I noted last month that Connecticut was considering compelling those unable to pay civil filing fees to work up to 20 hours of community service. HB 6692 would have amended existing law to provide a person who could not pay due to indigence could be be compelled to work.
If the court waives such fee, fees or the cost of service of process, the court may, in connection with the granting of such fee waiver, order that the person participate in a program of community service, as set forth in section 2 of this act, for a period of time not to exceed twenty hours. In determining whether to order a person to participate in a program of community service, the court shall consider the person’s ability to perform community service and prior compliance with any order to participate in a program of community service.
The avowed purpose according to news reports was to stop frivolous lawsuits.
After an April 15 hearing the bill was effectively rewritten with all references to community service removed (additions to existing 52-259b(c) are underlined):
(c) Nothing in this section shall preclude the court from (1) finding that a person whose income does not meet the criteria of subsection (b) of this section is indigent and unable to pay a fee or fees or the cost of service of process, or (2) denying an application for the waiver of the payment of a fee or fees or the cost of service of process when the court finds that (A) the applicant has repeatedly filed actions with respect to the same or similar matters and such filings establish an extended pattern of filings that have been so without merit as to be deemed frivolous and an abuse of judicial process, (B) the application before the court is consistent with the applicant’s previous pattern of frivolous filings, (C) the application is sought in connection with an action that, on its face, fails to state a cognizable claim for which relief may be granted and would likely be dismissed by the court as frivolous, and (D) the granting of such application would constitute an egregious misuse of Judicial Branch resources. If an application for the waiver of the payment of a fee or fees or the cost of service of process is denied, the court clerk shall, upon the request of the applicant, schedule a hearing on the application.
The amended bill was approved 44-1 in the Joint Committee on the Judiciary on April 19.