University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
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Case Name Foster v. City of Alexander City CJ-AL-0014
Docket / Court 3:15-cv-647-WKW ( M.D. Ala. )
State/Territory Alabama
Case Type(s) Criminal Justice (Other)
Special Collection Criminalization of poverty
Attorney Organization Southern Poverty Law Center
Case Summary
On September 8, 2015, two Alexander City residents who had been jailed for their inability to pay traffic or misdemeanor fines and costs filed this class action lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Alabama. Represented by counsel from the Southern Poverty Law ... read more >
On September 8, 2015, two Alexander City residents who had been jailed for their inability to pay traffic or misdemeanor fines and costs filed this class action lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Alabama. Represented by counsel from the Southern Poverty Law Center, plaintiffs sued the City of Alexander and the Police Chief Willie Robinson under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and the U.S. Constitution. The plaintiffs asked the court to grant declaratory, injunctive, and monetary relief.

Specifically, the plaintiffs alleged that Alexander City has a practice of arresting individuals who cannot pay traffic or misdemeanor fines and costs in full on the date assessed, and jailing them until they pay or sit out the amount owed at a base rate of $20 per day. The plaintiffs alleged this practice violated the Fourth, Sixth, and Fourteenth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution, as well as state law. The plaintiffs further alleged this practice was implemented pursuant to the authorization of the Police Chief.

The plaintiffs sought class certification for declaratory and injunctive relief. The plaintiffs sought separate class certification for a damages class, including individuals who had been arrested and jailed for failure to pay fines and court costs.

On September 8, 2015, the plaintiffs also filed a motion for a temporary restraining order or preliminary injunction directing the defendants to stop jailing persons who are not able to pay their fines and costs in full on the date of their adjudication. The hearing for the motion for preliminary injunction is set for December 15, 2015. The case is currently in progress.

Sarah Precup - 09/28/2015


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Assistance of counsel (6th Amendment)
Cruel and Unusual Punishment
Due Process
Equal Protection
Establishment Clause
Unreasonable search and seizure
Defendant-type
Jurisdiction-wide
Law-enforcement
General
False arrest
Over/Unlawful Detention
Placement in detention facilities
Poverty/homelessness
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Defendant(s) City of Alexander City
Plaintiff Description "Declaratory and Injunctive Relief Class": All individuals who in the future will be adjudicated by the Alexander City Municipal Court to owe fines and/or court costs, and who will be jailed on that date of adjudication by the Alexander City Police Department for their failure to pay fines or court costs. "Damages Class": All individuals who, on or after September 8, 2013, were arrested and jailed for their failure to pay fines and court costs by the Alexander City Police Department.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations Southern Poverty Law Center
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted Pending
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
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)
3:15-cv-647 (M.D. Ala.) 09/18/2015
CJ-AL-0014-9000.pdf | Detail
PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint 09/08/2015
CJ-AL-0014-0001.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Plaintiff Underwood's Motion for Temporary Restraining Order or Preliminary Injunction 09/08/2015
CJ-AL-0014-0002.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges Walker, Susan Russ (M.D. Ala.) [Magistrate]
CJ-AL-0014-9000
Watkins, William Keith (M.D. Ala.)
CJ-AL-0014-9000
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers Brooke, Samuel (Alabama)
CJ-AL-0014-0001 | CJ-AL-0014-0002 | CJ-AL-0014-9000
Cavanaugh, William Francis Jr (District of Columbia)
CJ-AL-0014-9000
Millenky, Susan (New York)
CJ-AL-0014-9000
Restrepo, Valentina (Alabama)
CJ-AL-0014-0001 | CJ-AL-0014-0002 | CJ-AL-0014-9000
Zampierin, Sara (Alabama)
CJ-AL-0014-0001 | CJ-AL-0014-0002 | CJ-AL-0014-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Canupp, David Jonathon (Alabama)
CJ-AL-0014-9000
Chynoweth, Brad A. (Alabama)
CJ-AL-0014-9000
Radney, William Larkin III (Alabama)
CJ-AL-0014-9000
Other Lawyers None on record

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