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Maine DOC's Dirty Trick in Prisoner Lawsuit Challenging Food and Phone

by Christopher Zoukis

The legal eagles at the Maine Department of Corrections have successfully okie-doked prisoner Kevin J. Collins out of $150 in his lawsuit challenging food services and the prison's telephone system.

Collins filed his lawsuit appealing the denial of his grievances in December 2012. He alleged indigency, and included a cover letter stating that he would be sending a copy of his general client account statement, as is required by Maine law when a prisoner claims indigent status. After being served, the DOC moved that the case be stayed until Collins paid the full $150 filing fee. The court agreed and ordered Collins to pay the fee within 90 days. Collins did so.

The DOC then pulled a classic dirty trick, and moved that the case be dismissed because Collins hadn't filed the required copy of his general client account statement within 30 days. Despite the fact that he had already paid the full filing fee, the court dismissed the case. Score one for the illustrious seekers of justice at the Maine DOC.

The Maine Supreme Judicial Court may not have been amused, however. Despite its own dismissal of Collins' appeal for the same exact reason--failure to file a copy of his general client account statement--the court did not seem to approve of the DOC's actions.

"Finally," said the court, "we note that best practice in such prisoner appeals would be for the State to file a motion to dismiss an apparently untimely petition at the outset of the proceedings, rather than cause the petitioner to pay the $150 fee and then move to dismiss the action."


Case: Collins v. Department of Corrections, Maine Supreme Judicial Court, Docket No. Ken-14-236 (August 13, 2015).

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Related legal case

Collins v. Department of Corrections