support of their position, petitioners point to the cover letter addressed to the Clerk which is dated April 22, 1996.
The Court agrees that reconsideration is appropriate in this case. The date the habeas corpus petition and the request for IFP status were delivered to the prison authorities, and not the date of the actual filing of the papers with the Clerk, is the date on which the petition and the request for IFP status should be deemed filed.
In Houston v. Lack, 487 U.S. 266, 108 S. Ct. 2379, 101 L. Ed. 2d 245 (1988), the Supreme Court, interpreting federal rule of appellate procedure 4(a), held that a pro se prisoner's notice of appeal in a habeas corpus case was filed at the moment it was delivered to the prison authorities for forwarding to the district court, and not on the date it was filed in the Clerk's office. Id. at 273-76, 108 S. Ct. at 2384-85. The Supreme Court pointed to the special circumstances attendant to a prisoner proceeding pro se who must rely on the mail to file documents and who cannot travel to the Clerk's office to do the filing in person as a basis for its decision. Id., 108 S. Ct. at 2384.
In In re Flanagan, 999 F.2d 753 (3d Cir. 1993), the Third Circuit applied the Houston rationale to the late filing of a notice of appeal from an order entered in a bankruptcy proceeding, by an inmate who had delivered the notice to the prison authorities within the time provided by the rule. The Court held that under Bankruptcy Rule 8002(a), just as under Appellate Rule 4(a), "when a pro se prisoner deposits his notice of appeal with prison authorities, addressed to the clerk of court with postage prepaid, it is deemed filed at that moment . . . a showing of delay on the part of prison officials is not necessary." Id. at 759.
The rule that "the prison mail room [is] an adjunct of the clerk's office without regard to whether there has been an allegation of actual delay", id., applies here with equal force.
An important rationale for the rule is that once an inmate delivers legal papers to the prison authorities, the inmate has no power to dictate what happens to the papers. Cf. Urrutia v. Harrisburg County Police Dept., 91 F.3d 451, 1996 WL 420799 at *8, *11 n.13 (3d Cir. 1996) (holding that 120 day period of Fed. R. Civ. P. 15(c)(3) for satisfying requirements for relation back of amendment changing or adding party is suspended, once a plaintiff submits original IFP complaint, until 1915(a) IFP and 1915(d) frivolity determinations are made, reasoning that "[an] in forma pauperis plaintiff should not be charged with the delay inherent in this process, because it is entirely within the control of the magistrate judge and/or district judge"). A corollary, therefore, is that whether an inmate has satisfied the filing requirements must be examined in light of the requirements in effect at the time he or she delivers the legal papers to the prison authorities and not as of a later date, since after delivery to the prison authorities, the prisoner has no power to effectuate the filing of the papers at the Clerk's office.
In this case the inmates delivered their petition and request for IFP status to the prison authorities on April 22, 1996. On that date the habeas petition and request for IFP status were in compliance with applicable law. That additional legal requirements went into effect four days after petitioners delivered their legal papers for filing to the prison authorities is of no moment to the case.
In conclusion, the Court finds that (1) the financial disclosure requirements of the Prison Litigation Reform Act are applicable to petitions for habeas corpus relief filed by state inmates and (2) the date that a habeas corpus petition is deemed filed is the date the inmate delivers the petition to the prison authorities and not the date the petition is physically filed with the Clerk of the Court.
An appropriate Order shall be entered.
AND NOW, this 28th day of August 1996, upon consideration of petitioners' motion for reconsideration (doc. no. 9), it is hereby ORDERED that the motion is GRANTED. It is FURTHER ORDERED as follows:
1. Petitioners shall be PERMITTED to proceed in forma pauperis; and
2. Petitioners having claimed that the instant case is related to the case of Austin v. Pennsylvania Dept. of Corrections, 876 F. Supp. 1437, 90 CV 7497, the case is REFERRED to the Chief Judge for REASSIGNMENT to the Calendar of the Honorable Jan E. DuBois. See Local Rule 40.1(c)(2).
AND IT IS SO ORDERED.
EDUARDO C. ROBRENO, J.