In forma pauperis is a Latin term meaning "in the manner of a pauper." A suit brought in forma pauperis allows a poor person to bring suit without incurring the costs of the suit.
Proceeding in forma pauperis is not a right, and is subject to the discretion of the court. Courts are authorized to allow plaintiffs to file suit in forma pauperis by 28 U.S. Code §1915. Bringing a suit in forma pauperis is available for both district court claims and appeals.
In forma pauperis suits are most commonly brought by prisoners; however, due to 28 U.S. Code §1915 (g), a prisoner is prohibited from filing in forma pauperis if they had previously filed three unsuccessful in forma pauperis lawsuits which were dismissed for being malicious, frivolous, or failing to state a claim.
[Last updated in January of 2023 by the Wex Definitions Team]