PREGERSON, Circuit Judge:
William Noll, a federal prisoner, brought a Bivens-type
The question presented by this appeal is whether the district court adhered to well established procedural requirements before dismissing this civil rights action brought by a pro se plaintiff, who had twice amended his complaint on his own initiative without the assistance of the court's statement of deficiencies. We reverse.
Id. at 837 (footnote omitted).
Five years later in Potter v. McCall, 433 F.2d 1087, 1088 (9th Cir.1970) (per curiam), we restated Armstrong's procedural requirements and, because the district court failed to comply with several of them, we reversed the dismissal of a pro se litigant's civil rights action.
The procedural requirements were again considered in Franklin v. Murphy, 745 F.2d 1221 (9th Cir.1984). There, we observed that in forma pauperis plaintiffs lack sufficient economic deterrents to filing frivolous lawsuits and limited the Armstrong-Potter requirement that a pro se litigant appearing in forma pauperis is entitled to have process served. Id. at 1226-27. In Franklin, we held that the district court may dismiss with prejudice an in forma pauperis complaint before service of process under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(d) when the complaint is frivolous, fails to state a claim, or contains a complete defense to the action on its face. Id. at 1227. We also held that reversal of the district court's dismissal of one of Franklin's claims was necessary because the court did not notify Franklin of the defects in his pleadings and grant leave to amend the complaint. Id. at 1230.
While Fed.R.Civ.P. 15 places leave to amend within the sound discretion of the trial court, we have stressed that a court must remain guided by "the underlying purpose of Rule 15 ... to facilitate decision on the merits, rather than on the pleadings or technicalities." United States v. Webb, 655 F.2d 977, 979 (9th Cir.1981); see also Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 48, 78 S.Ct. 99, 103, 2 L.Ed.2d 80 (1957). A pro se litigant must be given leave to amend his or her complaint unless it is "absolutely clear that the deficiencies of the complaint could not be cured by amendment." Broughton v. Cutter Laboratories, 622 F.2d 458, 460 (9th Cir.1980) (Per Curiam).
The rule favoring liberality in amendments to pleadings is particularly important for the pro se litigant. Presumably unskilled in the law, the pro se litigant is far more prone to making errors in pleading than the person who benefits from the representation of counsel. Indeed, the Supreme Court has held that allegations of a pro se complaint are held to less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers. Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520-21, 92 S.Ct. 594, 595-96, 30 L.Ed.2d 652 (1972) (Per Curiam); see also Maurer v. Individually and as Members of Los Angeles County Sheriff's Dept., 691 F.2d 434, 437 (9th Cir.1982); Gillespie v. Civiletti, 629 F.2d 637, 649 (9th Cir.1980).
The requirement that courts provide a pro se litigant with notice of the deficiencies in his or her complaint helps ensure that the pro se litigant can use the opportunity to amend effectively. Without the benefit of a statement of deficiencies, the pro se litigant will likely repeat previous errors. This is equally true for the pro se litigant who amends his complaint at his own instance without any guidance from the court. Amendments that are made without an understanding of underlying deficiencies are rarely sufficient to cure inadequate pleadings.
We are nevertheless mindful that courts should not have to serve as advocates for pro se litigants. A statement of deficiencies need not provide great detail or
Here although Noll twice amended his complaint, he did so without the benefit of the court notifying him of any deficiencies in his previous pleadings. When the district court dismissed Noll's second amended complaint and the action without leave to amend, it failed to provide a statement of the complaint's deficiencies. Because it is not absolutely clear that Noll could not amend his complaint to allege constitutional violations,
The order of dismissal is therefore reversed, and the matter remanded to the district court to give Noll an opportunity to amend his complaint after notifying him of its defects.
Additionally, Noll alleges that he was unconstitutionally placed in administrative segregation for ten and one-half months without out-door exercise in order to separate him from his "known enemies." Noll may be able to amend his complaint to state a claim for violation of procedural due process, see 28 CFR §§ 541.22(c), (d); Hewitt v. Helms, 459 U.S. 460, 468, 103 S.Ct. 864, 869, 74 L.Ed.2d 675 (1983); Toussaint v. McCarthy, 801 F.2d 1080, 1091-92 (9th Cir.1986), or the eighth amendment, see Toussaint v. Yockey, 722 F.2d 1490, 1492-93 (9th Cir.1984); Franklin v. State of Oregon, 662 F.2d 1337, 1346 (9th Cir.1981); Spain v. Procunier, 600 F.2d 189, 199 (9th Cir.1979).
Finally, Noll makes conclusory allegations of inadequate medical care. It is not absolutely clear that he cannot amend his complaint to show that prison officials acted with deliberate indifference to his serious medical needs. See Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 106, 97 S.Ct. 285, 292, 50 L.Ed.2d 251 (1976); Toussaint v. McCarthy, 801 F.2d at 1111.