Montana Code Annotated 2021



Part 4. Officers' Fees, Prepayment

Poor Persons Not Required To Prepay Fees -- Definition

25-10-404. Poor persons not required to prepay fees -- definition. (1) Except as provided in subsections (3) and (6), a person may request a waiver of fees by filing an affidavit, supported by a financial statement, stating that the person has a good cause of action or defense and is unable to pay the costs or procure security to secure the cause of action or defense. Except as provided in subsections (2) and (6), upon issuance of an order of the court or administrative tribunal approving a request for waiver of fees, the person may commence and prosecute or defend an action in any of the courts and administrative tribunals of this state and the officers of the courts and administrative tribunals shall issue and serve all writs and perform all services in the action without demanding or receiving their fees in advance, except the fees under 25-1-201(1)(d) and (1)(r).

(2) If a judge or presiding officer of an administrative tribunal is not available to approve a request for a waiver of fees prior to filing a pleading, the pleading must be filed subject to subsequent approval. If the request is subsequently denied, the fees must be paid before the case may proceed further.

(3) A person represented by an entity that provides free legal services to indigent persons is not required to file the financial statement required by subsection (1).

(4) The department of justice shall, by rule, prescribe the form of the financial statement required by subsection (1) for use in determining indigence. The form may require the disclosure of income and assets, including but not limited to the ownership of real and personal property, cash, and savings.

(5) A prisoner in the legal custody of the department of corrections who files a complaint or appeals a judgment in a civil action or proceeding without prepaying the required fees or security shall, in addition to filing the affidavit required in subsection (1), submit a certified copy of the prisoner's trust fund account statement, obtained from the facility in which the prisoner is confined, for the 6-month period immediately preceding any filing.

(6) If an indigent prisoner in the legal custody of the department of corrections files a civil complaint or an appeal from a civil judgment, the prisoner shall pay the total cost of the filing fee. If a prisoner is unable to pay the total filing fee, the court shall order the prisoner to make partial payments of any fees required by law when funds exist. The court shall consider the indigence policy of the department when determining whether funds exist.

(7) A prisoner may not be prohibited from filing a civil complaint or appealing a civil judgment or criminal conviction because of lack of assets or money to pay the initial partial filing fee. The court shall dismiss an action if the prisoner fails to pay either the partial or full amount of the filing fee as ordered by the court.

(8) As used in this section, "prisoner" means a person who is convicted of, sentenced for, or adjudicated delinquent for violations of criminal law or the terms and conditions of parole, probation, or a diversionary program and who is subject to incarceration, detention, or admission to any facility.

History: En. Sec. 2, p. 71, L. 1869; re-en. Sec. 563, p. 150, Cod. Stat. 1871; amd. Sec. 1, p. 40, Ex. L. 1873; amd. Sec. 503, p. 173, L. 1877; re-en. Sec. 503, 1st Div. Rev. Stat. 1879; re-en. Sec. 516, 1st Div. Comp. Stat. 1887; re-en. Sec. 1873, C. Civ., Proc. 1895; re-en. Sec. 7176, Rev. C. 1907; re-en. Sec. 9809, R.C.M. 1921; re-en. Sec. 9809, R.C.M. 1935; amd. Sec. 1, Ch. 71, L. 1971; amd. Sec. 1, Ch. 90, L. 1973; R.C.M. 1947, 93-8625; amd. Sec. 1, Ch. 447, L. 1993; amd. Sec. 3, Ch. 475, L. 1997; amd. Sec. 3, Ch. 344, L. 2013.