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What does "in forma pauperis" mean in legal terms?

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casykora | (Level 1) eNoter

Posted January 26, 2010 at 9:46 AM via web

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What does "in forma pauperis" mean in legal terms?

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted January 26, 2010 at 10:01 AM (Answer #1)

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This term refers to a procedure by which someone can file a law suit even if they do not have the money to pay the filing fees that usually go with filing a law suit.

This does not mean that the government pays for the lawyer (the government is only required to pay for a lawyer in criminal cases).  What it does mean is that the petitioner does not have to pay the usual fees.

A lot of petitions come to the Supreme Court and other appellate courts in this way.  Most of those come from prisoners who are trying to appeal something about their convictions.

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