669 F.2d 779 (D.C. Cir. 1981), 81-8014, In re Green

Docket Nº:81-8014.
Citation:669 F.2d 779
Party Name:In re Reverend Clovis Carl GREEN, Jr.
Case Date:December 08, 1981
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit

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669 F.2d 779 (D.C. Cir. 1981)

In re Reverend Clovis Carl GREEN, Jr.

No. 81-8014.

United States Court of Appeals, District of Columbia Circuit

December 8, 1981

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Appeal from the United States District Court for the District of Columbia (D.C.Misc. No. 80-0223).

Clovis Carl Green, Jr., pro se.

On Motions for Leave to Appeal In Forma Pauperis

Before WALD, MIKVA and EDWARDS, Circuit Judges.



The Reverend Clovis Carl Green, Jr., seeks leave to appeal in forma pauperis two orders of the district court entered March 10 and June 12, 1981. 1 The first order

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Green seeks to have this court review is the district court's denial of reconsideration of an order entered September 3, 1980, directing the clerk of the district court not to file any further papers submitted by Green. 2 The second order amended the first to provide that Green would be permitted to file claims in the district court only upon payment of all filing fees plus a $100 cash deposit as security for costs. Because we hold that these orders violate Green's statutory and constitutional rights of access to the courts, we grant the motions to proceed on appeal in forma pauperis and sua sponte vacate the district court's amended order of June 12, 1981. We are in complete agreement, however, with the conclusion reached by the district court, and the other federal courts Green has besieged, that Green's pattern of repetitive, frivolous and malicious filings constitutes a flagrant and serious abuse of the judicial process and must come to a stop. The injunctive order we direct the district court to enter today is designed to curb this abuse while observing Green's constitutional rights of access to the courts.


Clovis Carl Green is in all likelihood the most prolific prisoner litigant in recorded history. In the last decade Green has filed between 600 and 700 complaints in federal and state courts. 3 His litigious sojourns throughout the nation's prison systems have been recounted and catalogued by many other courts. 4 It will suffice for present purposes to observe that the vast majority of these complaints have concerned the terms and conditions of Green's confinement in state and federal prisons, and more specifically, the activities of the Human Awareness Universal Life Church, of which Green is founder and sole reverend. 5

Green apparently is not a wealthy man. The sheer cost in terms of time and money of submitting hundreds of complaints and

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petitions to prison authorities, district courts and appellate courts would generally be prohibitive. But Green has had the time (he has at all relevant times been incarcerated in prison) and he has not needed the funds. Section 1915(a) of Title 28 has allowed him to proceed in the district court in forma pauperis upon a showing by affidavit of inability to afford the usual fees or costs. 6

Some of Green's filings have been found by courts to be malicious and therefore have been dismissed under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(d). 7 Many are patently frivolous and have been properly dismissed for that reason. Most of Green's complaints are, as might be expected, duplicative of prior frivolous ones and therefore have not been entertained at all by the courts. Furthermore, it appears that such repetitive filings are a result of neither inadvertence nor forgetfulness. Rather, Green has deliberately flooded the courts with his complaints and petitions (and encouraged other prisoner-churchmembers to do the same), in a vain attempt to gain his release from prison. 8

Ironically, Green appears to be his own worst enemy. Green's ten-year sentence for rape, imposed by the Jackson County, Missouri circuit court in 1975, apparently was completed in 1980. United States v. Green, 630 F.2d 566, 567 (8th Cir.), cert. denied, 449 U.S. 904, 101 S.Ct. 277, 66 L.Ed.2d 135 (1980). Although he has had prior scrapes with the law, 9 Green would be a free man today were it not for the several sentences the district court for the Western District of Missouri imposed for contempt convictions in 1978 and 1979 stemming from Green's writ-writing and jailhouse lawyering "on behalf of" his fellow inmates. 10 If

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he does not abandon "his desire to prevent the federal court from being able to process its docket," 11 he may well end up with still more jail time for his contumely.

Several circuits plagued by Green's indefatigable litigiousness have resorted to extraordinary and novel remedies to halt this blatant abuse of the judicial process. See Green v. Carlson, 649 F.2d 285, 286 (5th Cir. 1981) (threat of contempt sanction if Green's pattern should continue), cert. denied, --- U.S. ----, 102 S.Ct. 646, 70 L.Ed.2d ---- (Nov. 30, 1981); Green v. Martinez, Nos. 81-9028 et al. (5th Cir. April 27, 1981) (order barring the filing of complaints or petitions accompanied by an application to proceed in forma pauperis unless Green specifically alleges "constitutional deprivation by reason of physical harm or threat to Green's person"), cert. denied, --- U.S. ----, 102 S.Ct. 299, 70 L.Ed.2d 146 (1981); Green v. White, 616 F.2d 1054, 1055 (8th Cir. 1980) (same, plus order requiring (1) verification of each complaint and petition and (2) inclusion in every pleading of a list of all causes previously filed on the same, a similar or a related cause of action); In re Clovis Carl Green, 598 F.2d 1126, 1128 (8th Cir. 1979) (en banc ) (order directing clerk not to file any mandamus petitions submitted by Green challenging the regularity of district court proceedings).

This circuit unfortunately has not escaped Green's attention. Green has filed thirty-eight complaints in the district court, eighteen of these in one year (1980). 12 The most recent controversy grows out of a class action Green filed in the district court in April 1980 alleging harassment by prison officials of the Human Life Awareness Church and deprivation of constitutional rights. Specifically, however, Green injected into the complaint his own particular grievance, protesting his frequent transfer among federal prisons as an alleged effort to deprive him of access to the courts. The district court ordered the suit transferred to the Northern District of Georgia. D.D.C. Civ. Action No. 80-1039. Green sought review

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of this order by way of mandamus. 13 His motion for leave to file such a petition in forma pauperis was granted by a panel of this court. D.C.Cir. No. 80-8013 (May 19, 1980). Thereafter, the United States Attorney responded to the mandamus petition on behalf of the district court. The government's response brought Green's litigious history to the attention of the panel for the first time. This court denied Green's petition and ordered "that the Clerk is instructed not to file any further papers submitted by this litigant." D.C.Cir. No. 80-1760 (August 29, 1980).

In the interim the district court had dismissed twelve more complaints filed by Green. The district court issued a short opinion citing Green's scorecard of abuse and the efforts of other courts to curb it. Green v. United States District Court, 494 F.Supp. 1037 (D.D.C.1980). Green appealed only the first five dismissals. 14 Pursuant to this court's August 29 order, the clerk terminated the dockets in these five unresolved appeals. 15 See D.C.Cir. No. 80-8023 (Clerk's order of September 9, 1980).

Following this court's prophylactic order of August 29, 1980, the district court on September 3 opened a new docket, Misc. No. 80-0223, and issued an identical order prohibiting the filing of any papers submitted by Green. Green did not appeal this order. The Supreme Court declined to review by way of certiorari both this court's August 29 order, 449 U.S. 904, 101 S.Ct. 277, 66 L.Ed.2d 135 (No. 80-5415, October 14, 1980), and the September 9 clerk's order terminating five dockets, 449 U.S. 1064, 101 S.Ct. 790, 66 L.Ed.2d 607 (1980).

On March 9, 1981, Green submitted to this court a motion for reconsideration of the August 29 order. One day later, Green moved in the district court for similar reconsideration of the district court's September 3 order. The district court denied this latter request March 26. On April 10, Green sought leave to appeal in forma pauperis this denial of reconsideration. This court filed Green's motion and assigned it a miscellaneous number, D.C.Cir. No. 80-8014.

In the interim this court had amended its August 29 order in No. 80-1760. As amended by order of March 6, 1981, this court instructed the clerk of this court

to review all pleadings and other documents submitted by this litigant upon receipt and to file and enter same on the docket, unless it appears that the tendered materials are repetitive or frivolous on their face in which case they are to be brought to the attention of the sitting motions division of this Court for appropriate summary disposition. 16

The district court, now without the support of this court's "no further papers" order, filed Green's motion for modification of the September 3 order on June 12 in Misc. No. 80-0223 and amended its order to read that

Petitioner is permitted to file actions in this court provided he first pays all filing fees and for each action filed makes a cash deposit of $100 with the Clerk as security for costs.

Green noticed his appeal from this order on July 6. 17 In his pro se motion for leave to proceed on appeal in forma pauperis, Green charges, citing only Bounds v. Smith, 430

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U.S. 817, 97 S.Ct. 1491, 52 L.Ed.2d 72 (1977), that the district court's orders deprive him of his constitutional right of access to the court. Thus, these appeals seek judicial review of the constitutionality of the efforts of the district court to rid this circuit of the Reverend Clovis Carl Green, Jr. Ironically, these appeals do raise nonfrivolous issues concerning the scope of Green's right of access to federal court. We thus must give...

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