Court's Authority to Refuse to Grant Indigency Status to a Litigant As a Sanction for Abuse of the Court System
In Martin v. Marko, 651 So. 2d 819 (Fla. 4th DCA 1995), the Fourth District Court of Appeal issued an opinion in a writ case censuring Martin for his abusive writ practice and his "scurrilous allegations" against numerous judges. Id. at 821.
There the court had issued an order to Martin to show cause why his petition for leave to proceed without payment of the filing fee should not be denied for that case and prospectively.
In its order to show cause, the court commented on the large number of frivolous appeals and original writ petitions he had filed there.
In 1995, the number there surpassed forty-three filings.
The court also noted that Martin's filings were not only without merit, but included extremely abusive insults directed at numerous non-respondents, public officials, judges and the judicial system as a whole.
The court noted that the "tactic of injecting personal insults into proceedings was first noted by the Illinois Supreme Court as part of the reason for the denial of Martin's admission to the Illinois Bar." Id. at 820 (citing In re Martin-Trigona, 55 Ill. 2d 301, 302 N.E.2d 68 (Ill. 1973), cert. denied, 417 U.S. 909, 41 L. Ed. 2d 212, 94 S.Ct. 2605 (1974)).
The court then found that it had inherent authority to refuse to grant indigency status to a pro se litigant as a sanction, despite his actual financial situation, in extreme situations when the litigant had thoroughly abused the court system.
The court quoted from an opinion of the United States Supreme Court in which that Court had utilized the same procedure. Id. at 821.
In that case, the United States Supreme Court stated:
In order to prevent frivolous petitions for extraordinary relief from unsettling the fair administration of justice, the court has a duty to deny in forma pauperis status to those individuals who have abused the system.