Carter v. Telectron, Inc.

Decision Date16 December 1977
Docket NumberCiv. A. No. 71-H-944.
Citation452 F. Supp. 944
PartiesAlbert H. CARTER v. TELECTRON, INC.
CourtU.S. District Court — Southern District of Texas



CARL O. BUE, Jr., District Judge.


This is a case of first impression in this Circuit, so far as this Court can determine, involving the practices employed in the filing and processing of civil lawsuits by one who is unquestionably the most litigious prisoner in the Southern District of Texas. The questions before the Court are: (1) should the 17 causes of action dismissed by this Court on March 7, 1977, for failure of plaintiff, Albert H. Carter, a felon incarcerated at the Texas Department of Corrections (TDC), to pay filing and service fees as ordered be reinstated under the in forma pauperis provisions of 28 U.S.C. § 1915; (2) if not reinstated, should the previous dismissals be construed to be with or without prejudice, and (3) in light of certain practices of plaintiff which have come to the attention of this Court and are documented in this Memorandum and Opinion, should plaintiff's ready, cost-free access to the courts based on the privilege of proceeding in forma pauperis without prepayment of fees under Section 1915 be more closely monitored pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1651 and 1915 in light of his continuing abuse of this privilege and the judicial process?

A. Albert Carter as a Pro Se Litigant

An analysis of the 178 cases currently known to have been filed by plaintiff throughout the country which this Court has documented in order to resolve the questions presented, see List of Cases, Part III.B.1., infra, illustrates that Carter is a proficient pro se litigant with 15 years experience. His abilities, however, on the whole have directed him not in the bona fide pursuit of meritorious causes, but rather, as documented in this opinion, toward the perpetual exploitation, abuse and harassment of the judicial system and various defendants who have figured in his life over the past two decades.

Carter's long list of problems, which serve as the fount for his many suits, began while he was a United States Air Force officer. As described in detail in Carter v. United States, 509 F.2d 1150, 206 Ct.Cl. 61 (1975), modified, 518 F.2d 1199, cert. denied, 423 U.S. 1076, 96 S.Ct. 861, 47 L.Ed.2d 86 (1976), and Carter v. United States, 325 F.2d 697 (5th Cir. 1963), cert. denied, 377 U.S. 946, 84 S.Ct. 1353, 12 L.Ed.2d 308 (1964), Carter, during his 12 year tenure in the Air Force from 1948 to 1960, performed with distinction as a bombardier-navigator. His creditable record, however, faded rapidly into censure during 1959. It was during that period that he came under suspicion by law enforcement authorities for a series of criminal acts involving fraud and was placed in mental hospitals for examination and treatment, where, among other things, he committed a severe act of self-mutilation. Carter thereafter was discharged from the Air Force in December of 1960. His difficulties spilled over into the civilian world where they continued unabated and eventually led to a life sentence in the Texas Department of Corrections as a habitual criminal offender, his convictions being based on perjury and embezzlement.

Since his incarceration Carter has been a prolific litigant, but he scarcely fits the usual mold. The typical inmate who believes that he possesses a meritorious claim, being inarticulate and unschooled in the law, plods slowly along an unfamiliar path of legal rules and procedures. He is in need of the liberal protection embodied in Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 92 S.Ct. 594, 30 L.Ed.2d 652 (1972). On the other hand, although Carter uses the common tools available to a prisoner in filing pro se and in forma pauperis, he is an uncommon prisoner litigant. First of all, as indicated by the List of Cases in Part III.B.1., infra, Carter has been an active litigant since the time of his Air Force discharge in 1960, years prior to the sudden rise in prisoner litigation of this decade and his incarceration as an habitual criminal in 1972. It is indeed important to note that the earliest suits located by this Court, brought in the spring of 1961, were filed pro se and in forma pauperis. See List of Cases, Nos. 120, 144 thru 149.

Secondly, Carter is unlike most pro se prisoner litigants in that many of his actions, and most of those which are repetitious of earlier filings, are not civil rights actions based on the conditions of his confinement but are based on facts stemming from events which occurred prior to his present incarceration, commencing with his Air Force discharge and thereafter relating to other employments, business dealings and criminal difficulties. Thus, the bulk of Carter's filings represent a number of lengthy private wars and vendettas which Carter has carried out at no monetary expense to himself pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915.1 For example, he has filed 12 actions over a 15-year period against the United States and Air Force officials challenging numerous matters connected with his discharge from the Air Force. See List of Cases, Nos. 120 thru 131. In one of these recently-filed actions, see List of Cases, No. 131, Judge John H. Pratt, United States District Judge for the District of Columbia, dismissed plaintiff's complaint against the United States on the grounds of res judicata, noting that:

"this action seems particularly appropriate for applying the doctrine of res judicata. The purpose of that doctrine is to eliminate needless repetitive litigation. This case is a paradigm of needless repetitive litigation. It has gone on for over 14 years and involved the energies of at least six courts, not to mention the thousands of hours of time expended by countless civil servants."

Carter v. United States, (Memorandum and Order, C.A. 76-1181, August 4, 1977, at 4); see Supplemental File, Exhibit A.

Judge Pratt's appraisal of Carter's litigation on his Air Force discharge, while emphasizing its typically duplicative, harassing nature, also suggests the major difference between Carter and other prisoner litigants. That is, Carter as a pro se plaintiff has an extensive working knowledge of the substantive law and procedural rules in areas of interest for purposes of his litigation.2 Given Carter's easy access to the federal court through Section 1915, the de-centralized and uncoordinated court system has been an easy target for a litigant who, although schooled in the law, lacks the requisite good faith in implementing its use. Thus, by abusing the Section 1915 privilege which allows a pauper to bring causes of actions without prepayment of fees, and deliberately circumventing fundamental procedural rules, as is hereafter documented in Part III., infra, Carter has succeeded in (1) prosecuting duplicate actions simultaneously in multiple courts, (2) obtaining default judgments through the use of techniques designed to avoid actual service of process on a defendant, (3) conducting ex parte litigation made possible by his acknowledged failure to serve pleadings on opposing parties, (4) misrepresenting his status as a pauper for purposes of the Section 1915 determination to this and other courts, (5) varying allegations of state citizenship for purposes of federal diversity jurisdiction to fit the necessities of a particular case and (6) submitting pleadings and documents in legal proceedings which upon inspection and comparison raise the spectre of forgery.

The case filings and related practices documented in this opinion necessarily have raised questions as to the merits of any of his 99 complaints heretofore filed in this District and the truthfulness of the allegations contained therein. In addition to his own standing in this and other courts in this District, Carter also has jeopardized the cause of other prisoner litigants. Because he has filed more than double the number of complaints in the Southern District as any other prisoner litigant, he necessarily has become a focal point for scrutiny and control both by the Staff Law Clerk and this Court, thereby shifting judicial resources away from other prisoner litigants who are prosecuting causes of action in good faith. Although it is apparent from the sheer bulk of material contained herein that the entire judicial process is treated as akin to a game by Carter, heretofore financed at the expense of the public, the abuses of such process and the Section 1915 privilege which are described in this opinion are viewed most seriously by this Court; indeed, they call for immediate, responsive remedial measures aimed at controlling any further manifestations through the judicial outlet of Carter's hostility and pique.

B. Need for Effective Control of Multiple Filers Such as Plaintiff

The number of cases filed by prisoners has increased dramatically in this decade. Total prisoner petitions, both civil rights and habeas corpus, climbed to almost 20,000 nationwide for the 12-month period ending June 30, 1977, compared to approximately 16,000 petitions for the year 1972, thus representing a 25 percent increase in the last five years. ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICE OF THE UNITED STATES COURTS, THE UNITED STATES COURTS: A PICTORIAL SUMMARY THROUGH THE TWELVE-MONTH PERIOD ENDING JUNE 30, 1977, at 14 (hereafter "THE UNITED STATES COURTS: A PICTORIAL SUMMARY"); see FEDERAL JUDICIAL CENTER, RECOMMENDED PROCEDURES FOR HANDLING PRISONER CIVIL RIGHTS CASES IN THE FEDERAL COURTS (Tentative Report No. 2, 1977), at 6 (hereafter "Aldisert Report No. 2"). Additionally, as of June 30, 1977, actions brought by state and federal prisoners represented 15 percent of all pending civil cases in the federal courts, the second largest category behind contract actions at 18 percent. THE UNITED STATES COURTS: A PICTORIAL SUMMARY, at 13. In the Southern District of Texas and other district courts whose jurisdiction encompasses a large prison population, the...

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