- Dear Abby
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The May 2 letter, "Community work obligation for legal help wrong," opposing court fee waiver reform is misplaced. The court fee waiver gives indigents substantially greater court access.
Judith Fusari filed 136 separate lawsuits and 58 appeals, from 2009-2012, all dismissed. The taxpayers financed her filings, totaling over $50,000 in waived filing fees. She filed a lawsuit because she did not get a senior discount on a $2 bus fare. The reform allows a judge to order serial filers to perform up to 20 hours of community service to dissuade frivolous lawsuits.
A court can already order an indigent to sell assets such as jewelry. Why can't a court equally order community service?
The reform would not apply to most fee waiver applicants because it is targeted at serial frivolous filers. It avoids having judges dismiss cases without the benefit of discovery in favor of encouraging an indigent to self-regulate the merits of their cases.
There is no case that has ever held that money is the exclusive form of payment for court fees. The present system is discriminatory in that indigents have greater court access, diverting resources away from the poor when those resources are wasted on defending against frivolous lawsuits.