University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
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Case Name United States v. City of Meridian JI-MS-0010
Docket / Court 3:13-cv-00978-HTW-LRA ( S.D. Miss. )
State/Territory Mississippi
Case Type(s) Juvenile Institution
Policing
Attorney Organization U.S. Dept. of Justice Civil Rights Division
Case Summary
On December 1, 2011, the Department of Justice Civil Rights Divisions launched an investigation of the Meridian Police Department and the Lauderdale County Youth Court pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §14141 and 42 U.S.C. 2000d. On June 29, 2012, the DOJ expanded their investigation to include the ... read more >
On December 1, 2011, the Department of Justice Civil Rights Divisions launched an investigation of the Meridian Police Department and the Lauderdale County Youth Court pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §14141 and 42 U.S.C. 2000d. On June 29, 2012, the DOJ expanded their investigation to include the Mississippi Division of Youth Services. On August 10, 2012, the DOJ published their findings that the agencies in question had violated the constitutional rights of the children under the Fourth, Fifth, and Fourteenth Amendments. The DOJ provided the agencies an opportunity to cure the offending behavior but no negotiations occurred.

On October 24, 2012, the United States filed a lawsuit against the agencies in the Southern District of Mississippi under 42 U.S.C. §14141. The government alleged that the defendants in the investigation collectively helped to operate a "school-to-prison pipeline." The government sought declaratory relief, an order permanently enjoying defendants from the alleged unlawful practices, an order requiring defendants to effectuate corrected polices, and other equitable relief.

This was the first lawsuit brought under a "school-to-prison pipeline" legal theory. Under this theory, the government claimed that the defendants systematically incarcerated children in Meridian for allegedly committing minor offenses and punished children disproportionately without due process. The government alleged that the Meridian Police Department would automatically arrest students referred by the Meridian Public School District without assessing the nature of the referral and without probable cause. Students were not provided adequate information regarding their rights. Students were then commonly held for more than 48 hours while they awaited youth court "detention hearings" that did not meet the Due Process requirement of the Constitution. These acts violated the constitutional rights of the children under the Fourth, Fifth, and Fourteenth Amendments.

On December 7, 2012, defendants filed a motion to dismiss based on Younger abstention. On September 4, 2013, United States District Judge Henry T. Wingate denied the motion. Judge Wingate noted that the government's interest in eliminating a pattern or practice of constitutional violations was not necessarily identical to the interests of individual children facing delinquency proceedings in state court. Moreover, the government's interest was not so "intertwined" with such individuals so as to justify barring prospective relief to a person not a party to the challenged state actions. The government may have interests that transcends that of private state defendants.

On December 26, 2013, the case was transferred to the Northern Division and assigned a new case number.

[Case needs to be updated from this point forward].

Richard Jolly - 11/18/2014


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Due Process
Defendant-type
Jurisdiction-wide
Law-enforcement
General
Access to lawyers or judicial system
Disparate Treatment
Juveniles
Plaintiff Type
U.S. Dept of Justice plaintiff
Type of Facility
Government-run
Causes of Action Title VI, Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000d et seq.
42 U.S.C. § 14141
Defendant(s) City of Meridian
County of Lauderdale
Lauderdale County Youth Center
Mississippi Department of Human Services
Mississippi Division of Youth Services
Plaintiff Description The Department of Justice Civil Rights Division, on behalf of youths arrested, tried, and detained in Lauderdale County, Mississippi
Indexed Lawyer Organizations U.S. Dept. of Justice Civil Rights Division
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Prevailing Party None Yet / None
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief None yet
Source of Relief None yet
Form of Settlement None on record
Order Duration not on record
Case Closing Year n/a
Case Ongoing Yes
Docket(s)
4:12-cv-168 (S.D. Miss.) 12/26/2013
JI-MS-0010-9000.pdf | Detail
PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Findings Letter (2012) 08/10/2012
JI-MS-0010-0001.pdf | Detail
Document Source: U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, Special Litigation Section
Justice Department Releases Investigative Findings Showing Constitutional Rights of Children in Mississippi Being Violated 08/10/2012
JI-MS-0010-0005.pdf | Detail
Document Source: U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, Special Litigation Section
Complaint 10/24/2012
JI-MS-0010-0002.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Justice Department Files Lawsuit in Mississippi to Protect the Constitutional Rights of Children 10/24/2012
JI-MS-0010-0007.pdf | Detail
Document Source: U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, Special Litigation Section
Order Denying Defendants' Motion to Dismiss Based on Younger Abstention 09/04/2013 (S.D. Miss.)
JI-MS-0010-0003.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Justice Department Reaches Settlement Agreements to Address Unconstitutional Youth Arrest and Probation Practices in Meridian, Mississippi 06/19/2015
JI-MS-0010-0006.pdf | Detail
Document Source: U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, Special Litigation Section
State Settlement Agreement 09/18/2015
JI-MS-0010-0004.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges Anderson, Linda Randle (S.D. Miss.) [Magistrate]
JI-MS-0010-9000
Wingate, Henry Travillion (S.D. Miss.)
JI-MS-0010-0003 | JI-MS-0010-0004 | JI-MS-0010-9000
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers Austin, Roy L. (District of Columbia)
JI-MS-0010-0002 | JI-MS-0010-9000
Davis, Gregory K. (Mississippi)
JI-MS-0010-0002 | JI-MS-0010-0004 | JI-MS-0010-0005 | JI-MS-0010-0006 | JI-MS-0010-0007 | JI-MS-0010-9000
Gupta, Vanita (District of Columbia)
JI-MS-0010-0006
Jackson, Shelley (District of Columbia)
JI-MS-0010-0002 | JI-MS-0010-9000
Jernigan, Alfred B. Jr. (Mississippi)
JI-MS-0010-0002 | JI-MS-0010-9000
Jones, Michelle A. (District of Columbia)
JI-MS-0010-0002 | JI-MS-0010-9000
Ogletree, Rashida J (District of Columbia)
JI-MS-0010-9000
Paige, Mitzi Dease (Mississippi)
JI-MS-0010-9000
Perez, Thomas E. (District of Columbia)
JI-MS-0010-0001 | JI-MS-0010-0002 | JI-MS-0010-0005 | JI-MS-0010-0007 | JI-MS-0010-9000
Rifkin, Lori Ellen (District of Columbia)
JI-MS-0010-0002 | JI-MS-0010-9000
Smith, Jonathan Mark (District of Columbia)
JI-MS-0010-0002 | JI-MS-0010-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Bailey, Robert Thomas (Mississippi)
JI-MS-0010-9000
Darsey, Reed C. (Mississippi)
JI-MS-0010-9000
Goggans, Michael D. (Mississippi)
JI-MS-0010-9000
Miracle, Douglas T. (Mississippi)
JI-MS-0010-0004 | JI-MS-0010-9000
Palmer, Henry (Mississippi)
JI-MS-0010-9000
Pizzetta, Harold Edward III (Mississippi)
JI-MS-0010-9000
Thaggard, Lee (Mississippi)
JI-MS-0010-9000
Walton, Ronnie Leigh (Mississippi)
JI-MS-0010-9000
Other Lawyers None on record

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