls "Mind Accessing and Torturing via Remote Energy Transferring (MATRET)." To elude MATRET, Lee claims to have developed a variety of space technologies, oddly including an email system and nanny services, that will enable the victims of MATRET to relocate to MATRET-free planets. The district judge dismissed the suits as frivolous, but granted Lee leave to appeal in forma pauperis.

Page 1026

We have held that "the granting of leave to appeal in forma pauperis from the dismissal of a frivolous suit is presumptively erroneous and indeed self-contradictory," Tolefree v. Cudahy, 49 F.3d 1243, 1244 (7th Cir. 1995), but that was before the Prison Litigation Reform Act amended 28 U.S.C. sec. 1915, the statute governing proceedings in forma pauperis in the federal courts. The standard for refusing to permit an appeal to be taken in forma pauperis is that the appeal be certified by the district court in writing as "not taken in good faith," 28 U.S.C. sec. 1915(a)(3), and in Newlin v. Helman, 123 F.3d 429, 433 (7th Cir. 1997), we suggested that "good faith" is not a synonym for "frivolous." Yet the two concepts have long been explicitly equated in decisions concerning pauper status, e.g., Coppedge v. United States, 369 U.S. 438, 444-46 (1962); Celske v. Edwards, 164 F.3d 396, 398 (7th Cir. 1999); Lucien v. Roegner, 682 F.2d 625, 626 (7th Cir. 1982) (per curiam); Wooten v. District of Columbia Metropolitan Police Dept., 129 F.3d 206, 208 (D.C. Cir. 1997); Urrutia v. Harrisburg County Police Dept., 91 F.3d 451, 455 n. 6 (3d Cir. 1996); Drummer v. Luttrell, 75 F.Supp.2d 796, 805 (W.D. Tenn. 1999), though only Celske and Urrutia arose under the PLRA. We have found only two cases, besides Newlin, that deem a determination of "good faith" to require a subjective inquiry and a determination of "frivolousness" merely an objective inquiry, Hyche v. Christensen, 170 F.3d 769, 770 (7th Cir. 1999); Jaffe v. United States, 246 F.2d 760, 761 (2d Cir. 1957) (L. Hand, J.), and only one is a PLRA case. The district court thought that because Lee does not appear to be faking madness, a la Hamlet, there is no ground for supposing him to be acting in subjective bad faith in filing his fantastic lawsuits. But he is acting in bad faith in the more...

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