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Legal Self-Help Handbook for DC Prisoners at DC Jail and CTF, D.C. Prisoners Project, 2008

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A LEGAL SELF-HELP
HANDBOOK
for
District of Columbia Prisoners
at the D.C. Jail and
Correctional Treatment
Facility (CTF)
First Edition
D.C. Prisoners’ Project
Washington Lawyers' Committee
for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs
2008

Introduction
The D.C. Prisoners’ Project of the Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil
Rights and Urban Affairs is devoted to advocating for the legal rights of D.C.
prisoners. Unfortunately, we do not have the money or legal staff to represent every
prisoner. We recognize that most of you have no access to an attorney.
We prepared this handbook to provide you with general information about your
legal rights while you are in jail and how to enforce those rights. It is written with
you in mind—a person currently confined at the D.C. Jail or Correctional Treatment
Facility (CTF) in Washington, D.C. If you are not treated properly while you are in
jail, this handbook will help you understand your options. This handbook is
designed to help you proceed pro se—meaning, without an attorney.

This handbook WILL:
• teach you about some of the rights you have while you are
incarcerated.
•

outline the steps you must take before you ask a court for help

•

help you figure out if you have a legal claim

•

get you started, if you do decide to ask a court for help

•

give you some court case references

This handbook WILL NOT:
•

help you challenge your criminal conviction or your sentence under
District of Columbia or federal laws
Instead, you may contact the D.C. Public Defender Service for
assistance in preparing papers that challenge your sentence or conviction
in a criminal case (see Appendix I).

•

help you obtain a writ of habeas corpus
Courts have the authority to issue different kinds of writs. The most
common writs are for habeas corpus and mandamus. This handbook is
not designed to assist with writs of habeas corpus to challenge your
sentence or conviction.

•

provide you with in-depth information on the law

This handbook is not a legal research manual. For in-depth information,
visit your jail library. Books like the Jailhouse Lawyers’ Manual give
you more information on the law. If it is not in your jail library, you may
be able to obtain it (often for free) from the publisher1 or from a friend
or relative who has access to the Internet.
•

prepare you to conduct a trial
This handbook will help you get started. It will help you decide if you
have a legal claim and will tell you how to file the papers to start a
lawsuit. If you need to conduct discovery or if there is going to be a trial,
you should ask a lawyer or the D.C. Prisoners’ Project for help.

•

provide you with legal advice
This handbook helps you get started, but does not tell you everything
that you need to know. This handbook is not intended to replace the
advice of any attorney. This document does not represent legal advice
by the D.C. Prisoners’ Project, and it does not create an attorney
client relationship. Please rely on your own research!

Please let us know if you find this handbook helpful, if more subjects should be
covered, or if you learn that the jail or court rules have changed.

1

The Jailhouse Lawyers’ Manual (JLM) Seventh Edition main volume is $25. The Immigration &
Consular Access Supplement is $5. The JLM Spanish language edition is $15. First class shipping is
included in the price. Prices and availability may be subject to change. To purchase JLM or SJLM,
send a check or money order payable to Columbia Human Rights Law Review to: Columbia Human
Rights Law Review, Attn: JLM Order, 435 W. 116th St., New York , NY 10027.

3

Summary: What will this handbook tell me about the law?
This handbook will (1) tell you just enough to help you decide whether or not to
bring a lawsuit and (2) if you decide to bring a lawsuit, explain how to start your
lawsuit. This book will NOT help you prepare for the actual trial. If the judge
decides that your case should go to trial, you should seek the help of a lawyer.

Plaintiff (you)
Exhaust the administrative remedies
Follow all of the grievance procedures outlined in your
Inmate Handbook and policy statements. Go through the
entire grievance process, including appeals. You may skip
this step if you are bringing claims based only on D.C. tort
law (if you have no federal claims).

Research and plan
Read this handbook, organize
your documents, interview
witnesses, and conduct
research.

Determine if you have a legal claim and if you want to go to court
Based on what happened with your grievance appeal and your research, decide your next steps.

Provide notice. If needed, provide defendants (District of Columbia,
healthcare professionals) with notice and complete other
requirements before you file your Complaint.

File your Complaint with the court. Make sure you do this in time
(check the “statute of limitations”). File a motion to proceed in forma
pauperis.

Serve the defendants. Give or “serve” all defendants a
copy of the Complaint and a summons. If the court does
NOT grant your motion to proceed in forma pauperis,
arrange for a summons and your Complaint to be
delivered to all defendants.

Respond: You must respond to
the motion to dismiss. You
may want to make a motion to
amend your Complaint.

Denies motion to dismiss.
You and the defendant(s) conduct
discovery and prepare for trial. Ask
the D.C. Prisoners’ Project or
another lawyer for help.

Court

Defendant(s)
Responds to your
Complaint with an
“Answer.” Usually
within 20 days.

OR
Motion to dismiss:
Defendant might ask
the court to dismiss
your Complaint.

Grants motion to dismiss.
Your case ends. Decide if you
would like to appeal.

4

Table of Contents
Introduction.................................................................................................................2
Chapter One: Do I Need or Want to Go to Court? .....................................................6
Chapter Two: Am I Required to File a Grievance? ....................................................8
Chapter Three: Do I Have a Legal Claim? .................................................................9
A. Constitutional Claims....................................................................................9
B. Federal Statutory Claims.............................................................................11
C. State (D.C.) Common Law Tort Claims .....................................................12
Chapter Four: Which Court Should I Use?...............................................................23
A. U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.........................................23
B. Superior Court of the District of Columbia—Civil Division......................24
Chapter Five: Who Should I Sue? ............................................................................26
A. Your Facility ...............................................................................................26
B. Your Legal Claims ......................................................................................27
Chapter Six: How Do I Write a Complaint?.............................................................30
Chapter Seven: How Do I File a Complaint in the U.S. District Court of the District
of Columbia?.............................................................................................................37
Chapter Eight: How Do I File a Complaint in the Superior Court of the District of
Columbia?.................................................................................................................39
Chapter Nine: How Do I Serve the Defendant(s) with My Complaint?...................42
Chapter Ten: What Happens After I File My Complaint?........................................46
Appendix A: Grievance Procedures .........................................................................55
A. Steps in the Grievance Process at the D.C. Jail ..........................................55
B. Steps in the Grievance Process at the Correctional Treatment Facility
(CTF) ...............................................................................................................56
Appendix B: Jurisdiction Flowcharts .......................................................................59
Appendix C: Sample Complaints for U.S. District Court ........................................61
Appendix D: Forms for Filing a Complaint in U.S. District Court ..........................63
Appendix E: Sample Complaint for D.C. Superior Court ........................................81
Appendix F: Forms for Filing a Complaint in D.C. Superior Court—Civil Actions
Branch.......................................................................................................................85
Appendix G: Forms for Filing a Complaint in D.C. Superior Court—Small Claims
Branch.....................................................................................................................103
Appendix H: List of Process Servers......................................................................119
Appendix I: Resources............................................................................................120

5

Chapter One: Do I Need or Want to Go to Court?
There are many things to think about before you decide to file a Complaint and
initiate a lawsuit.
1. What exactly is my problem?
If you say or write down what your problem is in a few sentences, this might
clarify exactly what the problem is and what should be done to fix it.
2. What have I done to fix the problem?
In general, you should first use the grievance process at your jail—not go
immediately to the courts.
3. Do I want to go to court?
This is a decision that only you can make. However, there are some more
questions that you can ask yourself that might help you make a good decision.
a. Do I have a legal claim?
Some problems and unfair things happen and the law, unfortunately,
cannot fix them. So, even if you were treated unfairly or even
immorally, this does not always mean that you have a legal claim.
Chapter Three will help you start to identify your legal claim.
b. Can I prove my claim?
At some point, you will have to prove your claim. Start thinking about
documents that might exist to help your case, witnesses, and so forth. To
win in court, you must have a legal claim AND proof of your claim.
c. Even if I win, will I get what I want?
Do you want the court to order a change, to make someone start or stop
behaving in a certain way? Do you want money damages? Keep in mind
that what you want must be something the court can order. If you sue
someone with no money or assets then you might not get money
damages.
d. Even if I win and get what I want, will it be worth it?
Going to court can be demanding and expensive. If you cannot pay the
required fees all at once, the court may pay the fee for you or allow you
to pay the fee over time. Currently, the fee to file a Complaint with the
D.C. Superior Court is $120. The fee to file a Complaint with the U.S.
District Court for the District of Columbia is $350.
Litigation also involves complicated procedural rules. You must follow
strict rules and deadlines. For these reasons, it is usually best to go to
court only when serious or life-threatening matters are involved, or when
you cannot resolve the problem in another way.

6

These costs to you should be weighed against the benefits that you and
others might gain. If your problem is serious or life-threatening, your
potential gains are great and very important. You can sue to enforce only
your own rights (not someone else’s rights). But if your case could
greatly improve your own life or improve the lives of others, a lawsuit
can be a forceful tool for change.
d. Do I want to testify under oath?
If you file a lawsuit, it is very likely that you will have to testigy under
oath. That might be at court, and it might be during a deposition. A
deposition is where defendants can ask you questions in the presence of
a court reporter. You have to answer truthfully under oath. You might
not want to go through that for a lot of reasons.

7

Chapter Two: Am I Required to File a Grievance?
Before filing a lawsuit, you should always first work your way through the
grievance process. To file a lawsuit under any federal law, you must accurately and
completely file your administrative remedies. Working your way to the final level
of the grievance process is called “exhausting your administrative remedies.”
Although this requirement does not apply to claims that arise under D.C. law, it is
almost always better to exhaust your administrative remedies. It increases your
chance for a successful resolution of the problem, helps to make a paper trail, and
shows that you tried to do everything by the rules. It can also provide insight into
what the defendants will say in response to a lawsuit.
Both the D.C. Jail and CTF have grievance processes. They are not the same. Be
sure to use the right one. To find out how to file a grievance, see your Inmate
Handbook and policy statements. Appendix A also explains the steps in the
grievance process. Make sure you go through the entire grievance process,
including appeals.

8

Chapter Three: Do I Have a Legal Claim?
To bring a successful lawsuit, you must have a legal claim. The legal claim is the
illegal act that happened to you. This is also called a “cause of action.”
To start a lawsuit, you file a “Complaint” with the court. See Chapter Six. In the
Complaint, you will need to list all of your claims. There can be many claims that
arise from the same event. For example, if you are beaten by a correctional officer,
you might raise claims under the Fifth and Eighth Amendments of the U.S.
Constitution (constitutional law), 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (a federal statute), and D.C.
common law for assault, battery, and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
However, the specific law you choose will require that you prove certain things
(sometimes called “elements”). The specific law you choose will also influence
who you sue or name as a defendant. Each law also requires that you follow certain
deadlines for filing your claim in court.

Federal law vs. state law
Two basic types of laws are federal law and state law. Federal law is made by the federal
government (Congress). State law is made by the states (D.C.).
Constitutional vs. statutory vs. common law
•

Constitutional law is derived from the U.S. Constitution and generally applies only to
governments (federal, D.C. government) or those companies that the government contracts
with to do jobs that the government usually does (CCA, Unity Health Care).

•

Statutory law is a law that is made and written down, either by the federal government
(federal statutory law) in the U.S. Code or by D.C. (D.C. statutory law) in the D.C. Code.
Currently, Title 24 of the D.C. Code refers to Prisoners and Their Treatment.

•

Common law refers to law that judges make. Every time a judge hears a case, he/she must
interpret the law. So, by reading about cases, you can learn about common law. An example
of common law that this handbook will mention is D.C. tort law.

A. Constitutional Claims
Every person in the U.S. is protected by the U.S. Constitution. These are rights that
can never be taken away from you. Your rights are a little different depending on
whether you have been sentenced already or you are a pre-trial detainee. If you are
a pre-trial detainee, you are not supposed to be punished beyond what is necessary
to keep order in the facility. If you have been sentenced, your punishment must not
be cruel or unusual.

9

Obviously, the D.C. Jail and CTF have the right to limit some of your freedoms. If
you feel they go too far, you might have a constitutional claim.
You can bring your claim in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia (the
federal court) if there is a violation of a constitutional right or federal law. This is
called a 1983 action. 42 U.S.C. § 1983 is the law that allows you to sue the city and
city employees if they violate your constitutional rights. You can bring D.C. claims
at the same time as the federal claim as long as they are about the same incident as
the constitutional or federal law violation. You can bring any claim in the D.C.
Superior Court. See Chapter Four.
The First Amendment of the Constitution guarantees freedom of speech, religion,
and association (who you hang out with). A claim regarding religious practices,
mail, visitation, telephone use, and other communications may involve your First
Amendment rights.
The Fourth Amendment protects against illegal searches and seizures. In the jail
context, this could be unreasonably frequent or abusive searches or strip searches
routinely conducted by a person of the opposite sex.
The Fifth Amendment guarantees “due process of law.” This means you are
entitled to fair disciplinary hearings within the jail. If you are not yet sentenced, you
can use the Fifth Amendment to protest the conditions of the jail. If you have
already been sentenced, use the Eighth Amendment.
The Fifth Amendment also protects D.C. prisoners from discrimination. If you are
being discriminated against based on race, sex, ethnicity, mental illness, disability,
sexual orientation, or gender identity, you may have a claim.
The Sixth Amendment guarantees “assistance of counsel.” This includes access to
your lawyer and to a law library.
The Eighth Amendment protects against cruel and unusual punishment.
Unreasonable jail overcrowding, unclean or unsanitary conditions, poor medical
care, assault or failure to protect you from assault could all be Eighth Amendment
violations. If you are a pre-trial detainee, use the Fifth Amendment to protest jail
conditions.
Timing:

Constitutional claims in D.C. must be brought within
three years after they occur OR within three years after
you are released.

Defenses:

If a person was doing something as part of his job and did
not know he was breaking a law, he cannot be sued. This
is called “qualified immunity.” Luckily, you do not have
to prove that a person knew he was breaking a law. After

10

you file your Complaint, some of the defendants will
probably say that they have qualified immunity. The
judge will decide if that is true.
B. Federal Statutory Claims
1. Americans with Disabilities Act
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) protects people with disabilities
from discrimination. It also says that a person with a disability must be given
“reasonable accommodation.” An example of a reasonable accommodation
might be a handicap bathroom or a wheelchair ramp. If you are disabled, the jail
cannot discriminate against you. You must be given reasonable access to all jail
services and facilities.
Timing:

ADA claims in D.C. must be brought within three years
after they occur OR within three years after you are
released.

Defenses:

The defendants can say they tried to accommodate you. If
the court thinks that they really tried and did a good job,
the defendants have the defense of “good faith.” If it
would be too expensive or difficult to accommodate you,
the defendants have the defense of “undue hardship.”
For example, it is not an undue hardship to provide sign
language interpreters to hearing impaired prisoners at
disciplinary hearings. But it could be an undue hardship
to change a prison machine shop to allow a blind person
to work there.

2. Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons and Religious Freedom
Restoration Acts
The Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA) prohibits
jails and prisons from totally excluding religious assemblies or unreasonably
limiting religious assemblies. If you are not allowed to practice your faith, you
may have a claim under this act.
The Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) guarantees the right to exercise
your religion unless there is a compelling reason to not let you. If your religion
mandates certain dress or dietary restrictions, the D.C. jail or CTF must allow
you to practice your religion unless there is a good reason, like safety or huge
cost, to not let you.

11

Timing:

RLUIPA and RFRA claims in D.C. must be brought
within three years after they occur OR within three years
after you are released.

C. State (D.C.) Common Law Tort Claims
1. What is tort law?
Tort law is concerned with physical, emotional, and financial injuries to people.
A person who is injured may be able to recover damages (receive money as
compensation) from someone who is liable (legally responsible) for those
injuries. Tort law covers intentional injuries and accidents that result from
someone’s negligence.
2. Do I have a common law intentional tort claim?
Intentional injuries are covered under the category of intentional torts. Some
examples of intentional torts include assault, battery, and the intentional
infliction of emotional distress.
Assault
Explanation: Assault has different meanings in criminal law and civil law. In
civil (tort) law, “assault” means causing a reasonable fear of an
immediate harmful or offensive contact. No actual physical
contact is needed.
Courts have ruled that a person commits assault when he or she:
(1) acts intentionally
(2) to cause harmful or offensive contact with another person or
imminent apprehension of such a contact, and
(3) the other person is thereby put in such imminent
apprehension.
See McKinney v. Whitfield, 736 F.2d 766 (D.C. Cir. 1984);
Rogers v. Loews L’Enfant Plaza Hotel, 526 F. Supp. 523, 529
(D.D.C. 1981).
Example:

For example, if Dmitri grabs a knife and tries to stab Eric but
misses, Dmitri may still have committed the tort of assault. It
was probably reasonable for Eric to fear that Dmitri would cause
a harmful contact with the knife.

Timing:

Under D.C. Code, assault claims must be brought within one
year after they occur or one year after you are released. See D.C.
Code §§ 12-301, 12-302 and question (4) below.

12

Defenses:

The defendant might argue that you somehow consented to the
assault or that it was not reasonable for you to be apprehensive.
For example, the defendant might argue that you are unusually
sensitive. The defendant might argue that harm was not
imminent or immediate. For example, a mere threat (words) to
cause harm later is not assault. The defendant might admit that
he assaulted you, but argue that he was allowed to act in this
way—or that he was “privileged” to act in that way. For
example, if someone is acting in self defense, his assault is often
excused or “privileged.” Police officers are also privileged to
draw their guns, as long as their actions are not excessive. See
Jackson v. District of Columbia, 412 A.2d 948, 956 (D.C. 1980).

Battery
Explanation: Battery has different meanings in criminal law and civil law.
District of Columbia courts have simply stated that “battery is an
intentional act that causes harmful or offensive bodily contact.”
See Jackson v. District of Columbia, 412 A.2d 948, 955 (D.C.
1980).
Example:

For example, if Ronald punches, kicks, stabs or even poisons
Brad, Ronald may be held liable for battery.

Timing:

Like assault, claims for battery must be brought within one year
after they occur or after you are released. See D.C. Code § 12301 and question (4) below.

Defenses:

Same as assault (see above).

Intentional infliction of emotional distress
Explanation: You may have a claim of intentional infliction of emotional
distress when a person:
(1) intentionally or recklessly
(2) engages in extreme and outrageous conduct
(3) that causes the plaintiff (you) severe emotional distress
There are several important factors, however. Look at the facts of
what happened to you and see if these factors are present.
a. Type of behavior: must be “outrageous”
Insulting or obnoxious conduct or having your feelings hurt is
not enough. To have a claim, the behavior that you are
complaining about must be “beyond all possible bounds of

13

decency,” and “atrocious.” The behavior must cause most
people in society to be outraged when they hear about what
happened. See Drejza v. Vaccaro, 650 A.2d 1308 (D.C. 1994).
b. The relationship between the parties
If the defendant knows that the victim is especially susceptible
to emotional distress because of some physical or mental
condition or if the victim is vulnerable and was totally
dependant on the defendant for help, then the defendant’s
conduct might be considered more outrageous.
Examples:

A rape victim who is emotionally distraught depends on a police
officer to help her. Instead, the officer throws clothing at her and
teases her. This conduct might be outrageous enough to support a
claim of intentional infliction of emotional distress. See Drejza v.
Vaccaro, 650 A.2d 1308 (D.C. 1994).
An arrestee has a claim for intentional infliction of emotional
distress when a police officer holds him down with his knee in
his back, squeezes his necks and chokes him, then other officers
punches him up to twenty times and kicks him for up to thirty
minutes. See Brooks v. GK District of Columbia, No. 05-362,
2006 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 84118, at *9-10 (D.D.C. Nov. 20, 2006).

Timing:

You should file your Complaint within three years after your
emotional injury or after you are released. See D.C. Code § 12301(8) and question (4) below. If you suffer emotional harm as
the result of a physical injury (battery) however, you should
probably file your Complaint within one year.

Defenses:

A defendant might argue that you did not have a legal claim
because: the defendant did not act intentionally or recklessly, the
conduct was obnoxious but not outrageous, or you did not suffer
“severe” enough emotional distress. The defendant might suggest
that you are unusually sensitive and there was no reason why
he/she should have known this. The defendant might argue that
he has a right to say and do things that are hurtful but not
outrageous.

3. Do I have a common law negligence claim?
Negligence

14

Explanation: Negligence is a tort, but it is not an intentional tort. For example,
if Alice intentionally throws a ball at Ramona and hits Ramona,
Ramona has an assault and battery claim. However, if Alice is
playing a game and leaves the ball on the floor, then Ramona
later trips and falls on the ball—then Ramona might have a
negligence claim.
Negligence occurs when someone who has a “duty” (or a legal
responsibility) does not use enough care in fulfilling that duty.
As a result, someone else is harmed. To have a claim of
negligence, the plaintiff must allege five things in the Complaint:
(a) duty, (b) breach, (c) causation in fact, (d) proximate cause,
and (e) injury/damages.
Required Elements
a. Duty
The first step in a negligence claim is to show that the defendant
owed you a “duty” or had a legal responsibility to prevent your
injury.
The District of Columbia must use reasonable care to ensure
your safety and care and to provide you with medical care. The
District of Columbia has a legal duty to “be responsible for the
safekeeping, care, protection, instruction, and discipline of all
persons” in the D.C. Jail and other facilities mentioned by
statute. See D.C. Code § 24-211.02 (2008). The health care
professionals who treat you owe you the same standard of care as
physicians owe to private patients generally.
See Banks v. York, 515 F. Supp. 2d 89, 102 (D.D.C. 2007)
(mem.); Newby v. District of Columbia, 59 F. Supp. 2d 35, 37
(D.D.C. 1999).
The District of Columbia, however, may delegate (“give”) some
of its legal duties to someone else. For example, the District has
contracts with Corrections Corporation of America, Inc. (CCA)
and Unity Health Care, Inc. to provide services at the CTF. The
District of Columbia has delegated its duties, for common law
tort purposes, via contract to CCA and Unity Health Care. Thus,
CCA now owes inmates at CTF the duty of reasonable care in
the safekeeping, care, protection, instruction, and discipline of all
persons there. Unity Health Care owes residents of CTF a duty of
reasonable care in providing health care services.

15

b. Breach
A defendant breaches his duty, or legal responsibility, when he
does not fulfill that legal responsibility. However, defendants
cannot be responsible for every mistake. Instead, a defendant is
legally responsible only when he does not use “reasonable care.”
What is “reasonable care”? The answer depends on the
circumstances. For example, the care that is reasonable when a
person must act quickly might be different from the care that is
reasonable when a person has a lot of time to respond. You may
be required to have an expert to help the court and jury
understand what reasonable care is.
Res ipsa loquitor
If the breach of a legal duty is obvious, you might be able to use
the theory of res ipsa loquitor, a Latin phrase that means “the
thing speaks for itself.” This legal doctrine allows a jury or judge
to infer breach even if you have no direct evidence of breach. To
use res ipsa loquitor, you must establish that:
(1) the event that caused your injury ordinarily does not occur
unless someone is negligent
(2) your injury was caused by an agency or instrumentality
within the exclusive control of the defendant (so the cause of
your injury is known), and
(3) your injury was not caused by any voluntary action or
contribution on your part
See Cobell v. Norton, 355 F. Supp. 2d 531, 541 (D.D.C. 2005);
Hartford Cas. Ins. Co. v. Potomac Elec. Power Co., 927 F. Supp.
473, 477 (D.D.C. 1996).
c. Causation in fact
To have a negligence claim, you must show that the defendant’s
negligence caused your injury. This is usually simple. However,
if more than one person could have caused your injury or if your
actions helped cause your injury, your claim might be defeated.
See the defenses of assumption of risk and contributory
negligence (below).

16

d. Proximate cause
The defendant’s action is the “proximate” or legal cause of your
injury if it was reasonably foreseeable that his/her actions would
cause your injury.
The injury must be the “natural and probable consequence” of a
negligent act and should have been foreseen under the
circumstances. For example, prison officials failing to repair a
ventilation cover after an inmate complains that it is loose might
be the proximate cause of the inmate’s injuries when the cover
falls on him. See District of Columbia v. Mitchell, 533 A.2d 629
(D.C. 1987). Because the prison officials knew that the
ventilation cover was loose, they could have “foreseen” that the
cover might fall and injure someone.
Proximate cause becomes complex when more than one person
might have caused an injury. For example, if a guard leaves his
post and, when he does so, another inmate injures you, then a
question will arise about whether the guard’s actions or the other
inmate’s actions caused your injury. You can sue them both—or
name both of them as defendants in your Complaint.
e. Injury/damages
To have a negligence claim, you must have suffered some sort of
harm or loss of property.
You may request money damages to compensate you for your
injuries (compensatory damages) or money damages designed to
punish the defendant (punitive damages). Compensatory
damages may include, for example, reimbursement of past or
future medical expenses, lost future earnings, or pain and
suffering. Punitive damages, however, are difficult to obtain. For
punitive damages, you must prove that the defendant acted with
malice. “Malice” means that the defendant probably knew his
actions would cause harm or that he acted with spite or a bad
motive. You may not recover punitive damages against the
District of Columbia, unless you can find a specific law that
allows you to do so.
In addition to money damages, you may request an injunction.
An injunction is an order from the court that requires a person,
government entity, or corporation to stop doing something or to
start doing something. An injunction might be appropriate if you

17

are suffering an ongoing injury because of the defendant’s
continuing violations of the law.
See City of Newport v. Fact Concerts, Inc., 453 U.S. 247, 271
(1981); Feirson v. District of Columbia, 315 F. Supp. 2d 52, 57
(D.D.C. 2004).
Examples: Common negligence claims include:
Negligent hiring, training, and supervision of employees:
These cases involve improper conduct of employees. In cases of
abuse by guards, for example, the District of Columbia might be
negligent if it did not properly or adequately supervise guards
See Newby v. District of Columbia, 59 F. Supp. 2d 35 (D.D.C.
1999).
Negligent cell locking system, negligence in controlling inmate
movement:
These cases usually involve physical injuries by other inmates.
For example, these Complaints might allege that the government
or corporation managing the correctional facility was negligent
in selecting or using a cell locking system. As a result of that
negligence, another inmate left his cell and injured the plaintiff.
See District of Columbia v. Moreno, 647 A.2d 396 (D.C. 1994);
District of Columbia v. Sterling, 578 A.2d 1163 (D.C. 1990).
Medical malpractice:
Medical malpractice occurs when a medical professional does
not use reasonable care in diagnosing or treating a patient’s
injury or illness. If you did not receive care or proper care, you
might have a claim for medical malpractice.
See District of Columbia v. Wilson, 721 A.2d 591 (D.C. 1998);
Toy v. District of Columbia, 549 A.2d 1 (D.C. 1988).
Timing:

There is a three-year statute of limitations for negligence actions.
This means that you must file your Complaint with the court
within three years after the event that caused your injury or
within three years of your release. See D.C. Code 12-301(8).

Defenses:

A defendant will probably challenge one or more of the elements
that you must prove for negligence. Thus, a defendant will argue
that he/she had no duty, that he/she used reasonable care, that
something else caused your injury, or that you suffered no injury.
The defendant can also argue that you assumed the risk of injury

18

or that your own negligence “contributed” to your injury
(“contributory negligence”).
Assumption of risk
Assumption of risk is when you, the plaintiff, voluntarily expose
yourself to a danger that you know about. Because you
knowingly exposed yourself to danger, you do not have the right
to bring a lawsuit if an accident occurs.
See District of Columbia v. Coleman, 667 A.2d 811, 819 (D.C.
1995); District of Columbia v. Peters, 527 A.2d 1269, 1274 n.4
(D.C. 1987).
Contributory negligence
Contributory negligence means your injury is, in part, your own
fault. In other words, if the defendant proves that you were also
negligent and that your negligence contributed to your injury,
you will lose your case. The court will consider your
negligence—not the defendant’s—the proximate or legal cause
of your injury. See District of Columbia v. Coleman, 667 A.2d
811, 819 (D.C. 1995).
Examples of contributory negligence might include running
away from a law enforcement officer during an arrest, violating
statutes or regulations, or being under the influence of drugs or
alcohol. See Andrews v. Wilkins, 934 F.2d 1267, 1272 (D.C. Cir.
1991).
There are narrow exceptions that might allow you to win even if
you are contributorily negligent. These exceptions include if your
claims are based on certain statutes, the last clear chance
doctrine, or if you are contributorily negligent but can prove that
the defendant was even more than negligent—that the defendant
was willfully or wantonly negligent or acted in reckless
disregard.
Last clear chance doctrine:
To use the last clear chance doctrine, you should be able to show
that:
(1) the plaintiff was in a position of danger that both the plaintiff
and the defendant caused
(2) the plaintiff was unaware of the danger or unable to remove
himself from the danger
(3) the defendant was aware (or should have been) that the

19

plaintiff was in danger but could not remove himself from the
danger, and
(4) the defendant had the means and could have exercised
reasonable care to avoid the harm to the plaintiff but did not do
so.
See Andrews v. Wilkins, 934 F.2d 1267 (D.C. Cir. 1991).
An example of the last clear chance doctrine is when Jose does
not see a “wet floor-do not enter” sign and walks into the
cafeteria. Meanwhile, Ricky is running with a cart in the
cafeteria and sees Jose. The two collide and Jose is injured.
Ricky couldn’t stop in time. But he could have swerved or yelled
at Jose and prevented Jose’s injury. Thus, Jose was negligent by
entering the cafeteria after he saw the sign, but could claim that
Ricky had the “last clear chance” of preventing the accident. See
Washington Metro. Area Transit Auth. v. Jones, 443 A.2d 45, 4852 (D.C. 1982).
4. When should I bring my tort claim?
For assault and battery, file your Complaint within one year. For intentional
infliction of emotional distress and negligence, file your Complaint within three
years.
If the incident happened in D.C., the statute of limitations does not begin to run
until you are released from incarceration. In other words, the time limit you
have for filing a Complaint doesn’t start until you are no longer in any jail or
prison. Once the statute of limitations begins to run, it does not stop if you are
re-incarcerated. See D.C. Code § 12-302 (tolling statute of limitations until
plaintiff is no longer incarcerated).
For example, Bill is at the D.C. Jail and is assaulted in January 2008. He is later
transferred to a prison. Bill is released from prison and goes home in January
2012. Bill has until January 2013 to file his Complaint for assault.
However, you may still want to file your claim while you are incarcerated. The
longer you wait, the harder it may be to find witnesses who remember what
happened. Finally, if the incident happened outside of D.C., the statute of
limitations will be determined by the laws where the events took place.
5. Are there any special procedures I need to follow to bring a tort claim?
Yes. These requirements are very important. If you do not follow them, your
claim will be dismissed—the court will not even decide the issues in your case.

20

a. Tort claims against the District of Columbia: Notice
If you are bringing a tort action against the District of Columbia or bringing
a claim that the District of Columbia must respond to (for example, when
you sue a D.C. employee) you must provide notice in writing to the Mayor
of the District of Columbia, in care of the Office of Risk Management. The
Office of Risk Management must receive this notice within six months of
the injury, damage, or property loss. This six-month time limit starts from
the day that you were injured or suffered a loss. It is not tolled (temporarily
stopped) while you are incarcerated. See D.C. Code § 12-309.
This notice must mention the following:
○ your name, your current address, your home address, your DCDC
number, and your Social Security number,
○ the date and time of your injury or loss of property,
○ the exact place where you were injured ,
○ the cause of the injury or loss of property,
○ why the District of Columbia is responsible and should pay the
damages you are asking for.
You should also include copies of any related documents such as grievance
forms, medical records, bills, or letters.
According to Mayor’s Order 2004-10, you should send this notice to the
Office of Risk Management—not directly to the mayor himself. Send your
notice to:
District of Columbia Office of Risk Management
441 4th Street N.W.
Suite 800 South
Washington, D.C. 20001
Attention: Claims Bureau
Courts interpret this requirement very strictly. Make sure you follow the
instructions and meet the deadline. In about thirty days, you should receive
an acknowledgement letter that lists a claim number and the name of the
investigator assigned to your claim. If you need to check the status of your
claim, contact the Office of Risk Management and give them your claim
number and the name of the investigator.
b. Medical malpractice claims: Notice
If you intend to bring a medical malpractice claim (a type of negligence
claim specifically about medical care), you must provide notice to the

21

healthcare provider you intend to name as the defendant at least 90 days
before you file your Complaint.
The notice should include “sufficient information to put the defendant on
notice of the legal basis of the claim and the type and extent of the loss
sustained, including information regarding the injuries suffered.” See
Medical Malpractice Proceedings Act of 2006 § 16-2802.
You should send this notice, or letter describing your legal claim and
injuries, to every medical provider that you intend to name as a defendant. If
you do not know the person’s address, you can use the address that is
registered with the appropriate medical licensing authority. If you do not
know the defendant’s name or if the defendant was not licensed when the
event occurred or when notice is to be given, you do not need to provide this
notice. See Medical Malpractice Proceedings Act of 2006 § 16-2804. The
address for Unity Health Care, Inc. is:
Unity Health Care, Inc.
1220 12th Street, S.E.
Suite 120
Washington, D.C. 20003

22

Chapter Four: Which Court Should I Use?
It is important to bring your case in the proper court. If you file your case in the
wrong court, it may be dismissed.2 In some circumstances, filing your lawsuit in the
wrong court may prevent you from filing the lawsuit in the proper court. At the very
least, filing your case in the wrong court will cause you delay.
For events or injuries that happen at the D.C. Jail or Correctional Treatment Facility
(CTF), you may be able file your lawsuit in the United States District Court for the
District of Columbia (federal court) or Superior Court of the District of Columbia
(D.C. court).
Which court you choose depends on the claims you want to bring and people you
want to sue.

A. U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia
This is the federal court. There are two ways you can file in federal court.
1. Constitutional or Federal Statutory Claim
You can file your lawsuit in U.S. District Court if you have a constitutional
or federal law claim. See Chapter 3. It is okay to have D.C. claims also, but
they must be about the same incident as the federal claim.
For example, if you are constantly being assaulted by a guard and the other
guards will not do anything about it that could be a violation of D.C. assault
and negligence laws. But it could also be a violation of your Eighth
Amendment right against cruel and unusual punishment. If you put both
those things in your Complaint, you can bring your claim in U.S. District
Court.
2. Prison Litigation Reform Act
If you are filing in U.S. District Court, you must follow the Prison Litigation
Reform Act. The PLRA has three important parts.
a. Exhaustion
Before you can file a lawsuit in federal court, you must “exhaust your
administrative remedies.” This means you have to file a grievance and
appeal it all the way to the final level. You must do this for each claim
against each defendant. There are very few exceptions to the exhaustion
2

If your Complaint is dismissed “with prejudice” it means that you may not bring the same claims
against those defendants again. If your Complaint is dismissed and the order does not say “with
prejudice” then you may correct any mistakes and file your Complaint again.

23

requirement. But if administrative remedies are “not available,” you can
file your case.
b. Fees / Three strikes
In forma pauperis is a legal term for “as a poor person.” If you file a
lawsuit in forma pauperis, it means you do not have enough money to
pay the filing fee and other court costs. In D.C. Superior Court, people
who do not have enough money to pay the filing fee can file a lawsuit
without paying any money. In U.S. District Court, even poor people
must pay. Prisoners can pay in installments from their jail commissary
account. The filing fee is $350.00.
In District Court, if you file three lawsuits that are dismissed for not
stating a proper claim, you can only file another lawsuit if you pay the
$350.00 up front. The only exception is if you are in “imminent danger.”
It does not count if you were in imminent danger, you must still be in
imminent danger when you file the lawsuit.
c. Physical Injury
You cannot get money damages for a mental or emotional injury unless
you ALSO have a physical injury. For mental or emotional injuries
alone, you can get an injunction. An injunction is an order from the court
ordering the Defendants to stop the mental or emotional abuse. Different
courts have different ideas about what a physical injury is. Try to be as
specific as possible about your injury so that court has every opportunity
to consider your injury sufficient.

B. Superior Court of the District of Columbia—Civil Division
If you have claims that arise under federal statutory or constitutional law, you may
file your Complaint in the Superior Court of D.C. OR you may file your Complaint
in U.S. District Court.
If you have claims that arise under federal statutory or constitutional law AND D.C.
law, you may file your Complaint in the Superior Court of D.C. OR you may file
your Complaint in U.S. District Court.

If you have claims that arise only under D.C. law (for example, D.C. tort law) and
you have no constitutional or federal statutory claims, then you must file your
Complaint in the Superior Court of D.C.—not in federal court (U.S. District Court).

24

1. Civil Actions Branch
You can file any claim in the Superior Court for the District of Columbia,
including D.C., federal, and constitutional claims. However, you must ask
for more than $5,000 in damages in your Complaint.
2. Small Claims and Conciliation Branch
If you are seeking $5,000 or less in damages, you must file your claims in
the Small Claims Branch of the Superior Court. The Small Claims Branch
requires you to personally appear and participate in your case. Even if you
have a lawyer, you must still appear and participate. For this reason, you
should avoid the Small Claims Branch unless you are going to be released
very soon. You can avoid the Small Claims Branch by writing in your
Complaint that you seeking more than $5,000 in damages.

For more help figuring out where to file your Complaint, see the table below and
the flowcharts in Appendix B.

Examples of Where You Can File Your Complaint
If you have legal claims of . . .

seeking . . .

then . . .

common law assault ONLY

damages of $5,000 or more

you must file in the Superior Court of
D.C.
you must file in the Superior Court of
D.C. Small Claims Branch

damages of less than $5,000

common law assault AND federal
statutory or constitutional issues

damages of $5,000 or more

federal statutory and constitutional
issues ONLY

damages of $5,000 or more

25

you may file in D.C. Superior Court. OR
you may file in the U.S. District Court, IF
the assault claim arises out of the same
factual circumstances as your federal law
(constitutional) claims.
you may file in D.C. Superior Court OR
you may file in the U.S. District Court.

Chapter Five: Who Should I Sue?
Who you will sue—or name as defendants—will depend on a variety of factors,
such as the facility where your issue arose, your legal claims, the court that you
want to file your Complaint, and the damages that you are seeking. In general, sue
everyone you think was responsible for your injury and can provide you with the
relief you want. As you select the individuals and entities to name as defendants,
keep in mind that you will have to provide each of them a copy of your Complaint
and a summons (this process is described in Chapter Nine).
There are a few entities that you should not name as defendants. Do not name the
D.C. Department of Corrections as a defendant; instead, name the District of
Columbia. Do not name the D.C. Jail, Central Detention Facility or Central
Treatment Facility as defendants—these are all buildings. Instead, name the entities
(District of Columbia or CCA and Unity Health Care, Inc.) that manage or provide
services at your facility.

A. Your Facility
1. D.C. Jail or Central Detention Facility
The D.C. Jail (also known as the Central Detention Facility) is located at
1901 D Street S.E., Washington, D.C. 20003. The phone number is (202)
673-8136.
The D.C. Jail is operated by the District of Columbia Department of
Corrections (DOC). The Department of Corrections cannot be sued
separately from the District of Columbia. If you sue the District of
Columbia, you must provide notice before you file a tort suit. Reread page
21 of this guide.
2. Correctional Treatment Facility (CTF)
The CTF is located at 1901 E Street S.E., Washington, D.C. 20003. The
phone number is (202) 547-7822.
The District of Columbia Department of Corrections (DOC) has a contract
with the Corrections Corporation of America, Inc. (CCA) to operate this
facility. CCA provides all services at CTF, except for health care. CCA is a
private, for-profit corporation. CCA is incorporated in Tennessee and its
headquarters are located at 10 Burton Hills Boulevard, Nashville, Tennessee
37215. The phone number is (615) 263-3000 or (800) 624-2931.

26

The District of Columbia has a contract with Unity Health Care, Inc. to
provide medical care at CTF and the D.C. Jail. Unity Health Care, Inc. is a
non-profit corporation incorporated in D.C. with administrative offices
located at 1120 12th Street SE, Suite 120, Washington, D.C. 20003. The
phone number is (202) 715-7900.

B. Your Legal Claims
The legal claims that you bring will help determine both who you name as
defendants and in which court you file your lawsuit. This section gives you
information about how your legal claims affect who you may name as a defendant.
1. Constitutional Violations – “personally involved”
For constitutional violations, you must prove that every defendant was
“personally involved” in your injury.
If an employee commits a constitutional violation, the employer is not
automatically responsible. You can still sue the employer, but you have to
explain how it was “personally involved.” For example, you could say the
city had a bad policy or that the warden allowed the guards to misbehave
even if he was not there when you got hurt.
Some officials have protection from lawsuits. This is called immunity. The
court will decide if a defendant has immunity.
Absolute immunity: Judges, prosecutors, and people who make laws cannot
be sued for anything they do as part of their job.
Qualified immunity: This only applies to government employees like people
who work for the D.C. government. It does not apply to CTF or Unity
employees. If a person was doing something as part of his job and did not
know he was breaking a law, he cannot be sued. Luckily, you do not have to
prove that a person knew he was breaking a law. After you file your
Complaint, some of the defendants will probably say that they have
qualified immunity. The judge will decide if that is true.
Private companies provide your healthcare, food, and other services. If you
feel they are responsible, you may want to consider suing those companies
as well.

27

2. Common Law (D.C.) Tort Claims
a. Employees as Defendants and Respondeat Superior
You should name the employee directly responsible for your injury as a
defendant, as well as his/her employer. Because of the legal doctrine of
“respondeat superior,” an employer may be liable for the tortious acts of
employees while they are acting within the scope of their employment. You
only need to prove that the employee committed the tort and then the
employer is automatically responsible.
Note: If you sue a D.C. employee in his official capacity for a common law
tort claim, the District of Columbia might be held liable. So, you must
provide notice that is received by the D.C. Office of Risk Management
within six months of your injury. If you do not, your claim will be
dismissed—you will lose.
b. Employers as Defendants
As mentioned above, when an employee causes you harm, you should also
name the employer as a defendant. However, you can also name an
employer as a defendant in an additional claim for negligence.
To use the same example as above, if you are at CTF and a guard causes
your injury, you may also claim that the guard’s misconduct was due to the
negligence of CCA in hiring, training, or supervising their employees. Here,
you are claiming that CCA is at fault for not using reasonable care in
fulfilling their legal responsibilities (their “duties”). Similarly, if a health
care worker is negligent in diagnosing or treating your injury or illness and
you think this is because Unity Health Care does not properly hire, train, or
supervise their employees, you may bring a negligence claim against Unity
Health Care and name Unity Health Care as a defendant.
c. The District of Columbia as a Defendant
In general, you should name the District of Columbia as a defendant
whenever the District may have to ultimately pay for the damages you are
seeking.
If you are in the D.C. Jail, the District of Columbia will likely have to pay
for any damages you are awarded. For example, if you name an employee of
the District of Columbia (such as a guard) as a defendant, the District of
Columbia will likely be liable for any damages.
If you are in the CTF, whether or not the District of Columbia will
ultimately have to pay for the damages you are seeking can be complicated

28

and will depend in part on the contracts between CCA and the District of
Columbia and Unity Health Care, Inc. and the District of Columbia.
Currently, the CCA must indemnify, or cover and pay for the liability of, the
District of Columbia.
However, the District of Columbia has a duty to provide prisoners with
reasonable care. If the District delegates this duty to a private contractor, the
District must use reasonable care in selecting and supervising the entities
that it contracts with, such as CCA and Unity Health Care. If in doubt, you
should name the District of Columbia as a defendant—in addition to other
defendants.
Don’t forget to provide notice within six months: If you are bringing
common law tort claims that the District of Columbia will ultimately have
to pay, you must send the Office of Risk Management a notice of your
injury or loss, received by them no more than six months after the injury
happened (see the section on tort claims for more information).

29

Chapter Six: How Do I Write a Complaint?
1. What is a Complaint?
A Complaint is a legal document that you write and give to the court and defendants
to begin a lawsuit. Your Complaint should state what wrong has been done, what
remedy you want, and explain why the court should rule in your favor.
Note: Because a Complaint is the name of a specific legal document, this handbook
always uses a capital “C” when referring to the legal document.
Your Complaint must state a legal claim and contain enough information so that the
court and the defendants know what the lawsuit is about. Complaints are often
dismissed for “failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.” This
means that even though something bad might have happened and you might have
the right to money damages, your Complaint did not clearly state a legal claim.
Make sure you tell the court what law was broken and how.
2. Should I pay a writ writer or someone to help me write a Complaint?
You might be able to get some help from fellow inmates. Most prisons have people
who are known for helping other inmates write Complaints and respond to motions.
These people, sometimes called “writ writers,” or “legal assistants,” typically have
no formal legal training. However, because they have experience, they can be
helpful in formatting the Complaint and helping you understand the filing
requirements or legal terms.
However, be careful of inmates or others who encourage you to file a lawsuit or ask
you to pay them money to file a lawsuit on your behalf. There are individuals who
have collected thousands of dollars from others for filing losing lawsuits. Also
beware of an outside agency or firm that asks you to pay money to get a “pro se”
Complaint that you can then file yourself. The agency or firm is probably practicing
law without a license and trying to sell something that is not worth your money or
time.
3. Can I draft a Complaint on my own?
Writing a Complaint is not especially difficult, especially if you use a form.
However, you must pay close attention to detail. A Complaint should be formatted
in a specific way, contain specific information, and be submitted in a specific way.
If you file a Complaint that is not accepted for filing, the court will usually return it
to you and you may file again after you correct any mistakes. To avoid delay, plan
your Complaint carefully before you file it.

30

4. How exactly do I prepare a Complaint?
Because some types of Complaints are common, there are pre-printed forms that
you can use. For examples, see the Appendices. In addition to using a form
Complaint, you may also create one of your own. This section assumes that you are
writing one from scratch, but it applies equally to forms. Where the requirements
for a Complaint filed in the Superior Court of D.C. and the U.S. District Court for
D.C. are different, this section points out those differences.
a. Type or write neatly: If you cannot type, the Complaint can be handwritten.
Write as neatly as possible. It must be written on white paper that is 8 ½ by
11 inches. Double space and write on only one side of the paper.
b. Number every paragraph: You should number every paragraph in your
Complaint.
c. Organize your Complaint: There are a number of examples and Complaint
forms in the Appendices to this handbook that you should consider in
drafting your Complaint. Whether you are using a form or are preparing
your Complaint from scratch, be sure to include the following six things:
1.) a caption,
2.) a statement about jurisdiction and venue,
3.) a statement of facts,
4.) a list of claims,
5.) a “prayer for relief,” and
6.) your signature.
Each of these parts of a Complaint is described more fully below.
1. Caption
Every paper sent to a court for filing should include a caption on the
very first page. A caption does three things: it identifies the court, the
parties and the paper being filed.
a. Identify the court:
U.S. District Court
If you are filing a Complaint in federal court, type or write across
the top of the first page:
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA
Superior Court of D.C.

31

If you are filing a Complaint in the Superior Court of the District
of Columbia, type or write across the top of the first page:
IN THE SUPERIOR COURT OF THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA
CIVIL DIVISION
b. Identify the case: Below the name of the court, draw a line down
the middle of the page. Look in the Appendices for examples. On the
right-hand side of the page, about one-third of the way down, draw a
horizontal line for the case number.
Then put your name, address, and phone number, followed by
“Plaintiff” and a “v.” (for “versus”). Under the “v.”, write the names
of all of the defendants you are suing, along with their correct
addresses and phone numbers. Later, when you file other documents
with the court about your case, you only have to list the first plaintiff
and the first defendant.
U.S. District Court
Write or type:
No. __:____-CV-___(_)
Superior Court of D.C.
Draw four horizontal lines and write or type:
Civil Action No.
Calendar No.
Judge
Next Event:
The court will fill in the case number, but when you file later
documents about your case, you should write the case number.
c. Identify the document as a Complaint: Write or type the word
“COMPLAINT” in all capital letters below the names of the parties.
2. Statement of Jurisdiction and Venue
This must be near the beginning of the Complaint because the judge will
want to know why you are filing your Complaint in his or her court.
a. Jurisdiction
U.S. District Court
In order for a federal court to have jurisdiction over your claims,
you must show that your claims arise from a “federal question.”

32

A federal question is either a constitutional claim or a federal law
claim. If you have a federal question, cite to 28 U.S.C. § 1331 as
the basis for the court’s jurisdiction.
Superior Court of D.C.
D.C. courts have jurisdiction over cases arising within the
District of Columbia and involving its laws. The Superior Court
of D.C. has jurisdiction over people served a copy of your
Complaint if you follow the relevant statutes and the Superior
Court Rules of Procedure. See D.C. Code Ann. § 11-921 (2008);
D.C. Super. Ct. Civ. R. 4.
The Superior Court of D.C.-Civil Division consists of several
“branches.” If you are seeking damages of $5,000 or less, the
Small Claims and Conciliation Branch will have jurisdiction and
you should file your Complaint there. If you are seeking more
than $5,000, the Civil Actions Branch will have jurisdiction and
you should file your Complaint there (see Chapter Eight).
Finally, if you are suing a defendant who is a resident of another
state, such as CCA, you might want to mention in your
Complaint that the person or corporation conducts significant
business within D.C., has sufficient “minimum contacts” with
D.C., and that the defendant’s acts or omissions caused harm to
you in D.C. See D.C. Long Arm Statute, D.C. Code Ann. 13-423
(2008) and D.C. Code Ann. 13-334 (2008) (service to foreign
corporations).
b. Venue
Venue is the geographic location in which you can properly file
your Complaint and bring your lawsuit.
U.S. District Court
In general, federal venue is in any federal district where one of
the defendants lives or where the claims arose. Thus, for claims
you will bring arising from your stay at the D.C. Jail or CTF,
venue is generally proper in the U.S. District for the District of
Columbia.

33

Superior Court of D.C.
If you are filing a Complaint in D.C. Superior Court, you may
just write that the court has jurisdiction and venue based on D.C.
Code Ann. 11-921 (2008) and D.C. Code Ann. 13-423 (2008).
3. Statement of Facts
A short, clear statement of facts is the most important part of your
Complaint. You do not need to provide pages of legal analysis in your
Complaint. Take your time in drafting the statement of facts, and try to
make it complete and persuasive. Use plain English to explain what
happened to you, describing key events in detail. Be sure to include facts
about how you were harmed by the defendant’s actions.
Keep these general rules in mind:
•

State facts that you believe are true: State facts—not hunches. If
you just say that you have a “hunch” that the defendants conspired to
injure you, your Complaint will be weak. You need to provide some
facts so that the court knows you have a legal claim. When you file a
document with the court, you are certifying that what you write is
true or that you have good, objective reasons to believe that it is true.

•

Be brief: Include the important facts in your statement of facts. You
do not need to mention every detail, though—only the facts that help
establish your legal claim.

•

Avoid bad facts: There are two sides to every story. In your
Complaint, you should tell yours. You should not mention your own
misconduct. You should not mention possible excuses or
justifications that the defendants might have. The defendants will put
forth their own arguments—you do not need to do it for them.
However, if bad facts are necessary for a complete picture of your
claims, it may be better for you to state them in the beginning than to
wait for the defendant to tell the court about them later.

4. List Your Claim(s)
This is the legal part of your Complaint. First, identify the claims that fit
the facts of your case. Make sure you allege every claim that you think
may reasonably apply to your case. If you do not bring all of your claims
in the same case, you might lose the right to later bring the claims that
you did not raise.
Set out each claim in a separate section that is titled with the claim.

34

Make sure you give enough information to show that you have a legal
claim (see Chapter Three). If you are referring to the same information
for multiple claims, each section can repeat the facts that support that
specific claim. Or you may “reallege” or “incorporate by reference” the
information from the Statement of Facts.
5. State the Relief You Are Seeking
Your Complaint should have a section titled “Relief” or “Prayer for
Relief.” In it, include all of the things you want the court to do.
Possibilities include:
• Damages. You may seek money to compensate you for your loss
(compensatory damages). In certain circumstances, you can
request money as a punishment for the defendant’s actions
(punitive damages). In general, you do not have to say how much
money you want.
However, if the court’s jurisdiction depends on a minimum or
maximum amount, you must request damages of at least that
amount. Even then, you can request damages “in excess of
$5,000” (to file your Complaint in the Civil Actions Branch of
D.C. Superior Court) or “in excess of $75,000” (to file a
Complaint with claims arising only under D.C. law in U.S.
District Court).
U.S. District Court for D.C.: “in excess of $75,000”
D.C. Superior Court, Civil Actions Branch: “in excess of $5,000”
•

Equitable Relief. The Court can provide equitable relief such as
an injunction. When a court issues an injunction, it orders the
defendants to take certain actions or not to take certain actions. If
you ask for an injunction, make sure the defendant can actually
take the action or make the changes that you are seeking. For
example, a guard cannot change a policy, but the District of
Columbia or CCA can. So, do not request an injunction ordering
a guard to change a policy; instead, you may request an
injunction ordering the District of Columbia or CCA to change a
policy.

•

A Catch-All Phrase. Consider asking for “such other and further
relief the Court deems justified.” If you include this catch-all
phrase, the court can then give you a remedy that satisfies your
concerns but that you did not think to ask for.

35

6. Request for a Jury Trial
If you want a jury if you go to trial, ask for that right in the Complaint. If
you do not, you may not be able to get a jury later.
7. Signature
Unless you are represented by an attorney, you must sign your own
Complaint. Be sure that at least one of the Complaints that you mail to
the court includes your original signature (not a photocopy of your
signature). Signing in blue ink helps the court recognize an original
signature.
8. Attachments
You are not required to attach documents to your Complaint, but may do
so if you like.3

3

Using Written Statements: To be of use in court, a written statement must (1) be made on personal
knowledge, (2) set forth such facts as would be admissible in evidence, and (3) show that the person
making the statement is competent to testify to the matters stated in the affidavit. Under 28 U.S.C.
Section 1746, many of the purposes for which a notary public is required to formalize a written
document can be equally satisfied for use in a federal court by a “declaration.” However, the
declaration must contain the following phrase: “I declare under penalty of perjury that the foregoing
is true and correct.” Then the person should sign the declaration, date it, and provide his permanent
address. If a person does not have a permanent address, he may list the permanent address of a
spouse or family member. Providing other information, such as the person’s prison I.D. number,
Social Security number, and/or a date of birth can be helpful

36

Chapter Seven: How Do I File a Complaint in the
U.S. District Court of the District of Columbia?
Remember from Chapter Four that the U.S. District Court is a federal court. You
can only bring some lawsuits in this court. If you file in this court, you have to pay
$350. You also have to follow the Prison Litigation Reform Act rules.
A. Filing Fee
Unlike in D.C. Superior Court, in U.S. District Court, you always have to pay to
file a Complaint. You can pay the fee in installments if you file in forma
pauperis (IFP). This is a legal term that means “as a poor person.” You must
fill out the Application to Proceed without Prepayment of Fees and Affidavit
form. A copy of this form is included in Appendix D. Every time your jail
commissary account balance is more than $10, you must send a payment to the
court until the entire $350.00 is paid.
If you want to file your Complaint IFP you will need to submit to the court:
(1) A completed and signed form to request to proceed IFP. (A copy of this
form is included in Appendix D).
(2) A certified copy of your inmate trust fund account with your income and
average balance over the past six months. You can get a copy of this
account from the Finance Office.
(3) A completed and signed authorization form that permits the jail or CTF
to withdraw up to $350 from your account.
B. Addresses
You must give the full address for you and every defendant or your suit could
be thrown out. If you are suing someone in his official capacity, use his work
address. D.D.C. LCvR 11.1.
C. Filling out Forms
You must always use a Civil Cover Sheet, Form JS-44. See Appendix D. This is
just a form to help the court understand what kind of lawsuit you are filing.
If your claim is for a constitutional violation, it is really easy to file a claim in
U.S. District Court. Just fill out the Complaint for Violation of Civil Rights
form in Appendix D. You MUST use this form for all constitutional claims.
Make sure to write neatly. Sign in ink. Keep a copy and send the original and
another copy to the court.
If you have another federal law claim or state claims that arise from the same
incident, follow the instructions in Chapter Six on how to write a complaint.
There are sample and form Complaints in the Appendix to help you.

37

Mail your original Complaint and a copy to this address:
U.S. District Court Clerk’s Office
333 Constitution Avenue, N.W.
Room 1225
Washington, D.C. 20001
D. Getting a Lawyer
Unlike criminal court, you do not have a right to a lawyer in a civil lawsuit.
However, if you are proceeding pro se and the court has granted your Motion to
Proceed In Forma Pauperis, the judge may appoint you a lawyer. The judge
may decide to appoint you a lawyer on his own or you can request a lawyer
using a Motion for Appointment for Counsel. See Appendix D.
Having a lawyer greatly increases your chances of winning and, if you are
appointed a lawyer, he/she will represent you for free. The judge will make his
or her decision based in part on how good your case is. So it is very important to
write a good Complaint. However, if you are appointed an attorney, and that
attorney does not think you have a legal claim, he or she does not have to
continue to represent you. He or she will be your attorney only for this lawsuit
and not for any other criminal or legal matter you might be involved in. D.D.C.
LCvR 83.11.

38

Chapter Eight: How Do I File a Complaint in the
Superior Court of the District of Columbia?
The general framework for preparing a Complaint, described in Chapter Six, applies
to lawsuits filed in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia. For an example
of what a Complaint filed in the Superior Court of D.C. should look like, see the
sample in Appendix E. This section will provide you with some additional
information about filing a Complaint in the Superior Court of D.C.
1. Choose the Civil Actions Branch or Small Claims Branch
The branch in which you file your Complaint will depend on how much you are
seeking in damages.
•

Small Claims and Conciliation Branch

The Small Claims and Conciliation Branch decides disputes where the
plaintiff is seeking $5,000 or less in damages. Because you must participate
in your case if you file your Complaint in the Small Claims and Conciliation
Branch, do not file your Complaint here unless you will be released soon.
•

Civil Actions Branch

If you are seeking more than $5,000 in damages, then the Civil Actions
Branch has jurisdiction over the claim. File your Complaint here.

2. Pay the filing fees
The fees for filing a Complaint, having your claim heard by a jury, and filing a
motion in the Superior Court of D.C. vary depending on the branch in which
you file your Complaint.
•

Small Claims and Conciliation Branch (seeking up to $5,000)
Filing a Complaint
Seeking $500 or less
$5.00
Seeking $501-$2,500
$10.00
Seeking $2,501-$5,000
$45.00
Jury Demand
$75.00
Filing a Motion
$10.00

•

Civil Actions Branch (seeking more than $5,000)
Filing a Complaint
Jury Demand
Filing a Motion
Additional summons
39

$120.00
--------$20.00
$10.00

Filing Fees change often so check with clerk of the court before filing your
Complaint. Fees are payable by cash, money order, or cashier’s check made
payable to: Clerk, D.C. Superior Court.
•

If You Cannot Pay the Filing Fee or Motions fees: File a Motion to
Proceed in Forma Pauperis

If you cannot pay the fee to file your Complaint, you may file a motion to
proceed in forma pauperis. This form is included in Appendix F of this
handbook. If the court grants this motion, you will not have to pay any court
costs.
To file this motion, you should (1) fill out the form motion to proceed in
forma pauperis in Appendix F of this handbook, (2) attach an affidavit
describing your financial circumstances (also in Appendix F of this
handbook), and (3) attach a print-out of your jail account.
3. Gather the required documents together with your Complaint
In order to begin your lawsuit, you should file together at the same time:
1. a completed information sheet
This form is provided in Appendix F. Fill out your name, check the “Self
(pro se)” box, and check the box if you want a jury trial. Write the amount
of damages you are requesting. Then check one box to indicate which type
of lawsuit you are bringing. Most often, you will be bringing a property tort
or personal tort.
2. your Complaint
Make sure you have the correct number of copies of your Complaint and
include one with your original signature.
3. the filing fee OR a motion to proceed in forma pauperis
If you are filing a motion to proceed in forma pauperis, make sure you send
the completed form and attach the affidavit and a print-out of your jail
account. The motion and affidavit forms are included in Appendix F.
4. for each defendant, an original summons and two copies of the summons
The summons form is provided in Appendix F. A summons is an order from
the court for the defendant to answer your Complaint and appear in court
when notified to do so.
40

4. Mail your Complaint and the other documents
Mail your Complaint, together with the documents listed above, to:
Clerk, Superior Court—Civil Division
Moultrie Courthouse
500 Indiana Avenue N.W.
Room JM-170
Washington, D.C. 20001
Phone: (202) 879-1133

If your claim is for $5,000 or less, you should follow similar procedures, but
must file your Complaint in the Small Claims Branch. You must be present and
participate in your trial if you file your Complaint in Small Claims Branch, so
do not file your Complaint here unless you will be released soon. For more
information, check the rules of the Small Claims and Conciliation Branch. Send
your documents to:
Clerk, Superior Court—Small Claims Branch
510 4th Street N.W.
Room 120
Washington, D.C. 20001
Phone: (202) 879-1120

41

Chapter Nine: How Do I Serve the Defendant(s) with My
Complaint?
Filing your Complaint with the court is only the first step. The defendants you have
named in your lawsuit must also receive “service of process”—the term for
officially notifying the defendants that they have been sued by providing each of
them a copy of the Complaint and a summons.
1. If the court grants your motion to proceed in forma pauperis, you do
not need to serve the defendants.
U.S. District Court
If you filed your Complaint in federal court and have been allowed to
proceed in forma pauperis, the court is responsible for seeing that all
defendants receive service of process. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 4(c)(2).
Superior Court of D.C.
If you filed your Complaint in the Superior Court of the District of
Columbia and the court granted your motion to proceed in forma
pauperis, then the court will see that all defendants receive service of
process (a copy of your Complaint and a summons).
2. If the court does NOT grant your motion to proceed in forma
pauperis, you must serve the defendants.
The rules for service of process must be followed carefully. The Federal
Rules of Civil Procedure and the D.C. rules governing service of process are
roughly the same. This section summarizes some of the more important features
of these rules, but you should review the relevant rules themselves before
attempting to serve the defendants. Read Fed. R. Civ. P. 4 and D.C. Super. Ct.
Civ. R. 4.
a. Complete the summons form
Generally, service of process requires sending a copy of the Complaint and a
summons to each defendant. A “summons” is a formal document that is
signed by the clerk of the court.
You must use the proper summons form for the court in which you file your
Complaint. A copy of the federal summons form and the D.C. summons
forms are included in the Appendices. Complete the portions of the
summons form that you can (i.e., caption of Complaint, name and address of

42

the defendant to be served with the summons). Then copy the summons
form the appropriate number of times for the court in which you are filing.
Send the summons and the copies of summons to the clerk’s office with
your Complaint. These forms are not effective until signed by the clerk of
the court and you receive acknowledgement.
b. Serve individuals, corporations, and governments
Being incarcerated limits your ability to serve the defendants, but it is not
impossible. Generally, service can be made personally or by certified or
registered mail, return receipt requested. It is important to have a record that
you completed service to show the court.
Personal service (handing a copy of the summons and Complaint to each
defendant) can be made by any person, such as a friend, who is eighteen
years of age or older, or you can hire a process server. A list of process
servers is included in Appendix H.4
Serve the summons and Complaint at the address listed in your Complaint
for each defendant. For individuals, you should list their home or work
address. There are special rules, however, for serving corporations and
government agencies.
Corporations
Corporations receive service of process via the corporation’s “registered
agent for service of process” or a corporate officer or managing or general
agent. You may find out who the “registered agent” is by contacting the
Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs, Corporation Division, 941
N. Capitol St., First Floor, Washington, D.C. 20001, phone (202) 442-4430.
For both Unity Health Care, Inc. and the Corrections Corporation of
American, Inc., the current registered agent for service of process to whom
you can serve your summonses and Complaint is:
CT Corporation System
1015 15th Street N.W.
Ste. 1000
Washington, D.C. 20005

4

D.C. Prisoners’ Project has no information as to the quality of these process servers. We provide
this list simply as a service to you.

43

District of Columbia & Mayor of the District of Columbia
For the District of Columbia and the Mayor of the District of Columbia, you
must deliver the summons and Complaint to registered agents.
Currently, if you name the District of Columbia as a defendant, service of
process must be made upon two different agents—the agent for the Mayor
and the agent for the Attorney General of D.C. The registered agents
currently are:
For the Mayor (The Hon. Adrian Fenty)
Tabitha Braxton, Abby Frankson, Erica Easter, or Arlethia
Thompson
Office of the Secretary
John A. Wilson Building
1350 Pennsylvania Avenue N.W.
Suite 419
Washington, D.C. 20004

For the Attorney General for the District of Columbia
Darlene Fields, Tonia Robinson, or Gale Rivers
Office of the Attorney General for the District of Columbia
441 4th Street N.W.
Room 600-South
Washington, D.C. 20001
Phone: (202) 671-2042
c. Serve the defendants before the deadlines
In federal court you have 120 days from the date the Complaint is filed in
which to serve all of the defendants. Fed. R. Civ. P. 4(m). In D.C. courts,
you have only 60 days from the date the summons is “issued” (i.e., signed
by the clerk) in which to serve all of the defendants. You can file a motion
for an extension of these deadlines, but you have to explain the efforts you
have made to serve all of the defendants.
If you are not filing in forma pauperis it can be difficult to serve all of the
defendants. If it seems like a lot of trouble, don’t give up. Defendants may
waive all of the technical requirements of service if they actually receive a
copy of the Complaint and have sufficient time to answer. If you file in
federal court, there is a form you can send to the defendants asking them to
waive the technical requirements of service. That form is in Appendix D.

44

You can ask the court to appoint someone to serve the defendants for you by
filing a motion, but don’t delay in getting the defendants served.
d. As your case proceeds: serving documents other than the Complaint
Every piece of paper that you file with the court must also be sent to all of
the defendants. However, only the Complaint requires service by the
cumbersome methods detailed above. Once a defendant has filed something
with the court, you should simply mail copies of your filings to any
attorney that has filed an appearance on behalf of any defendant. Include
this information in a “certificate of service” attached to the end of every
paper you file. See Chapter Ten.

45

Chapter Ten: What Happens After I File My Complaint?
1. The Defendant(s) Will File an “Answer”
A. What is an Answer?
After the defendants get your Complaint, they must respond to you and the
court. They respond by filing a legal document called an “Answer.” In the
Answer, the defendants will tell you and the court whether they think certain
facts and allegations are true. The defendants will read your Complaint and
either “admit” or “deny” the facts you wrote. If the defendants do not either
“admit” or “deny” something in your Complaint, it is the same as if they had
“admitted” it.
The Answer must include the defendants’ “affirmative defenses.” An
“affirmative defense” is when the defendants say that even if they did what
you said in your Complaint, they cannot be held responsible. Common
affirmative defenses are self-defense, statute of limitations, or qualified
immunity. If the defendant does not put the defense in the Answer, he
“waives” it. This means he can never bring it up again.
B. When does a defendant have to file an Answer?
In federal court and in D.C. Superior Court, defendants have 20 days to file
an Answer from the date they receive the summons. The District of
Columbia, however, has 60 days in which to file an Answer. A defendant
might ask the court for more time.
C. I haven’t received an Answer. Why?
There are several reasons why a defendant will not file an Answer.
•

The defendant will claim that he/she did not receive your Complaint
and summons. This is why it is very important to make sure you have
proof that the defendant actually received your Complaint and summons.

•

The defendant “moves” or asks the court to transfer the case. The
defendant will file a motion with the court and you will receive a copy.
You must respond to the defendant’s motion. Additionally, you should
also demand that an Answer be filed.

•

The defendant “moves” or asks the court to dismiss the Complaint.
The defendant will file a motion with the court and you will receive a
copy. If the court grants the defendant’s motion, your lawsuit will be
thrown out of court without the judge or a jury deciding any of the facts
or enforcing your rights. Some common reasons why the court might

46

dismiss your Complaint include that you filed your Complaint in federal
court but did not exhaust your administrative remedies (you did not go
all the way through the grievance process at the D.C. Jail or CTF), or
that you brought a tort action against the District of Columbia, but did
not provide the District with notice of your injury within sixty days after
it occurred. Another common reason why Complaints are dismissed is
because they do not state a legal claim.
If the defendant files a motion to dismiss, he is not required to file an
Answer until the motion is denied. If the defendant files a motion to
dismiss instead of an Answer, read the motion carefully. The defendant
will list the mistakes in your Complaint. You may want to correct these
mistakes and file an amended Complaint.
D. Do I have to reply to an Answer? Do I have to reply to a motion?
•

Answer: When a defendant files an Answer, you do not need to file
any response unless the answer contains a counterclaim (that is, a
claim against you), or the court orders you to file a reply. See Fed. R.
Civ. P. 7(a).

•

Motion: When a defendant files a motion instead of an Answer,
however, you must respond to the motion. The next section discusses
how to file and respond to motions.

2. You and the Defendant(s) Might File a “Motion”
A. What is a motion?
A “motion” is a request for the court to do something. In general, if you
want the court to do something, you must file a motion.
To make a motion, title your motion “Plaintiff’s Motion for ______” and fill
in the blank with what you want the court to do. For common motions, some
courts provide pre-printed forms that you simply fill out and file with the
court.
Every time you file a motion with the court, there is usually a fee. The
Superior Court of D.C. waives this fee, however, if they have granted your
Motion to Proceed In Forma Pauperis.
B. Which motions will I use or need to know about?
Listed below are some motions that you may wish to file at some point
during your case, with a brief description of the standards you must meet to
have the motion granted. This is not a complete list of all motions. As a pro

47

se litigant, you should not worry about formal names. Rather, try to use
simple English to convey your request.
Motion to Proceed In Forma Pauperis
Use one of the forms in the Appendices or draft your own that contains:
(a) a complete listing of your assets (money and property)
(b) a listing of your debts, and
(c) a statement that you cannot afford to pay the filing fee or other fees
associated with your case
Motion for Appointment of Counsel
Unlike criminal cases, you do not have the right to an attorney in a civil
case. Different courts have different standards for granting this
discretionary relief. Generally, your motion should explain:
(a) the merits of your case and how it may help you and others
(b) why you can’t pay for an attorney
(c) your efforts to find an attorney to represent you without payment,
and
(d) the difficulty you will have in representing yourself because of the
complexity of the legal issues, the amount of factual discovery
needed, your lack of education, your difficulties with the English
language, or any disabilities which will make it hard for you to
prosecute your case
Motion for Extension of Time
If you need more time to respond to a motion or to comply with a court
order, do not hesitate to ask for a reasonable extension of time. Try to
file the request before the deadline. Brief extensions are routinely
granted, particularly when it is the first request for an extension and has
been filed before the original deadline passed.
You will increase your chances of obtaining an extension if you explain
to the court why you are having difficulty filing a response in the time
allowed (e.g., a lockdown, administrative detention, limitations on the
use of the library) and explain why you will be able to respond within
the extension you request.
C. Do I respond to the defendant’s motions?
If you agree with the defendant’s motion, you can simply not respond and
allow the court to grant it or you can file a notice that you consent to
defendant’s motion. Consenting may speed up the court’s decision on the
motion. It also shows that you are fair and reasonable.

48

However, you will probably disagree with most motions filed by a
defendant. If you disagree with the defendant’s motion, you must respond to
the defendant’s motion.
D. When do I respond to the defendant’s motions?
You have a limited amount of time to respond to any motion, but the amount
of time varies depending on the court and the type of motion. Check the
local rules of the court to determine how much time you have to respond. If
you cannot figure out how much time you have to respond, try to respond as
quickly as you are able and include a section in your response detailing any
unusual difficulty you had in filing your response if it takes you more than
two weeks.5
E. How do I respond to the defendant’s motions?
When you receive a motion, read the motion carefully and try to read all
statutes, rules, or cases cited in the motion. See if they say what the
defendants say they do. See if the cases are really about situations like
yours. Before starting to write your response, take some time to list the
things in the motion with which you agree and disagree. If you disagree with
the legal standards involved, you will need to research the laws and cases
cited in the motion to challenge them.
If you disagree with the facts, you may need to submit evidence to support
your side. Try to make your points plainly without overstating your case.
You don’t have to use big words—in fact, it’s better not to. And make your
sentences short and simple.
The two motions that defendants most often file against prisoners are
motions to dismiss and motions for summary judgment. Although similar
motions, the standards that must be met to have these two motions granted
are very different:
Motion to Dismiss
This kind of motion looks only at the allegations of your Complaint and
argues that it is somehow defective. The defendant typically argues that
your Complaint does not state a legal claim. In making such a motion,
the defendant will ordinarily identify the claims made in your Complaint
and the standards for stating those claims.
5

For purposes of meeting filing deadlines in federal court, an inmate’s legal papers are considered
“filed” as of the date they are delivered to a prison official for mailing. Houston v. Lack, 487 U.S.
266, 270-71 (1988) (“inmate mailbox rule”).

49

In responding to this kind of motion, identify all claims that the
defendant did not address (or may have overlooked) and explain how
you have met the standards for stating the claims in your Complaint. For
those claims that were addressed, consider whether the defendant has a
point. Abandoning weak or baseless claims can enhance your credibility
with the defendant(s) and the court. Otherwise, explain to the court the
reason that your claims should be considered.
Do not hesitate to amend (edit) your Complaint to include allegations
that will clarify or state another claim or identify other defendants. You
amend a Complaint by asking the court’s permission in your own
motion. If the court grants your Motion to Amend Complaint, you then
submit a new, better written Complaint.
Motion for Summary Judgment
This is the kind of motion in which the defendant(s) argues that you
don’t have enough evidence to prove your point. In response, you can
argue that the motion ignores questions of fact that are not yet resolved,
that you have evidence to prove your claims, or that you need time to get
the evidence that will prove your claims. Sometimes you can argue all of
these.
You should file all evidence that you have to support your claims in
response to a motion for summary judgment. In particular, you should
prepare a sworn statement that you sign, either as an affidavit or (when
allowed) a sworn declaration. The affidavit or sworn declaration should
state the evidence or the facts that you would tell the court if you were to
testify in a court hearing.

F. Do I need to sign my motions and documents to be filed
in court?
Yes. The Rules of Civil Procedure (both state & federal) require that every
document filed with the court bear the name, address, and signature of the
person who files it. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 11, D.C. Super. Ct. Civ. R. 14.
Please be aware that your signature on such a pleading constitutes a
“certificate that to the best of [your] knowledge, information, and belief
formed after a reasonable inquiry, [the document] is well grounded in fact
and is warranted by existing law or a good faith argument for the extension,
modification, or reversal of existing law, and that it is not interposed for any
improper purpose, such as to harass or to cause unnecessary delay or
needless increase in the cost of litigation.”

50

G. Do I need to mail the defendant(s) a copy of the motions
and documents that I file with the court?
Yes. You must mail a copy of every paper you file with the court to all
defendants and include a statement that you have done so in the paper itself.
D.C. Super. Ct. Civ. R. 5. This is commonly called the “certificate of
service” and it is usually the last page of every document filed. You can
simply include a statement below your signature that “I mailed a copy of
this paper to counsel for all parties on [date].” However, the rules of civil
procedure technically require a little more, and attorneys typically take a
more formal approach to the requirements of this rule, such as the following:

CERTIFICATE OF SERVICE
I hereby certify that a true and correct copy of my Motion for Extension of
Time [title of your paper being filed] was served by first class mail, postage
prepaid, on the date indicated below upon the following counsel of record:
Catherine Randolph
Name of Law Firm
1098 K St. N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20008
[Name and address of the defendant’s attorney]

____________
Date

John B. Smith [your signature]
John B. Smith [your name]

3. If Your Claim is Not Dismissed, Conduct Discovery
A. What is discovery?
Discovery is anything that you do to obtain evidence to support your case.
Informal discovery includes talking with witnesses, copying information
from newspapers or other public sources, and keeping careful notes about
things that you have seen or heard that are relevant to your claims. You
should begin informal discovery long before you file your Complaint.
Formal discovery is a legal process which provides a few different ways to
obtain evidence from defendants. You can ask for discovery of anything that
51

is relevant to your case. Defendants will also serve discovery on you. That
means you may have to answer interrogatories, document requests and
requests for admissions. You will also likely be deposed.
There are four key types of discovery:
Interrogatories
These are a list of questions directed to the defendant.
See Fed. R. Civ. P. 33; D.C. Super. Ct. Civ. R. 33.
Document Requests
These are a list of documents you want from a defendant.
See Fed. R. Civ. P. 34; D.C. Super. Ct. Civ. R. 34.
Requests for Admissions
These are a list of facts to which you believe a defendant may admit.
See Fed. R. Civ. P. 36; D.C. Super. Ct. Civ. R. 36.
Depositions
A deposition is an interview of a witness taken under oath and recorded by a
stenographer or video camera. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 30; D.C. Super. Ct. Civ.
R. 30. You can also do a deposition with written questions. See Fed. R. Civ.
P. 31; D.C. Super. Ct. Civ. R. 31.
For prisoners who are representing themselves, the most important
discovery tools are interrogatories and requests for documents. Defendants
generally admit little or nothing, and courts will not ordinarily permit
prisoners to conduct depositions.
Typically, courts do not allow the parties to serve discovery on each other
until after some initial conference is held or a motion to dismiss is denied.
See Fed. R. Civ. P. 26(a)(1)(E)(iii) (action filed by prisoner pro se is exempt
from initial disclosures, discovery planning conference). Formal discovery
is mailed to defendants, but it is not filed with the court unless it is
being attached to a motion or a response to a motion.
If you get to the point where you are in discovery, write the D.C. Prisoners’
Project for more advice. You may need the help of an attorney.
4. After Discovery, Settle Your Case or Go to Trial
A. Will my case go to trial?
Most civil cases do not go to trial. Instead, the parties reach a settlement
agreement instead of going to trial. A settlement conference is like a
negotiation, where the plaintiff and defendant (and their attorneys) discuss

52

the case and try to reach a compromise. If they can agree, the plaintiff
agrees to drop his/her lawsuit in return for something from the defendant
(usually money). The settlement agreement is like a contract. A civil case
only goes to trial if the parties cannot reach a settlement agreement. If your
case reaches the point of a settlement conference and you are unsure of how
to negotiate, write to the D.C. Prisoners’ Project.
B. How do I conduct a trial?
How to conduct a trial is beyond the scope of this handbook. There are
numerous rules governing witnesses, whether you have a right to a jury,
how the jury is chosen, and how evidence is admitted (and objected to)
during the trial. If you are going to go to trial, ask the court to appoint an
attorney for you—file a Motion for Appointment of Counsel. If the court
denies your motion, write to the D.C. Prisoners’ Project for help. We cannot
make any promises, but maybe we can find someone to help you.

53

54

Appendix A: Grievance Procedures

A. Steps in the Grievance Process at the D.C. Jail

D.C. Jail

-

Informal grievance process

-

What if I have an
emergency? Then
you do not have to
file a grievance in
this way. You may
file an Emergency
Grievance. See the
D.C. Department of
Corrections Program
Statement.

-

Formal grievance process

-

Read about the grievance process in the Inmate
Grievance Procedure, Inmate Handbook, and D.C.
Department of Corrections Program Statement. If you
do not have your own copy, these must be available to
you in the library. Pay close attention to deadlines.
Staff must not discipline you or retaliate against you
for filing a grievance. Before you submit your
grievance, consider making a photocopy or hand-copy
and keeping it for your own records.
Fill out an Inmate Complaint-Informal Resolution
form. You must submit this form within 7 calendar
days after the incident or seven calendar days from
when you learned of the incident. Any staff member
assigned to your housing unit must make these
available to you, even if you are currently being
disciplined. Put the complaint in the grievance box.
You will receive a receipt that confirms your
complaint was received.
Assist with the investigation and read the
response: A staff member will talk to you. That
person will also talk to others and do some research.
You should receive a response within 10 days. If you
do not receive a response within 10 calendar days,
you may file a formal complaint. SEE BELOW.
Decide if you are satisfied with the response.
•

If you are satisfied with the response, sign it.
Your problem has been resolved and you may
not go to court. STOP HERE.

•

If you are not satisfied with the response, then
file a formal grievance within 5 calendar days
after you receive the informal resolution
response. SEE BELOW.

Fill out Inmate Grievance Process Form 1
Grievance (IGP Form 1). Any staff member who is
assigned to your housing unit should give you this

55

form, or you can get one from your library. Make sure
you follow the instructions in the D.C. Department of
Corrections Program Statement. You should submit
this form within 5 calendar days after you receive the
response from your informal grievance.
-

Put the grievance in the locked box in your housing
unit marked “Grievances.”

-

Read the warden’s response.
•
•

Grievance appeal:

-

Final grievance appeal:

If you are satisfied, STOP HERE.
If you are not satisfied, then file an appeal
with the Deputy Director. SEE BELOW.

If you are not satisfied with the warden’s response,
you may appeal it. Fill out an Inmate Grievance
Process Form 2 Appeal—Deputy Director (IGP Form
2). You must file this within 5 calendar days after
you receive a response from the warden. You should
attach a photocopy of your informal complaint, your
formal complaint, all responses, and any supporting
information. Keep your original documents. You
should receive a response from the Deputy Director
within 21 days.

-

If you are not satisfied with the Deputy Director’s
response, you may file a final appeal. Fill out an
Inmate Grievance Process Form 3 Appeal (IGP Form
3). Include a photocopy of all of your earlier
complaints, appeals, responses, and supporting
information. You must submit this appeal within 5
calendar days after you received a response from the
Deputy Director. You will receive a response from
the Director within 21 calendar days.

-

If you are not satisfied with the Director’s response,
you may now bring your complaint to court.

Stop or go to court:

B. Steps in the Grievance Process at the Correctional Treatment
Facility (CTF)

CTF

-

Informal grievance process

Read about the grievance process in Chapter 14 of
the CCA Corporate and Facility Policy and your
Inmate Handbook. If you do not have a copy, these
are available to you in the library. Pay close attention

56

to deadlines. Staff must not discipline you or retaliate
against you for filing a grievance.

-

Fill out the 14-5A Informal Resolution form. You
must submit this form within 7 calendar days of the
event that you are complaining about. If your
complaint is about medical care, submit your form to
health services staff via mail. For other complaints,
give your complaint to the person mentioned in the
policy—often this is a Grievance Officer or the
Grievance Coordinator.

-

Assist with the investigation and read the
response: A staff member will talk to you. That
person will also talk to others and do some research.
You should receive a response within 15 days.

-

Decide if you are satisfied with the response.

What if I have an
emergency to my
health or safety?
Then you may not
have to file an
informal grievance
(14-5A). You may
file an Emergency
Grievance using
Form 14-5B and
receive a response
within one day.

Formal grievance process

•

If you are satisfied with the response and your
problem has been resolved, then you may not
want to go to court. STOP HERE.

•

If you are not satisfied with the response, then
submit a formal grievance within 5 calendar
days after you receive the informal resolution
response. SEE BELOW.

-

Fill out 14-5B Inmate/Resident Grievance Form.
Make sure you follow the instructions in the CCA
Corporate and Facility Policy. Currently, you must
submit this form within 5 calendar days of the date
listed on the response to your informal grievance.
You must also attach a photocopy of your initial
grievance (the 14-5A form). Before you submit your
grievance, consider keeping a photocopy for yourself.

-

Put the grievance in a sealed envelope marked
“Grievance” and put it in the grievance mail box.

-

Read the response. You should receive a response
within 15 days.

57

•
•

Appeal: grievance
appeal to warden:

Appeal: grievance
appeal to contract
monitor:

-

If you are not satisfied with the response, you may
appeal it to the warden. Fill out the appeal section of
14-5B and resubmit the grievance. You must file this
within 5 calendar days of the response date listed on
the 14-5 Inmate/Resident Grievance from. Follow the
instructions in Chapter 14 of the CCA Corporate and
Facility Policy and your Inmate Handbook. You must
attach a copy of your previous complaints and
responses you received. Consider making a
photocopy of your documents before you submit
them. You should receive a response within 15
calendar days.

-

If you are not satisfied with the warden’s response,
you may file a an appeal to the Contract Monitor.
You must submit this appeal within 5 calendar days
after you receive the warden’s decision. You must
attach your previous grievances and responses.

-

If you are not satisfied with the Contract
Monitor’s response, you may file an appeal to the
Director of the D.C. Department of Corrections.
You must submit this appeal within 5 days after you
receive the Contract Monitor’s decision. You must
attach your previous grievances and responses.

-

If you are not satisfied with the response from the
Director of the D.C. Department of Corrections, you
may now bring your complaint to court.

Appeal: grievance
appeal to Director, D.C.
Dept. of Corrections

Stop or go to court:

If you are satisfied, STOP HERE.
If you are not satisfied, then file an appeal.
SEE BELOW.

58

Appendix B: Jurisdiction Flowcharts
I am bringing claims that arise ONLY under D.C. law.
Where should I file my Complaint?
Am I seeking damages
of less than $5,000?

YES

NO

Am I seeking damages
of more than $5,000?

YES

You must file your Complaint in the Small Claims Branch of the
Superior Court of D.C. If you are bringing tort claims against D.C. or a
medical malpractice claim, you must have given proper notice to the
defendants. You must participate in your case in Small Claims Court, so
do not file here unless you will be released soon.

You must file your Complaint in the Civil Actions Branch of the Superior
Court of D.C. If you are bringing tort claims against D.C. or a medical
malpractice claim, you must have given proper notice to the defendants.

I am bringing claims that arise under D.C. AND federal law.
Where should I file my Complaint?
Do the D.C. claims
arise out of the same
factual circumstances
as your federal law
claims?

YES

You may file your Complaint in the Superior Court of D.C. If you are
bringing tort claims against D.C. or a medical malpractice claim, you must
have given proper notice to the defendants.
OR
You may file your Complaint in the U.S. District Court. Before you file
your Complaint, you must have gone all the way through the grievance
process at the D.C. Jail or CTF.

NO

You must file your Complaint in the Superior Court of D.C. If you are
bringing tort claims against D.C. or a medical malpractice claim, you must
have given proper notice to the defendants.

I am bringing claims that arise ONLY under federal law.
Where should I file my Complaint?
Do the claims arise out
of a federal statute or
the U.S. Constitution?

YES

You may file your Complaint in the Superior Court of D.C.
OR
You may also file your Complaint in the U.S. District Court. Before you
file your Complaint, you must have gone all the way through the grievance
process at the D.C. Jail or CTF.

59

60

Appendix C: Sample Complaints for U.S. District Court
The parts in “handwriting” print are for you to change to fit your situation.
The regular print may also have to be changed, but generally should go in a
Complaint.

IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA

YOUR NAME, Pro se
CORRECTIONAL TREATMENT FACILITY
1901 E STREET, SE
WASHINGTON, D.C. 20003
(202) 673-8136
Plaintiff,
v.
CORRECTIONS CORPORATION OF
AMERICA, INC.
10 BURTON HILLS BLVD.
NASHVILLE, TN 37215
(800) 624-2931

)
)
)
)
)
)
)
)
)
)
)
)
)

No. __:____-CV-___(_)

)
)
)

Defendant.

COMPLAINT
This is an action seeking monetary damages stemming from injury Plaintiff
received as a result of Defendant’s violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act
42 U.S.C. § 12101 et seq.
JURISDICTION AND VENUE
1.
This Court has jurisdiction over this matter pursuant to 28 U.S.C. 1331
federal question because an ADA claim is a matter of federal law.

61

2.
Venue is proper in this judicial district pursuant to 28 U.S.C. 1391(a)
because the events giving rise to this claim took place in this judicial district.
PARTIES
3.
Plaintiff, Your Name, is an inmate at the Central Treatment Facility
(hereinafter “CTF”), located at 1901 E Street S.E., Washington, D.C. 20003. He
entered the facility on date.
4.
Defendant Corrections Corporation of America, Inc. (hereinafter
“CCA”) is a business incorporated in Tennessee doing business in Washington,
D.C. and operates the CTF in Washington, D.C.
FACTUAL ALLEGATIONS

DESCRIBE THE FACTS OF THE SITUATION. Use as many numbers as you
need, but be clear and to the point.
5.

Fact one

6.

Fact two
CLAIM FOR RELIEF

7.
Defendant CCA refused to provide reasonable accommodation to Plaintiff’s
disability in violation of the ADA. As a result of Defendant’s violation, Plaintiff
suffered bodily injuries and physical and mental pain.
PRAYER FOR RELIEF
WHEREFORE Plaintiff demands judgment against Defendant for damages,
costs and all other relief as this Court deems necessary and proper.
JURY DEMAND
Plaintiff demands trial by jury of all issues triable by jury as of right.

Dated:

Respectfully submitted,
By_________SIGN HERE
[YOUR NAME], Pro Se

62

Appendix D: Forms for Filing a Complaint in U.S. District
Court
D-1:

Prisoner In Forma Pauperis Instructions

D-2:

Prison Trust Account Report

D-3:

Motion to Proceed In Forma Pauperis

D-4:

Consent to Collection of Fees from Trust Account

D-5:

Civil Cover Sheet

D-6:

Sample Complaint

D-7:

Application for Appointment of Counsel

63

64

Rev. 4/06
PR

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA
INSTRUCTIONS TO PRISONER LITIGANTS
REGARDING THE FILING OF A CIVIL COMPLAINT AND
APPLICATION TO PROCEED IN FORMA PAUPERIS
Listed below, you will find very important information relating to the preparation of a civil complaint for
filing in this Court. Please read the instructions carefully. The filing fee for a civil action is $350.00. Pursuant
to the amendments to 28 U.S.C. § 1915, a prisoner must pay the full filing fee when bringing a civil action. If,
however, insufficient funds exist in the prisoner’s account, the court must assess a partial filing fee. Thereafter, the
prisoner is required to make monthly payments of the preceding month’s income. The agency having custody of
the prisoner must forward payments from the prisoner’s account to the Clerk of Court each time the amount in the
account exceeds $10.00, until the filing fee is paid.
You may request permission from the court to proceed in forma pauperis, following the assessment of the
initial filing fee, by completing the enclosed Application to Proceed without Prepayment of Fees and Affidavit.
0

The name of this Court must be written at the top of the first page of your complaint. (Sample format
attached).

0

Your name, address and prisoner identification number must appear in the caption. All defendants must
be named in the caption. The use of et al. is not permitted as the rules require you to name each defendant.
Please provide the address of each named defendant.

0

The word COMPLAINT must appear under the caption. Clearly set out your grievance in the body of the
complaint, name those against whom you have a grievance, and what you would like the Court to do to
correct the situation.

0

Your complaint must be legibly handwritten or typed on white, letter-size (8 1/2 x 11 inch) paper. Write
only on the front of each page. Your complaint must be double-spaced. If you are requesting a jury trial,
the jury demand must be stated in your complaint. You must originally sign your complaint in ink.

0

A Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus or a complaint under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, submitted by anyone
incarcerated in a District of Columbia facility, must be on Court approved forms. The filing fee for a
habeas corpus petition is $5.00.

0

You must file the originally signed complaint, as well as the originally signed Application to Proceed
without Prepayment of Fees. In addition, you are required to file a Consent to Collection of Fees from Trust
Account form, Prisoner Trust Account Report, and a six-month certified copy of your prison trust account
statement.

0

Preparation of the summons will be the responsibility of the Clerk’s Office. If you are granted your request
to proceed in forma pauperis, your summons and complaints will be served by the U.S. Marshal, when the
Judge so directs.

0

Please mail your complaint and all other appropriate documents to: U.S. District Court Clerk’s Office, 333
Constitution Avenue, NW, Room 1225, Washington, DC 20001.

NANCY MAYER-WHITTINGTON, CLERK

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA
PRISONER TRUST ACCOUNT REPORT
Name:___________________________________ Registration
#:_______________________________
Please submit this to the trust officer of every institution in which you have been confined during the
preceding six months. Submit the completed forms and supporting ledger sheets to the Court.

************************************************************************
Trust Officer
To:
From: Clerk, U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia
Under the Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA), a prisoner filing a civil action must obtain from the trust
officer of each institution in which the prisoner was confined during the preceding six months a certified copy
of the prisoner's trust account statement for the six months prior to filing of the action. 28 U.S.C. §
1915(a)(2).
Please complete this form, attach the supporting ledger sheets, and return these documents to the prisoner.

BALANCE at time of filing of the action:

____________________________________

AVERAGE MONTHLY DEPOSITS during the
six months prior to filing of the action:

____________________________________

AVERAGE MONTHLY BALANCE during the
six months prior to filing of the action:

____________________________________

I certify that the above information accurately states the deposits and balances in applicant's trust fund
account for the period shown and that the attached ledger sheets are true copies of account records
maintained in the ordinary course of business.
Date: ______________________
Authorized Signature:
______________________________________________________________
Title:
____________________________________________________________________________

OAO 240 (Rev. 10/03)

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
COLUMBIA

District of

APPLICATION TO PROCEED
WITHOUT PREPAYMENT OF
FEES AND AFFIDAVIT

Plaintiff
V.

CASE NUMBER:

Defendant
I,

declare that I am the (check appropriate box)

G petitioner/plaintiff/movant

G other

in the above-entitled proceeding; that in support of my request to proceed without prepayment of fees or costs
under 28 USC §1915 I declare that I am unable to pay the costs of these proceedings and that I am entitled to the
relief sought in the complaint/petition/motion.
In support of this application, I answer the following questions under penalty of perjury:
1. Are you currently incarcerated?

G Yes

G No

(If “No,” go to Part 2)

If “Yes,” state the place of your incarceration
Are you employed at the institution?

Do you receive any payment from the institution?

Attach a ledger sheet from the institution(s) of your incarceration showing at least the past six months’
transactions.
2. Are you currently employed?

G Yes

G No

a.

If the answer is “Yes,” state the amount of your take-home salary or wages and pay period and give the
name and address of your employer. (List both gross and net salary.)

b.

If the answer is “No,” state the date of your last employment, the amount of your take-home salary or wages
and pay period and the name and address of your last employer.

3. In the past 12 twelve months have you received any money from any of the following sources?
a.
b.
c.
d.
e.
f.

Business, profession or other self-employment
Rent payments, interest or dividends
Pensions, annuities or life insurance payments
Disability or workers compensation payments
Gifts or inheritances
Any other sources

G
G
G
G
G
G

Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes

G
G
G
G
G
G

No
No
No
No
No
No

If the answer to any of the above is “Yes,” describe, on the following page, each source of money and state the
amount received and what you expect you will continue to receive.

AO 240 Reverse (Rev. 10/03)

4.

Do you have any cash or checking or savings accounts?

G Yes

G No

If “Yes,” state the total amount.
5.

Do you own any real estate, stocks, bonds, securities, other financial instruments, automobiles or any other
G Yes
G No
thing of value?
If “Yes,” describe the property and state its value.

6.

List the persons who are dependent on you for support, state your relationship to each person and indicate
how much you contribute to their support. (If children are dependents, please refer to them by their initials)

I declare under penalty of perjury that the above information is true and correct.

Date

Signature of Applicant

NOTICE TO PRISONER: A Prisoner seeking to proceed without prepayment of fees shall submit an affidavit
stating all assets. In addition, a prisoner must attach a statement certified by the appropriate institutional officer
showing all receipts, expenditures, and balances during the last six months in your institutional accounts. If you have
multiple accounts, perhaps because you have been in multiple institutions, attach one certified statement of each
account.

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA

CONSENT TO COLLECTION OF FEES FROM TRUST ACCOUNT

Re: ____________________________________ v. ___________________________________
Civil Action No. __________________________

I, ________________________________________, Reg. No. _____________________,
hereby consent for the appropriate prison official to withhold from my prison account and to pay the
U.S. District Court an initial fee of 20 percent of the greater of:
(a)

the average monthly deposits to my account for the six-month period immediately
preceding the filing of my complaint; or

(b)

the average monthly balance in my account for the six-month period immediately
preceding the filing of my complaint.

I further consent for the appropriate prison officials to collect from my account on a
continuing basis each month, an amount equal to 20 percent of each month’s income. Each time the
amount in the account reaches $10.00, the Trust Officer shall forward the interim payment to the
Clerk’s Office, U.S. District Court, until such time as the $250.00 filing fee is paid in full.
If appropriate, I will execute the institution consent form where I am housed, which will
permit the staff to withdraw the amount ordered by this court as payment for the filing fee each
month until the $250.00 filing fee is paid in full.
By executing this document, I also authorize collection, on a continuing basis, of any costs
imposed by the District Court.
____________________________________
Signature of Plaintiff
__________________
Date

CIVIL COVER SHEET
JS-44
(Rev.1/05 DC)

I (a) PLAINTIFFS

DEFENDANTS

(b) COUNTY OF RESIDENCE OF FIRST LISTED PLAINTIFF

COUNTY OF RESIDENCE OF FIRST LISTED DEFENDANT
(IN U.S. PLAINTIFF CASES ONLY)
NOTE: IN LAND CONDEMNATION CASES, USE THE LOCATION OF THE
TRACT OF LAND INVOLVED

(EXCEPT IN U.S. PLAINTIFF CASES)

(c) ATTORNEYS (FIRM NAME, ADDRESS, AND TELEPHONE NUMBER)

II. BASIS OF JURISDICTION

ATTORNEYS (IF KNOWN)

III CITIZENSHIP OF PRINCIPAL PARTIES (PLACE AN x IN ONE BOX
FOR PLAINTIFF AND ONE BOX FOR DEFENDANT) FOR DIVERSITY CASES ONLY!

(PLACE AN x IN ONE BOX ONLY)

9 1 U.S. Government
Plaintiff

9 3 Federal Question
(U.S. Government Not a Party)

9 2 U.S. Government
Defendant

9 4 Diversity
(Indicate Citizenship of Parties
in item III)

PTF

DFT

Citizen of this State

91

91

Citizen of Another State

92

92

Citizen or Subject of a
Foreign Country

93

93

PTF

DFT

Incorporated or Principal Place
of Business in This State

94

94

Incorporated and Principal Place
of Business in Another State

95

95

Foreign Nation

96

96

IV. CASE ASSIGNMENT AND NATURE OF SUIT
(Place a X in one category, A-N, that best represents your cause of action and one in a corresponding Nature of Suit)

9 A. Antitrust
9 410 Antitrust

9 B. Personal Injury/
Malpractice

9 C. Administrative Agency
Review

9 310 Airplane
9 315 Airplane Product Liability
9 320 Assault, Libel & Slander
9 330 Federal Employers Liability
9 340 Marine
9 345 Marine Product Liability
9 350 Motor Vehicle
9 355 Motor Vehicle Product Liability
9 360 Other Personal Injury
9 362 Medical Malpractice
9 365 Product Liability
9 368 Asbestos Product Liability

9 151 Medicare Act
Social Security:
9 861 HIA ((1395ff)
9 862 Black Lung (923)
9 863 DIWC/DIWW (405(g)
9 864 SSID Title XVI
9 865 RSI (405(g)

9 D. Temporary Restraining
Order/Preliminary
Injunction
Any nature of suit from any category may
be selected for this category of case
assignment.
*(If Antitrust, then A governs)*

Other Statutes
9 891 Agricultural Acts
9 892 Economic Stabilization Act
9 893 Environmental Matters
9 894 Energy Allocation Act
9 890 Other Statutory Actions (If
Administrative Agency is Involved)

9 E. General Civil (Other) OR 9 F. Pro Se General Civil
Real Property
9 210 Land Condemnation
9 220 Foreclosure
9 230 Rent, Lease & Ejectment
9 240 Torts to Land
9 245 Tort Product Liability
9 290 All Other Real Property
Personal Property
9 370 Other Fraud
9 371 Truth in Lending
9 380 Other Personal Property Damage
9 385 Property Damage Product Liability

Bankruptcy
9 422 Appeal 28 USC 158
9 423 Withdrawal 28 USC 157
Prisoner Petitions
9 535 Death Penalty
9 540 Mandamus & Other
9 550 Civil Rights
9 555 Prison Condition
Property Rights
9 820 Copyrights
9 830 Patent
9 840 Trademark
Federal Tax Suits
9 870 Taxes (US plaintiff or
defendant
9 871 IRS-Third Party 26
USC 7609

Forfeiture/Penalty
9 610 Agriculture
9 620 Other Food &Drug
9 625 Drug Related Seizure of
Property 21 USC 881
9 630 Liquor Laws
9 640 RR & Truck
9 650 Airline Regs
9 660 Occupational
Safety/Health
9 690 Other

Other Statutes
9 400 State Reapportionment
9 430 Banks & Banking
9 450 Commerce/ICC
Rates/etc.
9 460 Deportation

9 470 Racketeer Influenced & Corrupt
Organizations
Q 480 Consumer Credit
Q 490 Cable/Satellite TV
9 810 Selective Service
9 850 Securities/Commodities/
Exchange
9 875 Customer Challenge 12 USC
3410
9 900 Appeal of fee determination
under equal access to Justice
9 950 Constitutionality of State
Statutes
9 890 Other Statutory Actions (if not
administrative agency review or
Privacy Act

9 G. Habeas Corpus/
2255

9 H. Employment
Discrimination

9 I. FOIA/PRIVACY
ACT

9 J. Student Loan

9 530 Habeas Corpus-General
9 510 Motion/Vacate Sentence

9 442 Civil Rights-Employment
(criteria: race, gender/sex,
national origin,
discrimination, disability
age, religion, retaliation)

9 895 Freedom of Information Act
9 890 Other Statutory Actions
(if Privacy Act)

9 152 Recovery of Defaulted Student
Loans (excluding veterans)

*(If pro se, select this deck)*

*(If pro se, select this deck)*

9 K. Labor/ERISA
(non-employment)

9 L. Other Civil Rights
(non-employment)

9 M. Contract

9 N. Three-Judge Court

9 710 Fair Labor Standards Act
9 720 Labor/Mgmt. Relations
9 730 Labor/Mgmt. Reporting &
Disclosure Act
9 740 Labor Railway Act
9 790 Other Labor Litigation
9 791 Empl. Ret. Inc. Security Act

9 441 Voting (if not Voting Rights
Act)
9 443 Housing/Accommodations
9 444 Welfare
9 440 Other Civil Rights
Q 445 American w/DisabilitiesEmployment
Q 446 Americans w/DisabilitiesOther

9 110
9 120
9 130
9 140
9 150

9 441 Civil Rights-Voting (if Voting
Rights Act)

9 153
9 160
9 190
9 195
Q 196

Insurance
Marine
Miller Act
Negotiable Instrument
Recovery of Overpayment &
Enforcement of Judgment
Recovery of Overpayment of
Veteran’s Benefits
Stockholder’s Suits
Other Contracts
Contract Product Liability
Franchise

V. ORIGIN
9 1 Original
Proceeding

9 2 Removed
from State
Court

9 3 Remanded from
Appellate Court

9 4 Reinstated
or Reopened

9 5 Transferred from
another district
(specify)

9 Multi district
Litigation

9 7Appeal to
District Judge
from Mag. Judge

VI. CAUSE OF ACTION (CITE THE U.S. CIVIL STATUTE UNDER WHICH YOU ARE FILING AND WRITE A BRIEF STATEMENT OF CAUSE.)

VII. REQUESTED IN
COMPLAINT

VIII. RELATED CASE(S)
IF ANY
DATE

DEMAND $

CHECK IF THIS IS A CLASS
9
ACTION UNDER F.R.C.P. 23
(See instruction)

9 YES

9 NO

Check YES only if demanded in complaint
JURY DEMAND: 9 YES
9 NO

If yes, please complete related case form.

SIGNATURE OF ATTORNEY OF RECORD

INSTRUCTIONS FOR COMPLETING CIVIL COVER SHEET JS-44
Authority for Civil Cover Sheet
The JS-44 civil cover sheet and the information contained herein neither replaces nor supplements the filings and service of pleadings or other papers as required by
law, except as provided by local rules of court. This form, approved by the Judicial Conference of the United States in September 1974, is required for the use of the Clerk of
Court for the purpose of initiating the civil docket sheet. Consequently a civil cover sheet is submitted to the Clerk of Court for each civil complaint filed. Listed below are tips
for completing the civil cover sheet. These tips coincide with the Roman Numerals on the Cover Sheet.
I.

COUNTY OF RESIDENCE OF FIRST LISTED PLAINTIFF/DEFENDANT (b) County of residence: Use 11001 to indicate plaintiff is resident of
Washington, D.C.; 88888 if plaintiff is resident of the United States but not of Washington, D.C., and 99999 if plaintiff is outside the United States.

III.

CITIZENSHIP OF PRINCIPAL PARTIES: This section is completed only if diversity of citizenship was selected as the Basis of Jurisdiction under Section
II.

IV.

CASE ASSIGNMENT AND NATURE OF SUIT: The assignment of a judge to your case will depend on the category you select that best represents the
primary cause of action found in your complaint. You may select only one category. You must also select one corresponding nature of suit found under
the category of case.

VI.

CAUSE OF ACTION: Cite the US Civil Statute under which you are filing and write a brief statement of the primary cause.

VIII.

RELATED CASES, IF ANY: If you indicated that there is a related case, you must complete a related case form, which may be obtained from the Clerk’s
Office.

Because of the need for accurate and complete information, you should ensure the accuracy of the information provided prior to signing the form.

Rev. 6/07

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA

)
)
)
)
(Enter your full name, prison number
and address)
v.
)
)
)
)
(Enter the full name and address(es),
if know, of the defendant(s) in this
action)

COMPLAINT FOR VIOLATION OF CIVIL RIGHTS
Instructions for filing a Complaint by a Prisoner
Under the Civil Rights Act, 42 U.S.C. § 1983
This packet contains one copy of a complaint form and one copy of an application to proceed in forma
pauperis. To start an action, you must file an original and one copy of this complaint form.
Your complaint must be clearly handwritten or typewritten and you must sign and declare under penalty
of perjury that the facts are correct. If you need additional space to answer a question, you may use
another blank page.
Your complaint can be brought in this Court only if one or more of the named defendants is located
within the District of Columbia. Further, you must file a separate for each claim that you have unless
they are related to the same incident or problem. The law requires that you state only facts in your
complaint.
You must supply a certified copy of your prison trust account, pursuant to the provisions of 28 U.S.C.
§1915, effective April 26, 1996. The filing fee is $350.00. If insufficient funds exist in your prison
account at the time of filing your complaint, the court must access, and when funds exist, collect an
initial filing fee equal to 20 percent of the greater of:
(1)
(2)

the average monthly deposits to your prison account, or
the average monthly balance of your prison account for the prior six-month period.

Thereafter, you are required to make monthly payments of 20% of the preceding month's income. The
agency having custody over you must forward payments from your account to the clerk of the court each
time the amount in the account exceeds $10.00 until the filing fees are paid.
Therefore, before an assessment can be made regarding your ability to pay, you must submit a certified
copy of your prison account for the prior six-month period.
When this form is completed, mail it and the copy to the Clerk of the United States District Court for the
District of Columbia, 333 Constitution Ave., N.W., Washington, D.C. 20001.
I.

SUCCESSIVE CLAIMS
Pursuant to the Prison Litigation Reform Act of 1995, unless a prisoner claims to be in
"imminent danger of serious physical injury," he or she may not file a civil action or pursue a
civil appeal in forma pauperis "if the prisoner has, on three or more 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 they failed to state a
claim upon which relief could be granted."

II.

PREVIOUS LAWSUITS
A.

Have you begun other lawsuits in state or federal court dealing with the same or similar
facts involved in this action?
Yes ( )
No ( )

B.

Have you begun other lawsuits in state or federal court relating to your imprisonment?
Yes ( )
No ( )

C.

If your answers to A or B is Yes, describe each lawsuit in the space below. (If there is
more than one lawsuit, describe the additional lawsuits on another piece of paper, using
the same outline.)
1.

Parties to this previous lawsuit.
Plaintiffs:
Defendants:

2.

Court (If federal court, please name the district; if state court name the county.)

3.

Docket number:

4.

Name of judge to whom case was assigned:

III.

5.

Disposition (for example: Was the case dismissed? Was it appealed? Is it still
pending?)

6.

Approximate date of filing lawsuit:

7.

Approximate date of disposition:

PLACE OF CONFINEMENT

A.

Is there a prisoner grievance procedure in this institution? Yes ( )
No ( )
If your answer is Yes, go to Question III B. If your answer is No, skip Questions III, B,
C and D and go to Question III E.

B.

Did you present the facts relating to your complaint in the prisoner grievance procedure?
Yes ( )
No ( )

C.

If your answer is Yes to Question III B:
1.

To whom and when did you complain?

2.

Did you complain in writing? (Furnish copy of the complaint you made, if you
have one.)
Yes ( )
No ( )

3.

What, if any, response did you receive? (Furnish copy of response, if in
writing.)

4.

What happened as a result of your complaint?

D.

If your answer is No to Question III B, explain why not.

E.

If there is no prison grievance procedure in the institution, did you complain to prison
authorities?
Yes ( )
No ( )

F.

If your answer is Yes to Question III E;
1.

To whom and when did you complain?

IV.

2.

Did you complain in writing? (Furnish copy of the complaint you made, if you
have one.)
Yes ( )
No ( )

3.

What, if any response did you receive? (Furnish copy of response, if in writing.)

4.

What happened as a result of your complaint?

PARTIES
In item A below, place your name and prison number in the first blank and your present address
in the second blank. Do the same for additional plaintiffs, if any.
A.

Name of Plaintiff:
Address:

In item B below, place the full name of the defendant(s) in the first blank, their official position
in the second blank, their place of employment in the third blank, and their address in the fourth
blank. Do the same for additional defendants, if any.
B.

Defendant:
Address:

Defendant:

Address:

Defendant:

Address:

Defendant:

Address:

V.

STATEMENT OF CLAIM
State here briefly as possible the facts of your case. Describe how each defendant is involved.
Include the names of other persons involved, dates, and places. If you intend to allege a number
of related claims, number and set forth each claim in a separate paragraph. Attach extra sheets, if
necessary.

VI.

RELIEF
State briefly exactly what you want the Court to do for you.

Signed this

day of

,

.

(Signature of Plaintiff)

I declare under penalty of perjury that the foregoing is true and correct.

(Date)

n:\Forms\42 USC 1983

(Signature of Plaintiff)

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA
_______________________,
Plaintiff,

vs.
________________________,
Defendant(s).

)
)
)
)
)
)
)
)
)

Case No.____________

MOTION FOR APPOINTMENT OF COUNSEL
I, YOUR NAME, hereby apply for appointment of Counsel. In
support of my application I declare under penalty of
perjury that the following facts are true:
(1) I am the plaintiff in the above-entitled case and I
believe I am entitled to redress.
(2) Because of my poverty I am unable to pay a reasonable
attorney fee.
(3) I have made diligent efforts to obtain legal counsel
but because of my poverty I have been unable to secure
same.
I declare under penalty of perjury that the foregoing is
true and correct.
Executed on DATE.

______________________
Signature of Plaintiff

Appendix E: Sample Complaint for D.C. Superior Court
The parts in regular print should go in your Complaint. However, you will need to
change the facts (the events that took place, your injuries). The parts in
“handwriting” should also be changed.
IN THE SUPERIOR COURT OF THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA
CIVIL DIVISION
John B. Smith

:

3812 Main St.
Washington, D.C. 20007

:

(202) 111-2222
Plaintiff

:
v.

:

Corrections Corporation of America, Inc.
10 Burton Hills Boulevard
Nashville, Tennessee 37215
(800) 624-2931,

Civil Action No.
Calendar No.
Judge
Next Event:

:
:

JURY TRIAL DEMANDED

:
District of Columbia
441 4th Street N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20001
(202) 727-6295,

:

and

:

:

Adam Butler

:

1776 L Street N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20006

:

(202) 222-3456
Defendants

:

COMPLAINT

Comes now Plaintiff John B. Smith (“Plaintiff”), with his complaint against
defendants Corrections Corporation of America and the District of Columbia,
and alleges as follows:

81

PARTIES, JURISDICTION, AND VENUE
1. Jurisdiction of this court is founded on D.C. Code Ann. § 11-921 (2001).
2. Plaintiff John B. Smith is and was, at all times relevant hereto, a prisoner
in custody of the District of Columbia Department of Corrections (DOC). At
the time of the events relevant hereto, Mr. Smith was incarcerated in the
Central Treatment Facility (CTF), a facility operated by the Corrections
Corporation of America (CCA). Mr. Smith is currently incarcerated at
CTF.
3. Defendant the District of Columbia has contracted with defendant CCA to
provide services at the CTF. See D.C. Code § 24-261.05 (formerly § 24495.5).
4. Defendant CCA is incorporated and has its headquarters in Nashville,
Tennessee. CCA has sufficient contacts with the District of Columbia,
deliberately avails itself of business opportunities in the District of
Columbia, and committed acts and omissions in the District of Columbia
that lead to Plaintiff’s harm. See D.C. Code Ann. § 13-423 (2008).
5. The amount in dispute is greater than $5,000.
You will need to change ALL of
the facts to fit your situation.

STATEMENT OF FACTS
6. On January 3, 2008 at approximately 8:15 p.m., Correctional Officer
Butler at the CTF told Plaintiff John Smith to leave the cafeteria where
Plaintiff was mopping the floor.
7. Plaintiff responded that Correctional Officer Thompson told him to remain
there until he returned and told him to leave.
8. Correctional Officer Butler told Plaintiff to leave immediately or he would
be punished.
9. Plaintiff, following Correctional Officer Butler’s instructions, began to
leave the room when, without just cause or provocation, the defendant
Correctional Officer Butler grabbed the mop from Plaintiff and hit him
across the head and back with the handle, causing the Plaintiff to suffer
serious injuries.
10. Attached here as part of the claim is a sketch of the cafeteria—the place of
the incident. See sketch of Cafeteria, attached hereto as Exhibit “A.”

COUNT ONE: ASSAULT AND BATTERY
11. Plaintiff incorporates herein the allegations made in paragraphs 1-10 of this
Complaint.

82

12. This claim is for assault and battery committed by the CCA through its
employee, Correctional Officer Adam Butler, for injuring the Plaintiff
while acting within the scope of his employment and in the discharge of his
duties on January 3, 2008 at 8:15 p.m.
13. The actions of Correctional Officer Butler were intentional and without
justification.
14. As a result of the assault and battery, Plaintiff was hospitalized for three
weeks and received seventeen stitches in his neck and head.
15. As a result of the assault and battery, Plaintiff suffered serious physical and
mental pain and anguish.
16. Plaintiff’s hearing and back have been permanently impaired as a result of
the blows to his head and back by Correctional Officer Butler.
17. The particulars of Plaintiff’s damages are as follows:
a. Medical expenses: Explain your past, current, and future medical
expenses related to this incident. Use dollar amounts.
b. Lost earnings: Write what you did before being incarcerated, what you
planned to work as when you got out, and how the injury affected your
plans. End with a dollar amount.
c. Pain and suffering: Explain your pain and suffering and fill out dollar
amount.
d. Mental anguish: Explain and fill out dollar amount.
e. Permanent disability: Explain and fill out dollar amount.
18. In the event that the contract between CCA and the District of Columbia
requires payment of the District of Columbia, notice of intention to file this
claim was filed with and received by the Mayor of the District of Columbia,
via the Office of Risk Management, within sixty days of the injury. A copy
of the notice is attached to this claim as Exhibit “B.”
19. This claim is filed within one year after the claim accrued, as required by
law. See D.C. Code § 12-301.
COUNT TWO: CRUEL AND UNUSUAL PUNISHMENT
20. Plaintiff incorporates herein the allegations made in paragraphs 1-19 of this
Complaint.
21. Defendants are all “persons” under 42 U.S.C. 1983.
22. Defendants acted under “color of law” in depriving Plaintiff of his right to
be free from cruel and unusual punishment as guaranteed by the Eighth
Amendment.
23. Defendant Butler was personally involved in violating Plaintiff’s
constitutional rights because he inflicted the injury.
24. Defendant CCA was personally involved in violating Plaintiff’s
constitutional rights because CCA did not have appropriate policies in place,
nor provide appropriate training to the guards to prevent guards from giving

83

Change
this
section
to
describe
YOUR
injuries.

conflicting orders to prisoners; using excessive force; or responding
inappropriately to a fellow guard’s use of excessive force.
25. Defendant District of Columbia was personally involved in the violation of
Plaintiff’s constitutional rights because the District did not exercise
appropriate oversight over CCA’s policies and training of guards.

PRAYER FOR RELIEF
WHEREFORE, Plaintiff respectfully requests judgment against defendants in the
sum of ten thousand five hundred and eight-two dollars ($10,582) and such other
and further relief the Court deems justified.
Dated: June 15, 2008

Signature:

John B. Smith

PLAINTIFF DEMANDS TRIAL BY JURY ON HIS CLAIMS FOR
DAMAGES

84

Appendix F: Forms for Filing a Complaint in D.C. Superior
Court—Civil Actions Branch
F-1:

Civil Actions Information Sheet

F-2:

Form Complaint

F-3:

Motion to Proceed In Forma Pauperis

F-4:

Affidavit in Support of Motion to Proceed In Forma
Pauperis

F-5:

Summons

F-6:

Notice and Acknowledgement for Service by Mail

F-7:

Affidavit of Service by Process Server

F-8:

Form Motion

85

86

Superior Court of the District of Columbia
CIVIL DIVISION - CIVIL ACTIONS BRANCH
INFORMATION SHEET

Case Number: ________________________

_________________________________________________________________

vs

Date: ___________________________

____________________________________________
Relationship to Lawsuit
Attorney for Plaintiff

Name: (please print)
Firm Name:

Self (Pro Se)
Other: _____________________

Telephone No.:

Six digit Unified Bar No.:

TYPE OF CASE:
Non-Jury
Demand:$ ___________________________

6 Person Jury
12 Person Jury
Other: _______________________________________________

PENDING CASE(S) RELATED TO THE ACTION BEING FILED
Case No.: ______________________ Judge: _____________________________ Calendar #: _____________________
Case No.: ______________________ Judge: _____________________________ Calendar #: _____________________
NATURE OF SUIT:

(Check One Box Only)

A. CONTRACTS
01 Breach of Contract
02 Breach of Warranty
06 Negotiable Instrument
15 _________________

07 Personal Property
09 Real Property-Real Estate
12 Specific Performance

COLLECTION CASES
14 Under $25,000 Pltf. Grants Consent
16 Under $25,000 Consent Denied
17 OVER $25,000

B. PROPERTY TORTS
01 Automobile
02 Conversion
07 Shoplifting, D.C. Code § 27-102(a)

03 Destruction of Private Property
04 Property Damage

05 Trespass
06 Traffic Adjudication

09 Harassment
10 Invasion of Privacy
11 Libel and Slander
12 Malicious Interference
13 Malicious Prosecution
14 Malpractice Legal
15 Malpractice Medical (Including wrongful death)
16 Negligence-(Not Automobile,

17 Personal Injury – (Not Automobile,

C. PERSONAL TORTS
01 Abuse of Process
02 Alienation of Affection
03 Assault and Battery
04 Automobile-Personal Injury
05 Deceit (Misrepresentation)
06 False Accusation
07 False Arrest
08 Fraud

Not Malpractice)

SEE REVERSE SIDE AND CHECK HERE
CV-496/May 08

IF USED

Not Malpractice)

18 Wrongful Death (Not malpractice)
19 Wrongful Eviction
20 Friendly Suit
21 Asbestos
22 Toxic/Mass Torts
23 Tobacco
24 Lead Paint

INFORMATION SHEET, Continued

C. OTHERS
I.
01 Accounting
02 Att. Before Judgment
04 Condemnation (Emin. Domain)
05 Ejectment
07 Insurance/Subrogation
Under $25,000 Pltf.
Grants Consent
08 Quite Title
09 Special Writ/Warrants
DC Code § 11-941

10 T.R.O./Injunction
11 Writ of Replevin
12 Enforce Mechanics Lien
16 Declaratory Judgment
17 Merit Personnel Act (OEA)
(D.C. Code Title 1, Chapter 6)
18 Product Liability
24 Application to Confirm, Modify,
Vacate Arbitration Award
(D.C. Code § 16-4315)

25 Liens: Tax/Water Consent Granted
26 Insurance/Subrogation
Under $25,000 Consent Denied
27 Insurance/Subrogation
Over $25,000
28 Motion to Confirm Arbitration
Award (Collection Cases Only)
26 Merit Personnel Act (OHR)
30 Liens: Tax/Water Consent Denied

15 Libel of Information
19 Enter Administrative Order as
Judgment [D.C. Code §
2-1802.03(h) or 32-1519(a)]
20 Master Meter (D.C. Code §
42-3301, et seq.)

21 Petition for Subpoena
[Rule 28-I (b)]
22 Release Mechanics Lien
23 Rule 27 (a)(1)
(Perpetuate Testimony)

II.
03 Change of Name
06 Foreign Judgment
13 Correction of Birth Certificate
14 Correction of Marriage
Certificate

____________________________________
Attorney’s Signature

CV-496/May 08

_______________________
Date

SUPERIOR COURT OF THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA
CIVIL DIVISION

Plaintiff
CIVIL A c t i o n

No.

Defendants

COMPLAINT

1.

Jurisdiction of this court is founded on D.C. Code Annotated, 2001 edition, as amended, Sec. 11-921.

Wherefore, Plaintiff demands judgment against Defendant in the sum of S
with interest and costs.

DISTRICT

OF

Phone:

COLUMBIA , ss

being first duly sworn on oath deposes and says that the
foregoing is a just and true statement of the amount owing by defendant to the plaintiff, exclusive of all
set-offs and just grounds of defense.

11(

Agent)

(Plaintiff

Subscribed and sworn to before me this

1 day of

1

(Notary Public/Deputy Clerk)

Superior Court of the District of Columbia
CIVIL DIVISION

Plaintiff(s)

Case No.

vs.

Defendant(s)

MOTION TO PROCEED IN FORMA PAUPERIS
and respectfully request this
Comes now the
honorable court to allow them to proceed without prepayment of costs for the following reason(s):

Printed name:

Signature:

Address:

Home phone no.
Business phone no.
CERTIFICATE OF SERVICE

I certify that a copy of the above was mailed, postage prepaid, on
To:
Name:

Name:

Address:

Address:

Signature
POINTS AND AUTHORITIES
(Write the reasons why the Court should grant your motion and include Court rules, laws and cases, if any, that support
your reasons.)

Signature

Superior Court of the District of Columbia
CIVIL DIVISION

I

Plaintiff
vs.

Civil Action No.

Defendant

AFFIDAVIT IN SUPPORT OF MOTION TO PROCEED IN FORMA PAUPERIS
I further swear that the responses which I have made to questions and instructions below
relating to my ability to pay the cost of proceeding in this action are true.
1. Are you presently employed? Yes 0
No
a. If the answer is yes, state the amount of your salary or wages per month, and give the name
and address of your employer.

b.

2.

If the answer is no, state the date of last employment and the amount of the salary and wages
per month which you received

Have you received within the past twelve months any money from any of the following sources?
a. Business, profession or form of self-employment? Yes
No
b. Rent payments, interest or dividends? Yes 0
No
C.
Pensions, annuities or life insurance payments? Yes
No 0
d. Gifts or inheritance? Yes 0
No 0
e. Any other sources? Yes
No 0
If the answer to any of the above is yes, describe each source of money and state the amount
received form each during the past twelve months.

Form CV(6k6941Nov

66

9.1473 wd-314

3. Do you own any cash, or do you have money in checking or savings account? Yes
No
(Include any funds in prision accounts). If the answer is yes, state the total value
of the items owned.

4. Do you own any real estate, stocks, bonds, notes, automobiles, or other valuable property
(excluding ordinary household furnishings and clothing)? Yes
No
If the answer is yes describe the property and state its approximate value.

5. List the persons who are dependent upon you for support, state your relationship to those
persons, and indicate how much you contribute toward their support.

I have read and subscribed to the above and swear, under oath, that the information is true
and correct. I understand that a false statement or answer to any question in this affidavit
will subject me to penalties for perjury.

(Plaintiff's signature)

being first duly sworn under oath, presents that he
has read and subscribed to the above add states that the information herein is true and correct.

(Plaintiff's signature)

SUBSCRIBED AND SWORN TO before me this
day of

Notary Public or other person
authorized to administer an oath

CIVIL DIVISION
500 Indiana Avenue, N.W., Room JM-170
Washington, D.C. 20001 Telephone: 879-1133

Plaintiff
VS.

Civil Action No.

Defendant

SUMMONS

To the above named Defendant:
You are hereby summoned and required to serve an Answer to the attached Complaint, either
personally or through an attorney, within twenty (20) days after service of this summons upon your
exclusive of the day of service. If you are being sued as an officer or agency of the United States
Government or the District of Columbia Government you have 60 days after service of this summons to
serve your Answer. A copy of the Answer must be mailed to the attorney for the party plaintiff who is
suing you. The attorney’s name and address appear below. If plaintiff has no attorney, a copy of the
Answer must be mailed to the plaintiff at the address stated on this Summons.
You are also required to file the original Answer with the Court in Room JM 170 at 500 Indiana
Avenue. N.W. between 9:00 am. and 4:00 pm., Mondays through Fridays or between 9:00 am. and
12:00 Noon on Saturdays. You may file the original Answer with the Court either before you serve a
copy of the Answer on the plaintiff or within five (5) days after you have served the plaintiff If you fail
to file an Answer, judgment by default may be entered against you for the relief demanded in the
complaint.
Clerk of the Court

Name of Plaintiff's Attorney

Date
Telephone
PUEDE OBTENERSE COPIAS DE ESTE FORMULARIO EN ESPANOL EN EL TRIBUNAL SUPERIOR DEL
DISTRITO DE COLUMBIA, 500 INDIANA AVENUE, N.W., SALA JM 170
YOU MAY OBTAIN A COPY OF THIS FORM IN SPANISH AT THE SUPERIOR COURT OF D.C., 500 INDIANA
AVENUE, N.W., ROOM JM 170
err cv(W. 98

NOTE: SEE IMPORTANT INFORMATION ON BACK OF THIS FORM.

IMPORTANT: IF YOU FAIL TO SERVE AND FILE AN ANSWER WITHIN THE TIME
STATED ABOVE, OR IF, AFTER YOU ANSWER, YOU FAIL TO APPEAR AT ANY TIME THE
COURT NOTIFIES YOU TO DO SO, A JUDGMENT BY DEFAULT MAY BE ENTERED
AGAINST YOU FOR THE MONEY DAMAGES OR OTHER RELIEF DEMANDED IN THE
COMPLAINT. IF THIS OCCURS, YOUR WAGES MAY BE ATTACHED OR WITHHELD OR
PERSONAL PROPERTY OR REAL ESTATE YOU OWN MAY BE TAKEN A
N
DSOLD TO PAY
THE JUDGMENT. IF YOU INTEND TO OPPOSE THIS ACTION, DO NOT FAIL TO ANSWER

WlTHIN THE REQUIRED TIME
If you wish to talk to a lawyer and feel that you cannot afford to pay a fee to a lawyer, promptly contact
one of the offices of the Legal Aid Society (628-l 161) or the Neighborhood Legal Services (682-2700) for help
or come to Room JM 170 at 500 Indiana Avenue, N.W., for more information concerning places
where you may
ask for such help.

SCR CIV FORM 1-A
Notice and Acknowledgment for Service by Mail
SUPERIOR COURT OF THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA
Civil Division

V.

Civil

Action Number

NOTICE
To:

Name
Address

The enclosed summons, complaint and initial order are served pursuant to Rule 4(c)(4) of the Superior
Court Rules of Civil Procedure.
You must sign and date the Acknowledgement. If you are served on behalf of a corporation, unincorporated association (including a partnership), or other entity, you must indicate under your signature your relationship to that entity. If you are served on behalf of another person and you are authorized to receive process,
you must indicate under your signature your authority.
If you do not complete and return the form to the sender within twenty (20) days after it has been
mailed, you (or the other party on whose behalf you are being served) may be required to pay any expenses
incurred in serving a summons, complaint and initial order in any other manner permitted by law.
If you do complete and return this form, you (or the other party on whose behalf you are being served)
must answer the complaint within twenty (20) days after you have signed, dated and returned the form. If you
fail to do so, judgment by default may be taken against you or the relief demanded in the complaint.
This Notice and Acknowledgment of Receipt of Summons, Complaint and Initial Order was mailed on

(insert date)

Date of Signature

Signture

Acknowledgment of Receipt of Summons, Complaint and Initial Order
I received a copy of the summons, complaint and initial order in the above captioned matter at

I
Relationship to Defedant/Authority

Signature
Fcml cv(6)159a/Max

To Receive Service of Process

97

Date of Signature

I

SUPERIOR COURT OF THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA
CIVIL DIVISION

Plaintiff(s)
vs.

j Civil Action No.

Defendant(s)

;
1

AFFIDAVIT OF SERVICE BY PROCESS SERVER
, having been duly
authorized to make service of the Summons, Complaint and Initial Order in the above
entitled case, hereby depose and say:
That my age and date of birth are as follows:

I,

That my residential or business address is:
That at
(

o’clock am/pm on the

day of

) I served the above named defendant(s) (personally)
(defendant’s name) a copy of

the Summons, Complaint and Initial Order at
( ) I served the above named defendant (s)
(defendant’s name) by leaving a copy of the Summons,
Complaint and Initial Order at his/her place of abode or business at
with
a person of approximately
age, who stated that he/she resides therein with the defendant.

years of

If return receipt does not purport to be signed by the party named in the Summons, then
state specific facts from which the Courts can determine that the person who signed the
receipt meets the appropriate qualifications for receipt of process as required by SCR.
Civ. 4 (e) (2).
SPECIFIC FACTS:

Signature
Subscribed and sworn to before me this

day of

9

Deputy Clerk/Notary Public

CIVIL DIVISION
Plain

No.

VS

Defendant

MOTION - (Pro-Se)
MOTION OF: I
(State briefly what you want the Court to do)

Printed name:
Address:

Signature:
Home phone no.
Business phone no.

CERTIFICATE OF SERVICE

On

I mailed this motion to all the lawyers in the case,
the plaintiff(s) and the defendant(s) who do not have lawyers, as listed below:

Address:

Address:

Signature

POINTS AND AUTHORITIES
(Write the reasons why the Court should grant your motion and include Court rules, laws and cases, if any, that support your
reasons.)

Form CVl6k3931Mu.
637.06 wd.990

66

Signature

Appendix G: Forms for Filing a Complaint in D.C. Superior
Court—Small Claims Branch

G-1:

Small Claims Information Sheet

G-2:

Form Complaint

G-3:

Motion to Proceed In Forma Pauperis

G-4:

Affidavit in Support of Motion to Proceed In Forma
Pauperis

G-5:

Summons

G-6:

Affidavit of Service by Process Server

G-7:

Form Motion

103

104

SUPERIOR COURT OF THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA
CIVIL DIVISION
SMALL CLAIMS AND CONCILIATION BRANCH
INFORMATION SHEET
Case No:
Plaintiff
vs
Date:
Defendant

_________________________________
Name: (please print)

Relationship to Lawsuit
Attorney for Plaintiff

Firm Name, if applicable
___________________________________________
Telephone No:
6 Digit Unified Bar No.
Do you need an interpreter for your case?
AMOUNT IN CONTROVERSY:

Yes

Self (Pro Se)
Other:
No If yes, what type:

$1 -$500

$500.01 - $2,500

$2,500.01 - $5,000

PENDING CASE(S) RELATED TO THE ACTION BEING FILED:
Case No:

Case No:

NATURE OF SUIT: (Check One Box Only)
A. CONTRACTS – a claim based on an agreement between parties made either orally or in writing
Debt Suit

Breach of Warranty

Negotiable Instrument

Personal Property

Loan

Rent Due

Unpaid Wages

Services Rendered

Security Deposit

Breach of Contract

Home Improvement Contract

Oral

B. PROPERTY TORTS – a claim for an injury or wrong committed on the property of another
Automobile

Conversion

Shop Lifting

Property Damage

Destruction of Property

Trespass

C. PERSONAL TORT – a claim for an injury or wrong committed on the person of another
Assault and Battery

False Witness

Libel and Slander

Automobile

Personal Injury

Negligence

Harassment

Fraudulent Misrepresentation

Slip and Fall

D.
UNIFORM ARBITRATION ACT – an action
based on an arbitration agreement

G.
SUBROGATION – a claim filed by one
person in the place of another

E.
FOREIGN JUDGMENT- a judgment, decree or
order filed from another jurisdiction

H.
COLLECTION- a claim filed by a seller or
lender to collect a consumer debt

F.

MEDICAL MALPRACTICE – a claim against a healthcare provider for professional misconduct

Have you given notice of intention to file your lawsuit 90 days prior to filing?
CV-3046/Rev. Nov. 07

Yes

No

Superior Court of the District of Columbia
CIVIL DIVISION

Small Claims Form 11
General

SMALL CLAIMS AND CONCILIATION BRANCH
Bldg. B, 510 4th Street, N.W., RM –120
WASHINGTON, D.C. 20001
TELEPHONE 879-1120

____________________________________

(1) ______________________________________

Plaintiff(s)

Defendant(s)

____________________________________

vs.

(2) ______________________________________

____________________________________
Address

(3) ______________________________________

Zip Code

Phone No. ______________________

No. SC ______________
STATEMENT OF CLAIM

_____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
_____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
_____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
_____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, ss: ______________________________________________________ being first duly sworn on oath says
the foregoing is a just and true statement of the amount owing by the defendant to plaintiff, exclusive of all set-offs and just grounds
of defense.
__________________________________________________________
Plaintiff /Agent (Sign and Print Name)
Title:______________________________________________________

___________________________________________
Address
___________________________________________
City/State/Zip Code
Phone No.: __________________________________

Subscribed and sworn to before me this __________ day of ____________________________________________, 20 ________
(month and year)

____________________________________________________
Deputy Clerk (or notary public)
______________________________________________________
Attorney for Plaintiff (Sign and Print Name)
______________________________________________________
Address
Zip Code
Bar No.: _____________________Phone No.: ________________

NOTICE (All parties must notify the court of any address changes.)
To:
(1) ___________________________________________
Defendant
_____________________________________________
Address
Zip Code
Home
Business

(2) _____________________________________________________
Defendant
_____________________________________________________
Address
Zip Code
Home
Business

You are hereby notified that ___________________________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________ has made a claim and is requesting judgment
against you in the sum of ___________________________________________________________ dollars ($__________________),
as shown by the foregoing statement. The court will hold a hearing upon this claim on ____________________________________
__________________________________________________________________________________________________________
at 9:00 a.m. in the Small Claims and Conciliation Courtroom 119, Bldg. B, 510 4th Street, N.W.,
SEE REVERSE SIDE FOR COMPLETE INSTRUCTIONS BRING THIS NOTICE WITH YOU AT ALL TIMES
CV-471/JUL. 06

Deputy Clerk
Small Claims and Conciliation Branch

INSTRUCTIONS TO DEFENDANT(S)
IMPORTANT: IF YOU FAIL TO APPEAR AT THE TIME STATED OR AT ANY OTHER TIME THE COURT
NOTIFIES YOU TO DO SO, A JUDGMENT BY DEFAULT MAY BE ENTERED AGAINST YOU FOR THE
MONEY, DAMAGES OR OTHER RELIEF DEMANDED IN THE STATEMENT OF CLAIM. IF THIS OCCURS,
YOUR WAGES OR BANK ACCOUNT MAY BE ATTACHED OR WITHHELD OR ANY PERSONAL PROPERTY
OWNED BY YOU MAY BE TAKEN AND SOLD TO PAY THE JUDGMENT. DO NOT FAIL TO APPEAR AT
THE REQUIRED TIME.
Before any case goes to trial in the Small Claims and Conciliation Branch, a trained mediator will meet with all
parties to see if a settlement can be worked out. If all parties are present when your case is called, you and the plaintiff will
be able to see a mediator and hopefully settle your dispute without having to go to trial.
You may come with or without a lawyer. The Statement of Claim indicates whether the plaintiff has a lawyer. If the
plaintiff does have a lawyer and you wish to dispute the claim, it would be in your interest to have your own lawyer.
If you wish to have legal advice and feel that you cannot afford to pay a fee to a lawyer, you may contact the
Neighborhood Legal Services (682-2700) OR THE D.C. Law Students in Court program (638-4798) or Legal Counsel for
the Elderly @ (202) 434-2170 for help or come to Building B, 510 4th Street N.W., Room 120, for more information
concerning places where you may ask for such help. You may also consult the D.C. Bar Website at: www.lawhelp.org/dc.
Act Promptly.
If it is impossible for you to appear on the date of trial, attempt to contact the Plaintiff to arrange a new date. If
parties agree on a date, notify the clerk of the Small Claims Branch of this court in person or by phone of the new date. If
parties cannot agree, you may contact the clerk who will inform you regarding procedures. If you do not appear on the new
date, a judgment may be entered against you.
Whenever corresponding with the Small Claims clerk's office by mail, please include your case number and your
date to appear in court.
You are given the following additional instructions in the event that you intend to appear without a lawyer.
If you have witnesses, books, receipts, or other writings bearing on this claim, you should bring them with you at
the time of the hearing.
If you wish to have witnesses summoned, see the clerk at once for assistance.
If you admit the claim but desire additional time to pay, you must come to the hearing in person and state the
circumstances to the Court.
PUEDE OBTENERSE COPIAS DE ESTE FORMULARTO EN ESPANOL EN EL TRIBUNAL SUPERIOR DEL
DISTRITO DE COLUMBIA, BUILDING B, 510 4TH STREET N.W., SALA 120.
YOU MAY OBTAIN A COPY OF THIS FORM IN SPANISH AT THE SUPERIOR COURT OF D.C., BUILDING B,
510 4TH STREET N.W., ROOM 120.

CV-471/JUL. 06

Superior Court of the District of Columbia
CIVIL DIVISION

Plaintiff(s)

Case No.

vs.

Defendant(s)

MOTION TO PROCEED IN FORMA PAUPERIS
and respectfully request this
Comes now the
honorable court to allow them to proceed without prepayment of costs for the following reason(s):

Printed name:

Signature:

Address:

Home phone no.
Business phone no.
CERTIFICATE OF SERVICE

I certify that a copy of the above was mailed, postage prepaid, on
To:
Name:

Name:

Address:

Address:

Signature
POINTS AND AUTHORITIES
(Write the reasons why the Court should grant your motion and include Court rules, laws and cases, if any, that support
your reasons.)

Signature

Superior Court of the District of Columbia
CIVIL DIVISION

I

Plaintiff
vs.

Civil Action No.

Defendant

AFFIDAVIT IN SUPPORT OF MOTION TO PROCEED IN FORMA PAUPERIS
I further swear that the responses which I have made to questions and instructions below
relating to my ability to pay the cost of proceeding in this action are true.
1. Are you presently employed? Yes 0
No
a. If the answer is yes, state the amount of your salary or wages per month, and give the name
and address of your employer.

b.

2.

If the answer is no, state the date of last employment and the amount of the salary and wages
per month which you received

Have you received within the past twelve months any money from any of the following sources?
a. Business, profession or form of self-employment? Yes
No
b. Rent payments, interest or dividends? Yes 0
No
C.
Pensions, annuities or life insurance payments? Yes
No 0
d. Gifts or inheritance? Yes 0
No 0
e. Any other sources? Yes
No 0
If the answer to any of the above is yes, describe each source of money and state the amount
received form each during the past twelve months.

Form CV(6k6941Nov

66

9.1473 wd-314

3. Do you own any cash, or do you have money in checking or savings account? Yes
No
(Include any funds in prision accounts). If the answer is yes, state the total value
of the items owned.

4. Do you own any real estate, stocks, bonds, notes, automobiles, or other valuable property
(excluding ordinary household furnishings and clothing)? Yes
No
If the answer is yes describe the property and state its approximate value.

5. List the persons who are dependent upon you for support, state your relationship to those
persons, and indicate how much you contribute toward their support.

I have read and subscribed to the above and swear, under oath, that the information is true
and correct. I understand that a false statement or answer to any question in this affidavit
will subject me to penalties for perjury.

(Plaintiff's signature)

being first duly sworn under oath, presents that he
has read and subscribed to the above add states that the information herein is true and correct.

(Plaintiff's signature)

SUBSCRIBED AND SWORN TO before me this
day of

Notary Public or other person
authorized to administer an oath

CIVIL DIVISION
500 Indiana Avenue, N.W., Room JM-170
Washington, D.C. 20001 Telephone: 879-1133

Plaintiff
VS.

Civil Action No.

Defendant

SUMMONS

To the above named Defendant:
You are hereby summoned and required to serve an Answer to the attached Complaint, either
personally or through an attorney, within twenty (20) days after service of this summons upon your
exclusive of the day of service. If you are being sued as an officer or agency of the United States
Government or the District of Columbia Government you have 60 days after service of this summons to
serve your Answer. A copy of the Answer must be mailed to the attorney for the party plaintiff who is
suing you. The attorney’s name and address appear below. If plaintiff has no attorney, a copy of the
Answer must be mailed to the plaintiff at the address stated on this Summons.
You are also required to file the original Answer with the Court in Room JM 170 at 500 Indiana
Avenue. N.W. between 9:00 am. and 4:00 pm., Mondays through Fridays or between 9:00 am. and
12:00 Noon on Saturdays. You may file the original Answer with the Court either before you serve a
copy of the Answer on the plaintiff or within five (5) days after you have served the plaintiff If you fail
to file an Answer, judgment by default may be entered against you for the relief demanded in the
complaint.
Clerk of the Court

Name of Plaintiff's Attorney

Date
Telephone
PUEDE OBTENERSE COPIAS DE ESTE FORMULARIO EN ESPANOL EN EL TRIBUNAL SUPERIOR DEL
DISTRITO DE COLUMBIA, 500 INDIANA AVENUE, N.W., SALA JM 170
YOU MAY OBTAIN A COPY OF THIS FORM IN SPANISH AT THE SUPERIOR COURT OF D.C., 500 INDIANA
AVENUE, N.W., ROOM JM 170
err cv(W. 98

NOTE: SEE IMPORTANT INFORMATION ON BACK OF THIS FORM.

IMPORTANT: IF YOU FAIL TO SERVE AND FILE AN ANSWER WITHIN THE TIME
STATED ABOVE, OR IF, AFTER YOU ANSWER, YOU FAIL TO APPEAR AT ANY TIME THE
COURT NOTIFIES YOU TO DO SO, A JUDGMENT BY DEFAULT MAY BE ENTERED
AGAINST YOU FOR THE MONEY DAMAGES OR OTHER RELIEF DEMANDED IN THE
COMPLAINT. IF THIS OCCURS, YOUR WAGES MAY BE ATTACHED OR WITHHELD OR
PERSONAL PROPERTY OR REAL ESTATE YOU OWN MAY BE TAKEN A
N
DSOLD TO PAY
THE JUDGMENT. IF YOU INTEND TO OPPOSE THIS ACTION, DO NOT FAIL TO ANSWER

WlTHIN THE REQUIRED TIME
If you wish to talk to a lawyer and feel that you cannot afford to pay a fee to a lawyer, promptly contact
one of the offices of the Legal Aid Society (628-l 161) or the Neighborhood Legal Services (682-2700) for help
or come to Room JM 170 at 500 Indiana Avenue, N.W., for more information concerning places
where you may
ask for such help.

SUPERIOR COURT OF THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA
CIVIL DIVISION

Plaintiff(s)
vs.

j Civil Action No.

Defendant(s)

;
1

AFFIDAVIT OF SERVICE BY PROCESS SERVER
, having been duly
authorized to make service of the Summons, Complaint and Initial Order in the above
entitled case, hereby depose and say:
That my age and date of birth are as follows:

I,

That my residential or business address is:
That at
(

o’clock am/pm on the

day of

) I served the above named defendant(s) (personally)
(defendant’s name) a copy of

the Summons, Complaint and Initial Order at
( ) I served the above named defendant (s)
(defendant’s name) by leaving a copy of the Summons,
Complaint and Initial Order at his/her place of abode or business at
with
a person of approximately
age, who stated that he/she resides therein with the defendant.

years of

If return receipt does not purport to be signed by the party named in the Summons, then
state specific facts from which the Courts can determine that the person who signed the
receipt meets the appropriate qualifications for receipt of process as required by SCR.
Civ. 4 (e) (2).
SPECIFIC FACTS:

Signature
Subscribed and sworn to before me this

day of

9

Deputy Clerk/Notary Public

Superior Court of the District of Columbia
CIVIL DIVISION
SMALL CLAIMS AND CONCILIATION BRANCH
Bldg. B, 510 4th Street, N.W., Room 120
Washington, D.C. 20001 Telephone (202) 879-1120
_________________________________, Plaintiff
vs.

SC No.:_______________________

_________________________________, Defendant
MOTION OF:_____________________________TO___________________________
(State briefly what you want the Court to do)_______________________________________
______________________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________________
Print Name

Signature

Address

Home Phone No.

Business Phone

To the best of my knowledge the above statements are true.
Subscribed to before me this __________ day of ______________________________, 20___
____________________________________
Deputy Clerk/Notary Public
THIS MOTION HAS BEEN SET FOR HEARING IN THE SMALL CLAIMS AND
CONCILIATION COURTROOM ON ___________________________ AT ______ ____.M.
A COPY OF THE ABOVE MOTION WAS MAILED FROM THE CLERK’S OFFICE
TO:

YOU HAVE 10 DAYS TO RESPOND TO THIS MOTION. IT WILL BE NECESSARY
FOR YOU TO APPEAR ON THE ABOVE DATE.

Appendix H: List of Process Servers
Note: The D.C. Prisoners’ Project does not have any information regarding the
quality of these process servers. The D.C. Prisoners’ Project is not recommending
these process servers.
Adante' Associates
2560 Harlem Avenue
Baltimore, Maryland 21216
(410) 566-3020
B T Edwards Process Service, LLC
6501 Gold Yarrow Lane
Upper Marlboro, Maryland 20772-4022
(800) 737-8348
Constable Services
P.O. Box 3673
Laurel, Maryland 20709
(888) 364-7774
Monumental Process Servers, Inc.
221 West Joppa Road
Towson, Maryland 21204
(800) 547-3783
Same Day Process Service
1322 Maryland Avenue N.E.
Washington, D.C. 20002
(202) 398-4200
United States Process Serving Corp.
1322 Maryland Avenue N.E.
Washington D.C. 20002
(202) 398-4200

119

Appendix I: Resources
Note: The D.C. Prisoners’ Project does not have any information regarding the
quality of these organizations or publications. The D.C. Prisoners’ Project is not
recommending these organizations or publications.

Organizations
The Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia has several divisions
that may be able to help you. The Community Defender Division houses the
Institutional Services Program (ISP) and the Community Re-entry Program (CRP).
The ISP protects the legal rights of prisoners and the CRP responds to the legal and
social needs of those returning home from prison. You can reach the Community
Defender Program at 680 Rhode Island Avenue, NE, Suite H-5, Washington, D.C.
20002. The telephone number is (202) 824-2801.
The Special Litigation Division of the Public Defender Service addresses
systematic criminal justice issues, including trial practices. The main Trial Division
represents people in criminal trials. The Parole Division represents people in
revocation of parole hearings. You can reach these divisions by writing 633 Indiana
Ave., N.W., Washington, D.C. 20004. The phone number is (202) 628-1200.

University of the District of Columbia School of Law HIV/AIDS Legal Clinic,
4200 Connecticut Avenue, N.W., Bldg. #38, 2nd Fl. Washington, D.C. 20008
http://www.law.udc.edu/programs/index.html: 202-274-7312
Law students in the HIV/AIDS Clinic handle family law and public entitlement
issues for HIV/AIDS patients and their families.
University Legal Services Protection and Advocacy Program
http://www.uls-dc.org/: 202-547-0198
University Legal Services Protection and Advocacy Program provides legal
representation to District residents with disabilities

Publications
Jailhouse Lawyer’s Manual
Columbia Human Rights Law Review
425 West 116th Street
New York, NY 10027
Attn: JLM Order

120

Manual written for prisoners in New York. The Seventh Edition main volume is $25
for prisoners. The Immigration & Consular Access Supplement is $5. The JLM
Spanish language edition (SJLM) is $15. First class shipping is included in the
price. Prices may change. Send a check or money order payable to Columbia
Human Rights Law Review. The manual is also available for free on-line:
http://hrlr.razummedia.com/ejlm.php.

Lewisburg Prison Project
Box 128
Lewisburg, PA 17837
Free brochure about federal prisoners’ rights; include self-addressed stamped
envelope.

National Prison Project Journal
National Prison Project of the ACLU
733 15th Street N.W.
Suite 620
Washington, D.C. 20006
Prisoners’ rights news and court cases; $2 for prisoners.

Protecting Your Health and Safety: A Litigation Guide for Inmates
Prison Legal News
2400 N.W. 80th Street #148
Seattle, WA 98117
Explains rights related to health and safety (does not cover criminal matters); $10
You can also subscribe to Prison Legal news for $18 per year. Write to the same
address.

Self-Help Litigation Manual
Oceana Press
75 Main Street
Dobbs Ferry, NY 10522
Information on legal research and how to litigate; $30

121

D.C. PRISONERS’ PROJECT
WASHINGTON LAWYERS COMMITTEE FOR CIVIL RIGHTS
AND URBAN AFFAIRS
11 Dupont Circle, N.W.
Suite 400
Washington, D.C. 20036

PRISONER HELP LINE
(We accept collect calls)
(202) 775-0323

Please write us with suggestions for the next edition of this handbook or other
handbooks you would like to see.

122

 

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