Legal Dictionary

in forma pauperis

Definition of in forma pauperis


in forma pauperis

  1. In the form of a pauper.


in forma pauperis (uncountable)

  1. (law) A request to have a court waive filing fees in a civil action because the plaintiff is a pauper.

Further reading

In forma pauperis (IFP or i.f.p.) is a legal term derived from the Latin phrase in the character or manner of a pauper.[1] In the United States, the IFP designation is given by both state and federal courts to someone who is without the funds to pursue the normal costs of a lawsuit or a criminal defense.[1] The status is usually granted by a judge without a hearing, and entitles the person to a waiver of normal costs, and sometimes in criminal cases the appointment of counsel. While court imposed costs such as filing fees are waived, the litigant is still responsible for other costs incurred in bringing the action such as deposition and witness fees.

Approximately two-thirds of writ of certiorari petitions to the Supreme Court are filed in forma pauperis.[2][3] Most of those petitioners are prisoners.[2] Petitions that appear on the Supreme Court's in forma pauperis docket are substantially less likely to be granted review than those on the paid docket.[4]

IFP status is usually granted in connection to pro se petitioners, but the two concepts are separate and distinct.


  1. a b Black's Law Dictionary (5th ed.). West Publishing. 1979. p. 701. ISBN 0-8299-2041-2.
  2. a b Wrightsman, Lawrence S. (2006). The Psychology of the Supreme Court. USA: Oxford University Press. p. 60. ISBN 019530604X.
  3. Stephens, Otis H.; Scheb, John M. (2002). American Constitutional Law. Thomson Wadsworth. ISBN 053454570X.
  4. Thompson, David C.; Wachtell, Melanie F. (2009). "An Empirical Analysis of Supreme Court Certiorari Petition Procedures". George Mason University Law Review 16 (2): 237, 241.


  1. Wiktionary. Published under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.


1.     quorum
2.     scienter
3.     AORO
4.     lex causae
5.     lex patriae
6.     adjudication order
7.     Miranda warning
8.     appellant
9.     lex domicilii
10.     lex fori