7and The Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Indiana did not err in dismissing two lawsuits with prejudice and imposing a two-year filing ban on an inmate who knowingly submitted a fraudulent grievance form.
Based on findings of Anthony Martin’s fraudulent conduct in “several” cases, district courts in northern Indiana and southern Indiana have now barred Martin from filing documents in civil cases until that he pays all of his outstanding Federal Court filing fees.
7and Circuit noted that he chose to publish his opinion by curiam in Anthony Martin c. Timothy Redden, et. Al., 21-1937, on Monday because he had not “recently issued a precedent ruling which considered the merits of a district court imposing the severe double penalty of removal and prohibition of filing when a litigant attempts to defraud the court”.
A few years ago, the Southern District of Indiana imposed a filing ban on Martin because he submitted false information in an application for in forma pauperis proceedings. 7and Circuit upheld the sanction in Martin c. Fowler, 804 F. App’x 414 (7th Cir. 2020).
The Northern District of Indiana Bar grew out of a case based on Martin’s allegation that an Indiana State Prison guard sexually assaulted him.
Following the discovery, the defendants sought summary judgment on the grounds that Martin had not exhausted his administrative remedies before filing suit for the alleged assault, submitting evidence that Martin had started but had not finished. the required procedures. Martin had filed a formal grievance, which was denied and returned to him with the explanation that an investigator had concluded the assault did not occur.
In opposing summary judgment, Martin filed numerous documents.
Among those documents was a copy of an “offender grievance response report” which purported to show that Martin had checked the box to appeal the denial of his assault grievance and had signed and dated the form.
The problem was that the document contained a Bates stamp that was not Martin’s.
The defendants submitted the statement of a paralegal from the Indiana Attorney General’s office swearing that a Bates-stamped version of the assault grievance response form, stamped GRIEVANCE 000655, was given to Martin when he was discovered. in another case, Martin v. Zimmerman, no. 3:18-CV-593-JD-MGG (ND Ind. 6 Aug. 2018). This version contained no signature, date or tick.
The defendants argued that Martin falsified other documents and forms in his response to summary judgment, such as other grievances on forms that the prison did not even use.
The Northern District of Indiana refused to remove the altered documents from the record, explaining that Martin was not entitled to “a gratuitous opportunity to defraud the court”. He then rejected his request for the appointment of experts because “Martin sought to develop evidence, not to interpret it”.
After reviewing numerous submissions on penalties, the district court found that Martin had knowingly submitted an amended grievance form to defeat summary judgment. The court determined that a hearing was not necessary to resolve any issues with the Bates-stamped form because Martin had no evidence disputing the paralegal’s affidavit.
The Northern District of Indiana then determined the appropriate penalty under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(h) and its inherent authority, outlining Martin’s history of misrepresentation and the penalties that other courts have imposed on him. had already imposed.
The court barred Martin for two years “from filing any document in a civil matter in this court until he pays all fines and filing fees owed in federal court,” citing Support system. Int’l, Inc. v. Mack, 45 F.3d 185, 186 (7th Cir. 1995). The drop bar does not apply to habeas corpus appeals or motions.
Since Martin could not submit anything to the district court, the district court also dismissed all of his pending civil cases.
On appeal, Martin argued that the district court abused its discretion in imposing the two-year filing bar.
7and The circuit panel of judges David Hamilton, Michael Scudder and Tom Kirsch was unconvinced.
“Martin’s conduct in this and other matters cannot be tolerated,” the 7and Circuit wrote. “Just dismissing Martin’s case, given that he was doomed on the exhaustion defense he was trying to evade, would not have been a sanction at all.
“…We fully recognize that the dismissals and Mac barre were severe penalties. That is why the courts do not impose them lightly. They should only be imposed where lesser penalties have not been, or appear unlikely to be, sufficient deterrents to pursuing frivolous or frivolous litigation. The stiff penalties here were appropriate given Martin’s egregious behavior, his history of judicial misconduct, and the fact that previous penalties (including a separate sentence Mac bar of another court) had not deterred him from lying.