D. MAXWELL II, JUSTICE.
matter is before the Court, en banc, on Gregory Dunn's
letter motion. Dunn was convicted of murder, among other
crimes, and sentenced to life. In l997, the Court affirmed
Dunn's convictions and sentences. Dunn v. State,
693 So.2d 1333 (Miss. 1997). Thus, the present filing is time
barred. Dunn has filed multiple applications for
post-conviction relief, making the present claim procedurally
barred. See Dunn v. State, 2016-M-01514; Dunn v.
now raises an illegal-sentence claim, arguing the trial court
was not allowed to impose a life sentence upon him without a
jury recommendation. Although an illegal-sentence claim may
be excepted from the procedural bars, Dunn fails to raise an
arguable basis for his claim to justify an exception. See
Means v. State, 43 So.3d 438, 442 (Miss. 20l0);
Kennedy v. State, 732 So.2d 184, 187 (Miss. 1999).
Accordingly, the Court finds the current motion should be
dismissed as procedurally barred.
further find that Dunn's application is frivolous. Dunn
is hereby warned that any future filings deemed frivolous may
result not only in additional monetary sanctions, but also in
restrictions on filing applications for post-conviction
collateral relief (or pleadings in that nature) in forma
pauperis. See En Banc Order, Fairley v.
State, 2014-M-01185 (Miss. May 3, 2018) (citing Order,
Bownes v. State, 2014-M-00478 (Miss. Sept. 20,
at this time we issue a warning only, imposing monetary
sanctions for frivolous filings and denying leave to proceed
in forma pauperis is consistent with this Court's
precedent. Ivy v. State, 688 So.2d 223, 224 (Miss.
1997) (sanctioning the petitioner "$250 for having filed
a frivolous petition in this Court" and prohibiting the
petitioner "from filing any matter in forma pauperis in
any court of this state, without the prior permission of this
Court, until he shall have paid the sanction here
imposed"). It is also in line with the Fifth
Circuit's approach. United States v. Kates, 736
Fed.Appx. 86 (5th Cir. Aug. 31, 2018) (denying previously
sanctioned prisoner's request for in forma pauperis
status); Order, In re Jackson, No. 17-90005 (5th
Cir. Aug. 22, 2017) (reminding petitioner "that he is
barred from filing any pleadings in . . . any court subject
to [the Fifth Circuit's] jurisdiction until the
[previously imposed $100] sanction has been paid" and
cautioning him "that the filing of additional meritless
pleadings will subject him to additional and progressively
more severe sanctions"); Green v. Carlson, 649
F.2d 285, 286 (5th Cir. 1981) ("commend[ing] the
contempt sanction to any panel" upon which Green sought
to impose through his frivolous filings, "advanced in
forma pauperis"). And denying in forma pauperis status
to frivolous petitioners is also consistent with United
States Supreme Court practice. Sup. Ct. R. 39.8 ("If
satisfied that a petition for writ of certiorari,
jurisdictional statement, or petition for an extraordinary
writ is frivolous or malicious, the Court may deny leave to
proceed in forma pauperis.").
in issuing this warning is not to bar future access to the
courts. But, as this Court has held before, Mississippi's
constitutional right of access to its courts is not without
bounds. Thomas v. Warden, 999 So.2d 842, 846 (Miss.
2008) (discussing Miss. Const. art. 3, § 24). See
also Duncan v. Johnson, 14 So.3d 760, 765 (Miss. Ct.
App. 2009) ("The Mississippi Constitution does not
create an unlimited right of access to the courts.").
Section 24 protects "a reasonable right of access to the
courts-a reasonable opportunity to be heard."
Thomas, 999 So.2d at 846. "No one, rich or
poor, is [constitutionally] entitled to abuse the judicial
process." Duncan, 14 So.3d at 765 (quoting
Tripati v. Beaman, 878 F.2d 351, 353 (10th Cir.
1989)). Of course, "Courts must carefully observe the
fine line between legitimate restraints and an impermissible
restriction on a prisoner's constitutional right of
access to the courts." Id. (quoting Procup
v. Strickland, 792 F.2d 1069, 1072 (11th Cir. 1986)). We
find that warning Dunn that any future frivolous
filing may result in monetary sanctions or restrictions on
his ability to proceed in forma pauperis is by no means
unreasonable and, thus, does not impermissibly cross the
constitutional line. As the United States Supreme Court has
acknowledged, "Pro se petitioners have a
greater capacity than most to disrupt the fair allocation of
judicial resources because they are not subject to the
financial considerations-filing fees and attorney's
fees-that deter other litigants from filing frivolous
petitions." In re Sindram, 498 U.S. 177, 180,
111 S.Ct. 596, 597, 112 L.Ed.2d 599 (1991) (citing In re
McDonald, 489 U.S. 180, 184, 109 S.Ct. 993, 996, 103
L.Ed.2d 158 (1989)).
is vital that the right to file in forma pauperis
not be encumbered by those who would abuse the integrity of
our process by frivolous filings." Zatko v.
California, 502 U.S. 16, 18, 112 S.Ct. 355, 356, 116
L.Ed.2d 293 (1991) (quoting In re Amendment to Rule
39, 500 U.S. 13, 13, 111 S.Ct. 1572, 1573, 114 L.Ed.2d
15 (1991)). While we do not deny Dunn leave to proceed in
forma pauperis at this time, we do warn that any future
filing deemed frivolous may subject him to sanctions and
restrictions on his future ability to proceed in forma
THEREFORE ORDERED that Dunn's letter motion is hereby
WALLER, C.J., RANDOLPH, P.J., COLEMAN, MAXWELL, BEAM,
CHAMBERLIN AND ISHEE, JJ.
KITCHENS, P.J., OBJECTING TO THE ORDER IN PART WITH SEPARATE
I agree with the Court's decision to dismiss Gregory
Dunn's application for leave to file a motion for
post-conviction relief (PCR). But I join Justice King's
separate statement and I write separately because this
Court's decision to impose upon PCR applicants either a
monetary sanction or a warning that future filings might
result in monetary sanctions violates Mississippi's
constitutional guarantees that all citizens will have access
to the courts of this State and that our courts shall be open
for the redress of grievances. Article 3, Section 24, of the
Mississippi Constitution provides that "[a]ll courts
shall be open; and every person for an injury done him in his
lands, goods, person, or reputation, shall have remedy by due
course of law, and right and justice shall be administered
without sale, denial, or delay." Miss Const. Art 3,
Section 24. Article 3, Section 25, provides that "[n]o
person shall be debarred from prosecuting or defending any
civil cause for or against him or herself, before any
tribunal in the state, by him or herself, or counsel, or
both." Miss. Const. Art. 3, Section 25.
Further, motions for post-conviction relief are civil actions
to which the Mississippi Rules of Civil Procedure apply
unless the Uniform Post-Conviction Collateral Relief Act
provides otherwise. Sykes v. State, 757 So.2d 997,
999 (Miss. 2000). Rule 11 of the Mississippi Rules of Civil
Procedure provides for the imposition of sanctions on
litigants for frivolous filings. M.R.C.P. 11(b). Also, the
Litigation Accountability Act authorizes sanctions for a
filing that is "without substantial justification,"
which is defined as "frivolous, groundless in fact or in
law, or vexatious, as determined by the court." Miss.
Code Ann. § 11-55-3(a) (Rev. 2012). Under Rule 11, a
claim is frivolous if it has no hope of success and its
insufficiency is manifest to the court from a bare
inspection, without argument or research. In re Estate of
Smith, 69 So.3d 1, 6 (Miss. 2011). Because the
insufficiency of Dunn's illegal sentence claim is not
apparent from a bare inspection, it is not frivolous. This
Court's decision to sanction those prisoners filing