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Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
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Case Name Yarls v. Bunton PD-LA-0006
Docket / Court 3:16-cv-00031-JJB-RLB ( M.D. La. )
State/Territory Louisiana
Case Type(s) Indigent Defense
Attorney Organization ACLU Chapters (any)
ACLU National (all projects)
Case Summary
On January 14, 2016, arrestees in New Orleans who were declared eligible to receive appointed counsel from the Orleans Parish Public Defender’s Office (OPD) but were placed on a waiting list, sued in a class action OPD and the Louisiana State Public Defender office under 42 U.S.C. s. 1983 for ... read more >
On January 14, 2016, arrestees in New Orleans who were declared eligible to receive appointed counsel from the Orleans Parish Public Defender’s Office (OPD) but were placed on a waiting list, sued in a class action OPD and the Louisiana State Public Defender office under 42 U.S.C. s. 1983 for violating their Sixth and Fourteenth Amendment rights. OPD’s refusal to represent Plaintiffs meant that they remained in jail without counsel. Plaintiff class seeks attorney’s fees and a declaration that OPD’s placement of class members on a waiting list for an indefinite amount of time violates their Constitutional rights to counsel, due process, and equal protection.

OPD refused to accept Plaintiffs as clients due to budgetary shortages and excessive caseloads. After hearings in which OPD discussed its budgetary crisis in late 2015, the Chief District Defender announced it would start declining certain felony cases in mid-January of 2016. The withdrawals would occur at a defendant’s first appearance before the magistrate. Plaintiffs credit OPD’s situation to the State of Louisiana’s underfunding of its public defender system.

The court has not yet ruled on class certification.

Dan Hofman - 03/11/2016


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Assistance of counsel (6th Amendment)
Due Process
Equal Protection
Crowding
Crowding / caseload
General
Access to lawyers or judicial system
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Defendant(s) Derwyn Bunton
James T. Dixon, Jr.
Plaintiff Description Arrestees in New Orleans who were declared eligible to receive appointed counsel from the Orleans Parish Public Defender’s Office (OPD) but were placed on a waiting list for an indefinite amount of time.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations ACLU Chapters (any)
ACLU National (all projects)
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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Case Studies Indigent Defense Reform: The Role of Systemic Litigation in Operationalizing the Gideon Right to Counsel
Written: May. 07, 2007
By: Vidhya K. Reddy (Washington University in St. Louis)
[ Detail ] [ PDF ]

  Justice Denied: America's Continuing Neglect of Our Constitutional Right to Counsel.
Written: Apr. 14, 2009
By: National Right to Counsel Committee (The Constitution Project)
Citation: National Right to Counsel Committee, Justice Denied: America's Continuing Neglect of Our Constitutional Right to Counsel (2009)
[ Detail ] [ PDF ] [ External Link ]

  Securing Reasonable Caseloads: Ethics and Law in Public Defense
By: Norman Lefstein (Indiana University--Indianapolis)
Citation: (ABA 2011)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

  The Third Generation of Indigent Defense Litigation
New York University Review of Law and Social Change
By: Cara Drinan (Columbus School of Law, Catholic University)
Citation: 33 N.Y.U. Rev. L. & Soc. Change 427 (2009)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

Docket(s)
3:16-cv-31 (M.D. La.) 03/15/2016
PD-LA-0006-9000.pdf | Detail
PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Class Action Complaint 01/14/2016
PD-LA-0006-0001.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges Brady, James J. (M.D. La.)
PD-LA-0006-9000
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers Buskey, Brandon (New York)
PD-LA-0006-0001 | PD-LA-0006-9000
Edwards, Ezekiel (New York)
PD-LA-0006-0001 | PD-LA-0006-9000
Lellelid, Anna (Louisiana)
PD-LA-0006-0001 | PD-LA-0006-9000
Quigley, William Patrick (Louisiana)
PD-LA-0006-0001 | PD-LA-0006-9000
Ratner, Emily Faye (Louisiana)
PD-LA-0006-0001 | PD-LA-0006-9000
Sirmon, Candice C. (Louisiana)
PD-LA-0006-0001 | PD-LA-0006-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Broussard, Maggie A. (Louisiana)
PD-LA-0006-9000
Landis, John M. (Louisiana)
PD-LA-0006-9000
Surprenant, Mark Christopher (Louisiana)
PD-LA-0006-9000
Other Lawyers None on record

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