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South Carolina Prisoner's Case Dismissed Under Three Strikes Rule of PLRA

Prisoner James G. Blakely, according to the decision, “has pursued over forty cases in federal district court, ten appeals in this Court, and numerous suits in state court.” The case before the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals dealt with a Section 1983 action, including the South Carolina Department of Corrections, for various complaints dealing with constitutional rights violations.

The state sought to bar Blakely’s filing in forma pauperis (IFP), claiming that he had exceeded the three “strikes,” as set forth in the Prisoner Litigation Reform Act, barring free filings by prisoners who had three or more suits dismissed as “frivolous.” He argued that many of the cases were dismissed on summary judgment, and that they did not constitute strikes under 28 U.S.C. Section 1915(g), citing Tolbert v. Stevenson, 635 F.3d 646 (4th Cir. 2011).

The court distinguished Tolbert, however, noting that there was some contrary authority, holds that “if a summary judgment order states on its face that the district court considered the statutory criteria for a strike to have been met, then the summary judgment dismissal should count as a strike.” The court then dismissed Blakely’s motion for reconsideration of the dismissal of his IFP request on his current complaint. See: Blakely v. Wards, 701 F.3d 995 (4th Cir. 2012).

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Related legal case

Blakely v. Wards