Duhaime's Law Dictionary

Pauper's Oath Definition:

An affidavit of indigence, of poverty.

Related Terms: Indigent

An American justice term referring to the affidavit required of an indigent litigant seeking in a civil trial, to be exempted from Court fees or costs and, in a criminal trial, to qualify for the assistance of public defender counsel, who represents the accused but bills the Government for legal fees incurred.

For example, the Tennessee Code at 20-12-132 (published at michie.lexisnexis.com/), headed "Dismissal of Pauper's Action", states:

"If it be made to appear to the court, at any time before the trial, that the allegation of poverty is probably untrue, or the cause of action frivolous or malicious, the action may be dismissed. The burden shall be upon a pauper to justify the pauper's oath."

In Canada or other common law jurisdictions, the application is called an affidavit of inability, an indigency status application or an indigency affidavit.

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