Colorado Legislative Council Staff
NO FISCAL IMPACT
January 2, 1998
Susan Colling (866-4784)
TITLE: CONCERNING PRISONER LAWSUITS
Summary of Assessment
This bill requires state prisoners to exhaust administrative remedies prior to bringing any lawsuit based upon prison conditions under any state statute or constitutional provision. A court would be permitted to dismiss a prisoner’s lawsuit without exhaustion of administrative remedies if it is frivolous, malicious, fails to state a claim, or seeks monetary relief against an immune defendant.
The bill also prohibits a prisoner who has filed 3 or more frivolous lawsuits from filing another lawsuit based on prison conditions. A prisoner in imminent danger and upon written approval by a judge would be permitted to file an action.
Before damages may be awarded for mental or emotional injury, the bill requires that a prisoner’s lawsuit must show a prior showing of a physical injury. Further, it requires that before any monetary award can be paid to the prisoner, all pending court-ordered payments must first be satisfied.
The bill limits the amount of attorney’s fees that may be awarded against a defendant to the following:
∙ amount actually incurred in proving rights violation;
∙ amount proportionately related to the relief ordered or incurred; and
∙ an hourly rate not more than 150% of the amount paid to court-appointed counsel.
The bill requires that when a monetary judgement is awarded, a portion not to exceed 25%, shall be applied to reduce the amount of attorney’s fees awarded against the defendant.
Further, the bill requires that if a state prisoner files an action or appeal without prepaying the filing fee they must do the following:
∙ file verified statements of the prisoner’s trust account for the preceding 6 months;
∙ make initial payment, according to court order, if there is $10 or more in the trust account; and
∙ until the filing fee is paid in full, make monthly payments equal to 20% of the previous month’s deposits in the prisoner’s trust account.
The bill is assessed as having no fiscal impact. There may be an impact on workload for the Department of Corrections, however any increase would be absorbed within existing resources.
Department of Corrections
Department of Law
State Public Defender