Aruanno v. Davis

Decision Date09 March 2016
Docket NumberCivil Action No. 14-3413 (WJM), Civil Action No. 14-5100 (WJM), Civil Action No. 14-5099 (WJM)
Citation168 F.Supp.3d 719
Parties Joseph Aruanno, Plaintiff, v. Sarah Davis, Defendants. Joseph Aruanno, Plaintiff, v. State of New Jersey, Defendants. Joseph Aruanno, Plaintiff, v. Sarah Davis, Defendants.
CourtU.S. District Court — District of New Jersey

JOSEPH ARUANNO, #363, Special Treatment Unit, P.O. Box 905, Avenel, New Jersey 07001, Plaintiff Pro Se

OPINION

MARTINI, District Judge:

Joseph Aruanno, who is civilly committed to the Special Treatment Unit under the New Jersey Sexually Violent Predator Act, has been granted in forma pauperis status in at least 33 civil rights actions in this Court. After this Court dismissed, and the Third Circuit affirmed dismissal of at least 13 civil rights cases since 2011, this Court issued an Order to Show Cause, accompanied by an Opinion, directing Aruanno to show why this Court should not deny his requests to proceed in forma pauperis in the above captioned non-habeas civil actions because he has abused the privilege of proceeding in forma pauperis and his allegations do not show that he is in imminent danger of serious physical injury. Aruanno responded to the Order to Show Cause, arguing that he is in imminent danger, that this Court should appoint a guardian, that it would be unfair to deny in forma pauperis status in habeas corpus cases, and that this Court improperly dismissed his prior civil rights cases. This Court finds that Aruanno has abused the privilege of proceeding in forma pauperis and none of the allegations in the three actions presently before the Court indicates that Aruanno faces imminent danger of serious physical injury. The Court will deny his applications to proceed in forma pauperis in the above cases and administratively terminate these actions subject to reopening in the event that Aruanno prepays the $400 filing and administrative fee in each or any case, provided he does so within 30 days of the date of the entry of the Order accompanying this Opinion.

I. BACKGROUND

Aruanno seeks permission to proceed in forma pauperis and to thereby file two civil rights complaints and a petition for mandamus without payment of the $400 filing and administrative fees in each case. Specifically, he seeks to bring Aruanno v. Davis , Civil Number 14-3413 (WJM), against Sarah Davis, the Assistant Superintendent of the Special Treatment Unit, alleging that “certain staff refuse to close our cell doors as needed[, which] permits other residents/patients to watch us using the toilet [that] is right in the doorway where some masturbate, etc.” (Civ. No. 3413, ECF No. 1 at 6.) Aruanno further asserts that officials allow residents to shield themselves with a four-foot curtain, but he cannot afford to buy a curtain. He further claims that “when sleeping, coming from the shower, etc., there are many female staff members who [ ] see us changing, etc., then say we were exposing ourselves to them, which then keeps us here longer.” Id. He alleges that “curtains are not necessary if the doors were fixed to slide closed, as we were told when we moved in here, but defendant Sarah Davis just informed me in writing that the doors will not be adjusted and that curtains are a ‘PRIVILEGE’ that will be taken away, which has happened, which has forced this submission, and others, requesting that this court address our PRIVACY RIGHTS and how they apply to a therapeutic existence here.” Id. at 7. Aruanno seeks injunctive relief, declaratory relief, and damages of ten million dollars.

Aruanno also seeks to file without prepayment of fees Aruanno v. Yates , Civil Number 14-5100 (WJM), against Administrator Yates, Assistant Superintendent Davis, and John/Jane Does 1-20. He claims that he is “being denied legal access such as a law library,” research material, forms, envelopes, typewriters, photocopies, and paralegals. (Civ. No. 14-5100, ECF No. 1 at 6.) He asserts that “the injury inflicted as a result is such as the U.S. Supreme Court denying petition No. 12-9040 by way of letter dated 7/3/2013 because I could not obtain PHOTOCOPIES in time.”1 Id. He further alleges that the state, JOHN/JANE DOES, et al., fail/refuse to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act; the Rehabilitation Act; the Law Against Discrimination, etc., where they have held, and upheld, for years that I am an incompetent person lacking intellectual cognitive abilities, need certain medications to be able to gain reality, etc., but then, as an involuntarily civilly committed person, fail/refuse to APPOINT A ‘GUARDIAN,’ etc., to assist me in properly and fairly accessing the court[s].” Id.

Aruanno also seeks to file in forma pauperis a Petition for Writ of Mandamus against the State of New Jersey in Aruanno v. State of New Jersey , Civil Number 14-5099 (WJM). Aruanno states in this pleading that he is submitting the petition for mandamus “in reply to the letter I just received from the Clerk of the U.S. Court of Appeals dated 8/10/14 which was in reply to my request about the outcome of my Petition for Rehearing En Banc” (Civ. No. 14-5099 (WJM), ECF No. 1 at 2.)

Aruanno seeks to proceed in forma pauperis in these three non-habeas civil actions. Instead of granting in forma pauperis status, this Court issued an Order to Show Cause directing Aruanno to show cause why the Court should not deny his requests to proceed in forma pauperis because he has abused the privilege of proceeding in forma pauperis and his allegations do not show that he is in imminent danger of serious physical injury.

II. DISCUSSION

The federal in forma pauperis statute, enacted in 1892 and codified as 28 U.S.C. § 1915, “is designed to ensure that indigent litigants have meaningful access to the federal courts.” Neitzke v. Williams , 490 U.S. 319, 324, 109 S.Ct. 1827, 104 L.Ed.2d 338 (1989). This Court has the discretionary authority to deny in forma pauperis status to persons who have abused the privilege. See, e.g., In re McDonald , 489 U.S. 180, 109 S.Ct. 993, 103 L.Ed.2d 158 (1989) (denying in forma pauperis status to non-prisoner seeking to file a petition for a writ of habeas corpus in the Supreme Court, where the person had pursued 73 prior filings); Zatko v. California , 502 U.S. 16, 112 S.Ct. 355, 116 L.Ed.2d 293 (1991) (denying applications to proceed in forma pauperis to file a habeas corpus petition to one petitioner who filed 73 petitions and to another petitioner who filed 45 petitions); Mar t in v. District of Columbia Court of Appeals , 506 U.S. 1, 113 S.Ct. 397, 121 L.Ed.2d 305 (1992) (denying in forma pauperis application of “a notorious abuser of this Court's certiorari process,” who had filed 11 petitions which were frivolous, with the arguable exception of one); Butler v. Depart ment of Justice , 492 F.3d 440, 444–45 (D.C.Cir.2007) (denying in forma pauperis application of a prisoner who did not have three strikes, but who had on at least five prior occasions brought appeals that were dismissed for failure to prosecute). This Court's discretionary authority to deny in forma pauperis status to persons who have abused the privilege derives from § 1915(a) itself, see 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a) (“any court of the United States may authorize the commencement ... of any suit ... without prepayment of fees or security therefor”) (emphasis added), and federal courts' “inherent power and constitutional obligation to protect their jurisdiction from conduct which impairs their ability to carry out Article III functions.”In re McDonald , 489 U.S. at 185 n. 8, 109 S.Ct. 993 (quoting In re Martin Trigona , 737 F.2d 1254, 1261 (2d Cir.1984) ). As the Supreme Court explained,

[P]aupers filing pro se petitions are not subject to the financial considerations — filing fees and attorney's fees — that deter other litigants from filing frivolous petitions. Every paper filed with the Clerk of this Court, no matter how repetitious or frivolous, requires some portion of the institution's limited resources. A part of the Court's responsibility is to see that these resources are allocated in a way that promotes the interests of justice. The continual processing of petitioner's frivolous requests ... does not promote that end.

In re McDonald , 489 U.S. at 184, 109 S.Ct. 993.

In 1996 Congress curtailed the ability of prisoners to take advantage of the privilege of filing in forma pauperis by enacting a “three strikes rule,” which provides: “In no event shall a prisoner bring a civil action or appeal a judgment in a civil action or proceeding under this section if the prisoner has, on 3 or more prior occasions, while incarcerated or detained in any facility, brought an action or appeal in a court of the United States that was dismissed on the grounds that it is frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, unless the prisoner is under imminent danger of serious physical injury.” 28 U.S.C. § 1915(g). Although Aruanno is not a prisoner,2 the adoption of a judicial limitation in Aruanno's cases mirroring the PLRA's “three strikes” provision applicable to prisoners and including its “imminent danger” exception is necessary to create a uniform policy denying the privilege of proceeding in forma pauperis to abusive litigants and to allocate this Court's resources in a way that promotes the interest of justice. See Mitchell v. Federal Bureau of Prisons , 587 F.3d 415 (D.C.Cir.2010) (crafting a discretionary rule mirroring § 1915(g)'s imminent danger exception to deny in forma pauperis application brought by a prisoner who had only two “strikes” but had 63 cases that were dismissed for reasons other than failure to state a claim); Douris v. Middletown Township , 293 Fed.Appx. 130 (3d Cir.2008) (affirming discretionary denial of non-prisoner's in forma pauperis application based on Douris's eight prior unsuccessful civil actions); cf. Kansas v. Colorado , 556 U.S. 98, 108, 129 S.Ct. 1294, 173 L.Ed.2d 245 (2009) (crafting a discretionary rule...

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3 cases
  • Aruanno v. Johnson
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — Third Circuit
    • March 22, 2017
    ...evidence that Aruanno is legally incompetent, and he has not presented us with any new evidence of ineptitude. See Aruanno v. Davis, 168 F. Supp. 3d 719, 724 (D.N.J. 2016), aff'd, No. 16-1855, 2017 WL 619993 (3d Cir. Feb. 15, 2017). And as we have previously informed Aruanno, we are aware o......
  • Aruanno v. Corzine
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — Third Circuit
    • April 25, 2017
    ...that Aruanno is legally incompetent, and Aruanno has not presented us with any new evidence of ineptitude. See Aruanno v. Davis, 168 F. Supp. 3d 719, 724 (D.N.J 2016), aff'd, No. 16-1855, 2017 WL 619993 (3d Cir. Feb. 15, 2017). And as we have previously informed Aruanno, we are aware of no ......
  • Alves v. Main
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — Third Circuit
    • April 21, 2017
    ...and Aruanno has not presented us with any new evidence that he is incapable of representing himself. See Aruanno v. Davis, 168 F. Supp. 3d 719, 724 (D.N.J. 2016), aff'd, Nos. 16-1855, 16-1856, 16-1857, 2017 WL 619993 (3d Cir. Feb. 15, 2017). And as we have previously informed Aruanno, we ar......
1 books & journal articles
  • Part two: case summaries by major topics.
    • United States
    • Detention and Corrections Caselaw Quarterly No. 69, June 2017
    • June 1, 2017
    ...New Jersey Sexually Violent Predator Act) U.S. District Court IN FORMA PAUPERIS PLRA-Prison Litigattion Report Act Aruanno v. Davis, 168 F.Supp.3d 719 (D.N.J. 2016). A detainee who was civilly committed under New Jersey's Sexually Violent Predator Act filed application to proceed in forma p......

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