Can the Court Limit a Person's Ability to Access the Courts for Abusing the Judicial System ?
In Martin v. State, 747 So. 2d 386 (Fla. 2000) the litigant insulted and maligned the reputation of numerous judges and other court personnel.
In addition, he engaged in ethnic and religious disparagement.
Eventually, this Court prohibited Martin from filing any further pro se litigation. See: Martin v. State, 833 So. 2d 756 (Fla. 2002) (Martin II).
Before imposing such a sanction in Martin II, however, the court allowed Martin the opportunity to argue why he should not be sanctioned.
Like Tasse, Martin responded with additional abuse.
The court found a passage from that decision relevant today:
Lussy v. Fourth District Court of Appeal, 828 So. 2d 1026 (Fla. 2002);
Armstead v. State, 817 So. 2d 841 (Fla. 2002);
Peterson v. State, 817 So. 2d 838 (Fla. 2002);
Jackson v. Florida Dep't of Corrections, 790 So. 2d 398 (Fla. 2001);
Green v. Moore, 786 So. 2d 579 (Fla. 2000) (table) (No. SC00-137);
Martin v. State, 747 So. 2d 386 (Fla. 2000);
Ranson v. State, 727 So. 2d 909 (Fla. 1999) (table) (No. 94,306);
Ranson v. Mills, 727 So. 2d 909 (Fla. 1999) (table) (No. 94,305);
Rivera v. State, 773 So. 2d 56 (Fla. 1998) (table) (No. 93,074);
Rivera v. State, 728 So. 2d 1165 (Fla. 1998) (table) (No. 92,601);
Mathis v. Singletary, 760 So. 2d 947 (Fla. 1998) (table) (No. 92,098);
Vickson v. the Florida Bar, 717 So. 2d 541 (Fla. 1998) (table) (No. 92,256);
Foster v. State, 717 So. 2d 531 (Fla. 1998) (table) (No. 92,424);
Aysisayh v. State, 701 So. 2d 867 (Fla. 1997) (table) (No. 89,927);
Attwood v. Singletary, 661 So. 2d 1216 (Fla. 1995).
This Court ordered Martin to show cause why he should not be sanctioned for abusing the judicial system by filing pleadings that failed to properly invoke the jurisdiction of this Court.
Martin has not done so.
Instead, he has responded with insults, threats of federal litigation, and continued reargument of issues which have already been determined adversely to him. . . .
While we are cognizant of the access to courts implications of refusing to accept any more petitions from the petitioner unless they are signed by an attorney, we are also concerned that failure to impose this sanction will handicap this Court's ability to timely review the many other petitions filed by inmates and other petitioners who have not abused the system.
While on the one hand, we would like to say that the courts should never limit a person's ability to access the courts, on the other hand, there are a handful of petitioners who have so abused the system that failure to restrain them could deny or delay the right of access to courts for the rest of the populace.
Even the United States Supreme Court has had to face the difficult perspective of putting significant restraints on some of its pro se litigants.
Several of the members of the United States Supreme Court did not agree that limits should ever be placed on a litigant; however, a majority of that Court has found in In re McDonald, 489 U.S. 180, 103 L. Ed. 2d 158, 109 S. Ct. 993 (1989), that in extreme circumstances, it was necessary to do so to ensure free access to the courts in general. Martin, 833 So. 2d at 760 (alterations in original) (quoting Jackson v. Fla. Dep't of Corrections, 790 So. 2d 398, 401 (Fla. 2001)).
Other jurisdictions have also imposed sanctions on litigants who abused the legal system by using profanity. In Washington v. Alaimo, 934 F. Supp. 1395 (S.D. Ga 1996), for example, a federal district court sanctioned an inmate for, among other things, his "Motion to Kiss My A**" in which he moved "all Americans at large and one corrupt Judge Smith to kiss my got dam* a** sorry mother f
The Court stated that Washington had "wasted the time of many an innocent party and had flippantly used the resources of the judiciary with his abusive motions filing practice." Id. at 1397.
Thus, the court concluded that Washington's recreational litigation has gone on for entirely too long and at great expense to the American taxpayer.
Too many resources have been wasted and too many innocent people harassed.
This Court now considers what discretion it has to prevent the future waste of judicial resources. Id. at 1399.
The court then required Washington pay all filing fees for any further actions and post a $ 1300 contempt bond for each case filed.
The bond would be forfeited were Washington to engage in any further contemptuous behavior.
In Werner v. Utah, 32 F.3d 1446 (10th Cir. 1994), the inmate petitioner there had also engaged in much litigation.
However, when court orders or other correspondence were sent to him regarding his litigation, he refused to accept the correspondence and wrote obscenities and threats on the envelopes, which were then returned to the court.
The court there severely restricted Werner's filing abilities.