The ACLU of Virginia, along with the ACLU, the ACLU of North Carolina, and the North Carolina Prisoner Legal Services, filed an amicus brief in the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals in support of Appellant-Plaintiff Charlie Hardin.
The district court in which Mr. Hardin initially filed his complaint dismissed his claims due to his failure to exhaust the grievance procedure. Instead of being allowed to amend his complaint, the court's ruling would require Mr. Hardin to file an entirely new suit, forcing him to pay the accompanying filing fee a second time.
The brief underscores the real-world consequences of the district court's decision. Most incarcerated people in the United States face dire economic situations before arrest. After arrest and incarceration, expenses mount as they are assessed fees and costs, and then charged for basic living expenses. As a result, the burden of paying a single filing fee, let alone two, is often extraordinarily high. The brief argues that this economic reality should inform the court's considerations of the question whether the district court should have permitted the incarcerated litigant to supplement his complaint rather than dismissing his claims.