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PLRA 'Strike' Removed

A federal district court in Maryland issued an order removing a PLRA "strike" against a prisoner litigant. The Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA) added section (g) to 28 U.S.C. § 1915. The new section states that whenever a prisoner has had three suits dismissed as frivolous or for failing to state a claim that prisoner will be prevented from filing future suits unless they pre-pay the entire filing fees. Robert Dalvin, a Maryland state prisoner, filed suit after the prison librarian refused to provide him with a copy of the local federal court's standing order on prison litigation. The court dismissed the suit as frivolous and instructed the court clerk to enter a notation in its docketing system indicating that the dismissal was Dalvin's first "strike" for PLRA purposes.

Dalvin filed a motion for reconsideration asking that the dismissal not count as a "strike" for PLRA purposes. The court agreed and ordered the strike removed. The court found that Dalvin's suit was "legally misguided" but undertaken in good faith. The court noted that the PLRA was silent about any exceptions to its blanket three strikes rule but held that under Fed.R.Civ.P. 60(b)(6) the courts have authority to eliminate "strikes" in cases where imposing them is "manifestly, unduly harsh and inappropriately punitive." The court noted that rescission of strikes will be a rare event in that court. See: Dalvin v. Beshears, 943 F. Supp. 578 (D MD 1996).

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