On June 12, 2015, this lawsuit was brought by an indigent person arrested by the City of Moss Point, Mississippi (the City), who was jailed for a prolonged period after she was unable to pay the fee demanded for his release under the city’s “secured bail” schedule. Under that policy, persons ...
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On June 12, 2015, this lawsuit was brought by an indigent person arrested by the City of Moss Point, Mississippi (the City), who was jailed for a prolonged period after she was unable to pay the fee demanded for his release under the city’s “secured bail” schedule. Under that policy, persons arrested by the city were required to post a bail ranging from several hundred to several thousand dollars, based on the offense committed, without any consideration of the person’s ability to pay. Plaintiff argued that the City’s policy violated the Equal Protection and Due Process Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
Represented by public-interest legal groups Equal Justice Under Law and the MacArthur Justice Center, along with private counsel, plaintiff brought suit in the U.S. federal Court for the Eastern District of Missouri, under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and 28 U.S.C. § 2201. Plaintiff asked the court for class certification to represent other similarly situated individuals, for a declaration that the City had violated the constitutional rights of arrestees who were unable to pay the City’s secured bail, for preliminary and permanent injunctive relief requiring the City to stop jailing arrestees for their inability to pay the City’s secured bail, for damages to the named plaintiff to compensate for her period of confinement, and for legal costs and attorneys’ fees.
On October 14, 2015, the parties notified the court that they had reached a settlement. That same day, the judge assigned to the case, District Judge Louis Guirola Jr., found the plaintiff's motion for preliminary injunctive relief and plaintiff’s motion for class certification to be moot in light of the settlement. Under the settlement agreement, the City agreed to abandon its secured bail requirement for persons seeking release from jail after a warrantless arrest or after an initial warrant arrest, and to instead release those persons if they agreed to provide an unsecured bond (under which persons only pay the court if they fail to adhere to the conditions of their bail) or a recognizance (a promise to comply with the conditions of bail). The City also agreed to improve its procedures for notifying arrestees of court dates.
On November 12, 2015, Judge Guirola entered a final judgment, in which she ordered the parties to abide by the terms of the settlement agreement. Plaintiff and plaintiff's counsel agreed to notify defendants of any perceived breach, and to give defendants a reasonable amount of time to resolve the breach before seeking enforcement of the agreement in court. The City also agreed to notify plaintiff and plaintiff's counsel if they find that any of their employees or agents have violated the agreement. Ryan Berry - 07/14/2016