University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
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Case Name Burdette v. Town of Harpersville, Alabama CJ-AL-0005
Docket / Court CV-2010-900183 ( State Court )
State/Territory Alabama
Case Type(s) Criminal Justice (Other)
Case Summary
In 2010, four people formerly jailed by the town of Harpersville brought suit against the town and the private probation company Judicial Correctional Services, Inc. (JCS), in Alabama state court, challenging the city's failure to provide adequate counsel to poor defendants, failure to hold ... read more >
In 2010, four people formerly jailed by the town of Harpersville brought suit against the town and the private probation company Judicial Correctional Services, Inc. (JCS), in Alabama state court, challenging the city's failure to provide adequate counsel to poor defendants, failure to hold hearings before imposing fines, setting of unreasonable bond amounts, and automatically incarcerating indigent defendants for failure to pay fines and costs, including "monitoring fees" charged by a private probation company contracted by the city to collect fines.

On July 11, 2012, the circuit court of Shelby County, Alabama (Judge Hub Harrington) granted the plaintiffs' motion for a temporary restraining order, prohibiting the city from incarcerating anyone who: is subject to post-conviction proceedings, has received a suspended sentence; or has been placed on probation, without first getting the court's (Judge Harrington's) permission. The judge called the municipal court system "a debtors prison" and "a judicially sanctioned extortion racket."

On August 8, 2012, the Harpersville Town Council voted to abolish the municipal court, with all cases to be transferred to the county district court.

As of August 18, 2015, the class-action lawsuit remains pending on the issue of damages.

Denise Heberle - 07/31/2012
Priyah Kaul - 11/09/2014


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Defendant-type
Corrections
General
Access to lawyers or judicial system
Over/Unlawful Detention
Poverty/homelessness
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Causes of Action State law
Defendant(s) Harpersville, AL
Plaintiff Description Four individuals previously incarcerated by the City of Harpersville, Alabama.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations None on record
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted Yes
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer No
Nature of Relief Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Litigation
Form of Settlement None on record
Order Duration not on record
Case Closing Year n/a
Case Ongoing Yes
Additional Resources
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Links Philadelphia Forfeiture
http://ij.org/case/philadelphia-forfeiture/
By: Institute for Justice (Institute for Justice)
[ Detail ]

Docket(s)
No docket sheet currently in the collection
General Documents
Order (TRO) 07/11/2012
CJ-AL-0005-0001.pdf | Detail
Press Release 07/13/2012
CJ-AL-0005-0002.pdf | Detail
Judges Harrington, Hub (State Trial Court)
CJ-AL-0005-0001
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers None on record
Defendant's Lawyers None on record
Other Lawyers None on record

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