University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
new search
page permalink
Case Name Stinson v. Fulton County PD-GA-0001
Docket / Court 1-94-CV-240-GET ( N.D. Ga. )
State/Territory Georgia
Case Type(s) Indigent Defense
Attorney Organization Southern Center for Human Rights
Case Summary
On January 28, 1994, a man incarcerated at the Fulton County Jail filed a class action lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. §1983 against the Fulton County public defender program, in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia. The plaintiff, represented by court-appointed counsel and ... read more >
On January 28, 1994, a man incarcerated at the Fulton County Jail filed a class action lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. §1983 against the Fulton County public defender program, in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia. The plaintiff, represented by court-appointed counsel and attorneys from the Southern Center for Human Rights, sought declaratory and injunctive relief from violations of his rights as secured by the Sixth Amendment, the Equal Protection Clause, the Due Process Clause, and the Georgia Constitution. Specifically, Plaintiff alleged that Fulton County knowingly under-funded its indigent defense program, and that it denied indigent defendants access to counsel during critical parts of trial.

On June 30, 1994, the defendants submitted a motion to dismiss the case. On September 15, 1994, the District Court (Judge Julie E. Carnes on behalf of Judge G. E. Tidwell) granted the motion as to the plaintiff's state law claim, but denied the motion as to the federal constitutional claims. On November 29, 1994, the plaintiffs submitted a motion to certify the case as a class action. The parties engaged in several months of discovery on this issue. On December 21, 1995, the Court (Judge Tidwell) signed a consent order that allowed the plaintiffs to conduct interviews at Fulton County Jail as part of the class certification process.

On June 13, 1996, the District Court (Judge Tidwell) certified a class composed of "[a]ll persons charged with non-homicide felony offenses within Fulton County who are not released on bond but who, instead, are incarcerated at the Fulton County Jail, and who, during the period up to, but not including, indictment or arraignment, are denied access to counsel." On June 28, 1996, the defendants petitioned the Court for reconsideration of its order certifying a class, and asked that the Court certify the question to the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals. Judge Tidwell denied these motions on August 26, 1996.

Both parties filed motions for summary judgment on February 3, 1997. The District Court (Judge Tidwell) denied both motions on July 24, 1997. On August 15, 1997, the defendants submitted a motion for a protective order to prevent plaintiffs' counsel from interviewing class members in private; on September 4, 1997, Judge Tidwell denied this motion

The parties soon entered into a series of mediation conferences with Magistrate Judge John R. Strother Jr.

On May 21, 1999, the District Court (Judge Tidwell) signed a Consent Order of settlement, and administratively terminated the case. In the Consent Order, the defendants acknowledged the need to hire more attorneys and promised to make good-faith efforts to ensure that indigent, non-homicide felony offenders would be afforded speedy consultations by trained legal staff. The Order also established average annual caseloads for the public defender program. The Order included a three-year period of semi-annual reports to ensure that the agreement was being properly implemented.

All six reports were filed, and it appears that the case sat otherwise inactive in the intervening years.

On June 17, 2005, the plaintiffs submitted a motion to amend several paragraphs of the 1999 Consent Order to conform to the Georgia Indigent Defense Act of 2003, and standards promulgated by the Public Defender Standard Council, which afforded more comprehensive and specific rights to indigent defendants than the language of the 1999 Order. Fulton County responded that it had no objection to the motion, and the District Court (Judge Tidwell) granted the motion on July 27, 2005.

The docket indicates no further activity in this case.

Nick Niles - 07/10/2007


compress summary

- click to show/hide ALL -
Issues and Causes of Action
click to show/hide detail
Issues
General
Funding
Quality of representation
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Causes of Action State law
42 U.S.C. § 1983
Defendant(s) Fulton County
Plaintiff Description All persons charged with non-homicide felony offenses within Fulton County who are not released on bond but who, instead, are incarcerated at the Fulton County Jail, and who, during the period up to indictment are denied access to counsel
Indexed Lawyer Organizations Southern Center for Human Rights
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted Yes
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Damages
Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Settlement
Form of Settlement Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree
Order Duration 1999 - 2002
Case Closing Year 2005
Case Ongoing No
Additional Resources
click to show/hide detail
Case Studies Indigent Defense Reform: The Role of Systemic Litigation in Operationalizing the Gideon Right to Counsel
Written: May. 07, 2007
By: Vidhya K. Reddy (Washington University in St. Louis)
[ Detail ] [ PDF ]

  Justice Denied: America's Continuing Neglect of Our Constitutional Right to Counsel.
Written: Apr. 14, 2009
By: National Right to Counsel Committee (The Constitution Project)
Citation: National Right to Counsel Committee, Justice Denied: America's Continuing Neglect of Our Constitutional Right to Counsel (2009)
[ Detail ] [ PDF ] [ External Link ]

  Securing Reasonable Caseloads: Ethics and Law in Public Defense
By: Norman Lefstein (Indiana University--Indianapolis)
Citation: (ABA 2011)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

  The Third Generation of Indigent Defense Litigation
New York University Review of Law and Social Change
By: Cara Drinan (Columbus School of Law, Catholic University)
Citation: 33 N.Y.U. Rev. L. & Soc. Change 427 (2009)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

Docket(s)
1:94-cv-00240-GET (N.D. Ga.) 08/30/2005
PD-GA-0001-9000.pdf | Detail
PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Amended Complaint - Class Action 05/01/1994
PD-GA-0001-0006.pdf | Detail
Consent Order 05/21/1999
PD-GA-0001-0001.pdf | Detail
Motion to Amend Consent Order 06/17/2005
PD-GA-0001-0002.pdf | Detail
Defendants' Response to Plaintiff's Motion to Amend Consent Order 07/25/2005
PD-GA-0001-0004.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order [Re: Motion to Amend Consent Order] 07/27/2005 (N.D. Ga.)
PD-GA-0001-0003.pdf | Detail
Order [Re: Motion to Amend Consent Order] 07/27/2005 (N.D. Ga.)
PD-GA-0001-0005.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges Feldman, Joel Martin (N.D. Ga.) [Magistrate]
PD-GA-0001-9000
Strother, John R. Jr. (N.D. Ga.) [Magistrate]
PD-GA-0001-9000
Tidwell, George Ernest (N.D. Ga.)
PD-GA-0001-0001 | PD-GA-0001-0003 | PD-GA-0001-0005 | PD-GA-0001-9000
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers Bensing, Robert F. (Georgia)
PD-GA-0001-9000
Bright, Stephen B. (Georgia)
PD-GA-0001-0002 | PD-GA-0001-9000
Curia , Lisa Ann (Georgia)
PD-GA-0001-0006 | PD-GA-0001-9000
Maloy, W. Bruce (Georgia)
PD-GA-0001-0001 | PD-GA-0001-0002 | PD-GA-0001-0006 | PD-GA-0001-9000
Toone, Robert E. Jr. (Georgia)
PD-GA-0001-0001 | PD-GA-0001-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Allen, Elizabeth F. (Georgia)
PD-GA-0001-9000
Brantley, Overtis Hicks (Georgia)
PD-GA-0001-0001 | PD-GA-0001-0002 | PD-GA-0001-0004 | PD-GA-0001-9000
Dancy, Rolesia Butler (Georgia)
PD-GA-0001-0004 | PD-GA-0001-9000
Ernstes, Viviane H. (Georgia)
PD-GA-0001-9000
Hartwig, Susan M. (Georgia)
PD-GA-0001-9000
Hicks, Charles George (Georgia)
PD-GA-0001-9000
Rosenberg, Steven E. (Georgia)
PD-GA-0001-0004 | PD-GA-0001-9000
Rothman, Stephen (Georgia)
PD-GA-0001-9000
Starkey, Rory K. (Georgia)
PD-GA-0001-9000
Turner, William Randall (Georgia)
PD-GA-0001-9000
Other Lawyers None on record

- click to show/hide ALL -

new search
page permalink

- top of page -