A typology of the frivolous: Varying meanings of frivolity in section 1983 prisoner civil rights litigation

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Abstract

In the last few years, the popular press, judges, state attorneys general, and legal scholars have raised concerns about the frivolus nature of lawsuits filed in federal court by inmates in state and local custodies under 42 U.S.C. Section 1983. An ethnographic content analysis of a random sample of 200 cases filed in 1994 in the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona demonstrates that the label "frivolous" is used in different ways by various stakeholders in the civil justice system. A typology of differing conceptualizations of frivolous cases is explored, and the sociolegal and public policy implications of the findings are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)465-491
Number of pages27
JournalPrison Journal
Volume78
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 1 1998
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Law

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