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Case Name Powers v. Hamilton County Public Defender Commission JC-OH-0015
Docket / Court 1:02-cv-00605-SAS -TSB ( S.D. Ohio )
State/Territory Ohio
Case Type(s) Jail Conditions
Case Summary
On August 21, 2002, Plaintiff filed a lawsuit under § 1983 against the Hamilton County Public Defender Commission in the United States Court for the Southern District of Ohio. The plaintiff, represented by private counsel, asked the court for damages, claiming that he had been unconstitutionally ... read more >
On August 21, 2002, Plaintiff filed a lawsuit under § 1983 against the Hamilton County Public Defender Commission in the United States Court for the Southern District of Ohio. The plaintiff, represented by private counsel, asked the court for damages, claiming that he had been unconstitutionally incarcerated. Specifically, the plaintiff claimed that he had been unconstitutionally subjected to jail time because his public defender failed to request an indigency hearing.

Plaintiff's claims stem from his original arrest and conviction for drunk driving. As a result of that conviction, Plaintiff was put on probation, given a suspended jail sentence, and fined. Plaintiff was subsequently arrested and incarcerated for failure to pay the fine associated with his original sentence. Plaintiff claimed that this incarceration was unconstitutional because he was unable to pay the fine, and his attorney never requested an indigency hearing to allow Plaintiff to show he was unable to pay the fine. In short, Plaintiff claimed that he and others were unconstitutionally incarcerated because Defendant made it a practice to not request indigency hearings.

On August 30, 2005, the Court (Judge S. Arthur Spiegel) certified a class action. Powers v. Hamilton County Public Defender Commission, 2005 WL 2033696 (S.D.O.H. Aug. 30, 2005). The class consisted of all those persons who were incarcerated without an indigency hearing.

On February 7, 2006, the Court granted, in part, Plaintiffs' motion for summary judgment on liability, to the extend it found relief appropriate for those who fell within the modified class definition. The Court stayed consideration of Plaintiffs' motion for summary judgment on damages.

The Court issued final judgment in the case on March 24, 2006. In the order, the Court modified the class definition to include "all persons who, without an indigency hearing, were committed to the custody of a Hamilton County correctional facility by a Hamilton County municipal or common please court from August 21, 2000, to the present in satisfaction of a fine and/or court costs, including persons who violated probation following a "stay to pay" sentence. Further, the order required Defendant to provide class notice at its expense and allowed Class Counsel to file for attorneys' fees and costs. Defendants indicated they intended to appeal the judgment.

On August 29, 2008, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals (Judge R. Guy Cole, Jr.) affirmed the District Court's ruling that Plaintiff's § 1983 claims are cognizable, and affirmed the grant of class certification. However, the Sixth Circuit reversed the District Court's grant of summary judgment to Plaintiff and remanded for further proceedings. Powers v. Hamilton Cty. Pub. Defenders Comm'n, 501 F.3d 592 (6th Cir. 2008).

On April 29, 2009, the District Court (Judge S. Arthur Spiegel) issued an order certifying a class for the purposes of settlement, preliminarily approving settlement, and approving notice to the class members.

The Court issued a final order approving class action, approving settlement, and approving distribution of payment to class members, and dismissing all claims with prejudice, on June 17, 2009.

The case was closed in 2009 and there has been no further action.

Haley Waller - 11/17/2010


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Defendant(s) Hamilton County Public Defender Commission
Hamilton County, OH
John Dowlin
Office of the Public Defender of Hamilton County
Phillip Heimlich
Sheriff Simon L Leis, Jr
Todd Portune, Commissioner
Plaintiff Description Individuals who had faced incarceration as a result of a failure to pay a fine, and whose public defender failed to request an indigency hearing.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations None on record
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted Yes
Prevailing Party Mixed
Public Int. Lawyer No
Nature of Relief Unknown
Source of Relief Settlement
Form of Settlement Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree
Order Duration not on record
Case Closing Year 2009
Case Ongoing No
Additional Resources
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Case Studies After Decision: Implementation of Judicial Decrees in Correctional Settings
Written: Oct. 01, 1977
By: M. Kay Harris & Dudley P. Spiller (Temple University)
Citation: (1977)
[ Detail ] [ PDF ]

Docket(s)
1:02-cv-00605-SAS -TSB (S.D. Ohio) 07/20/2009
JC-OH-0015-9000.pdf | Detail
PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
ORDER (certifying class) 08/23/2005 (2005 WL 2033696) (S.D. Ohio)
JC-OH-0015-0007.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
INDIVIDUAL AND CLASS MOTION FOR PARTIAL SUMMARY JUDGMENT 08/30/2005
JC-OH-0015-0008.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
CONSOLIDATED RESPONSE TO PLAINTIFF’S MOTIONS FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT 10/07/2005
JC-OH-0015-0002.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
PLAINTIFF’S REPLY MEMORANDUM IN SUPPORT OF MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT 10/17/2005
JC-OH-0015-0009.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
OPINION AND ORDER 02/07/2006 (S.D. Ohio)
JC-OH-0015-0005.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
MEMORANDUM ON ISSUES RELATED TO DAMAGES SUBMITTED BY REMAINING COUNTY DEFENDANTS 03/14/2006
JC-OH-0015-0001.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
FINAL JUDGMENT 03/24/2006 (S.D. Ohio)
JC-OH-0015-0003.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
OPINION 08/29/2007 (501 F.3d 592)
JC-OH-0015-0010.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Google Scholar
ORDER CERTIFYING A CLASS ACTION. PRELIMINARILY APPROVING SETTLEMENT AND APPROVING FORMS AND DISTRIBUTION OF NOTICE TO THE CLASS MEMBERS 04/30/2009 (S.D. Ohio)
JC-OH-0015-0006.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
FINAL ORDER APPROVING CLASS ACTION, APPROVING SETTLEMENT, APPROVING DISTRIBUTION OF PAYMENT TO CLASS MEMBERS, AND DISMISSING ALL CLAIMS WITH PREJUDICE 06/17/2009 (S.D. Ohio)
JC-OH-0015-0004.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges Cole, Ransey Guy Jr. (Sixth Circuit)
JC-OH-0015-0010 | JC-OH-0015-9000
Spiegel, S. Arthur (S.D. Ohio)
JC-OH-0015-0003 | JC-OH-0015-0004 | JC-OH-0015-0005 | JC-OH-0015-0006 | JC-OH-0015-0007 | JC-OH-0015-9000
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers Felson, Stephen R. (Ohio)
JC-OH-0015-0004 | JC-OH-0015-0008 | JC-OH-0015-0009 | JC-OH-0015-9000
Meeks, Lisa T. (Ohio)
JC-OH-0015-0008 | JC-OH-0015-9000
Newman, Robert B. (Ohio)
JC-OH-0015-0004 | JC-OH-0015-0008 | JC-OH-0015-0009 | JC-OH-0015-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Deters, Joseph T. (Ohio)
JC-OH-0015-0001 | JC-OH-0015-0002 | JC-OH-0015-9000
Sears, Pamela J. (Ohio)
JC-OH-0015-0001 | JC-OH-0015-9000
Stevenson, David T. (Ohio)
JC-OH-0015-0001 | JC-OH-0015-0002 | JC-OH-0015-0004 | JC-OH-0015-9000
Other Lawyers None on record

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