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LAW AIMS TO HALT INMATES WHO FILE MERITLESS CASES

Prison inmates prone to filing frivolous or unnecessary lawsuits are the target of a new law approved by legislators and Gov. Pataki.

The law sets a fee of $15 to $50 for filing court cases, depending on how much the inmate can afford. The measure also requires inmates to first try to resolve their grievances -- which usually involve matters such as missing personal property -- with the Department of Correctional Services.

A third to one-half of all the trial work in the attorney general's 11 regional offices is related to prisoner lawsuits, most of which are found to be meritless and dismissed by judges, according to a spokesman for Attorney General Eliot Spitzer.

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