University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
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Case Name Dade v. City of Sherwood CJ-AR-0004
Docket / Court 4:16-cv-00602-JM ( E.D. Ark. )
State/Territory Arkansas
Case Type(s) Criminal Justice (Other)
Special Collection Criminalization of poverty
Attorney Organization Lawyers Comm. for Civil Rights Under Law
Case Summary
On August 23, 2016, five individuals incarcerated due to bounced checks filed this class action suit in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas. They proceeded under 42 U.S.C. §1983 against Sherwood and Pulaski Counties, and various officials including the Sherwood District ... read more >
On August 23, 2016, five individuals incarcerated due to bounced checks filed this class action suit in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas. They proceeded under 42 U.S.C. §1983 against Sherwood and Pulaski Counties, and various officials including the Sherwood District Court Judge, court clerks, and other administrative personnel. The plaintiffs, represented by Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights and Morrison & Foerster LLP, claimed that defendants created and operated an unlawful system of debtors' prisons that convicted plaintiffs who had bounced checks, sometimes for the amount as little as $10 to $15, through "hot check convictions,” in violation of the Due Process clause and Equal Protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The plaintiffs alleged that at their hearings, Sherwood District Court Judge would threaten to jail the arrestee if he or she does not make the payments and directed the arrestee either to arrange for payments or to contact family members who can make the payment on the person's behalf. If the individual was sent to jail in order to coerce payment, that individual was handcuffed and transported to the Pulaski County Jail (the "Jail") for 60, 90, or 120 days until the outstanding court costs, fines, and fees were paid. The plaintiffs alleged that this practice was unconstitutional because it led to weeks or months in the Jail due to their inability to pay, and because it trapped the city's poorest and most disadvantaged individuals in a cycle of ever-increasing court costs, fines, and fees owed to Sherwood beyond their ability to pay.

The plaintiffs sought injunctive and declaratory relief. The case was assigned to U.S. District Judge James M. Moody.

On September 30, 2016, the plaintiffs filed an amended complaint that sought to add the prosecuting attorney for the Sixth Judicial District as an additional defendant. On October 19, 2016, the defendants sought to dismiss that additional defendant.

On January 24, 2017, Magistrate Judge Joe J. Volpe issued proposed findings and recommendations that granted defendant's motion to dismiss in part. He found that it was appropriate for the federal court to "abstain," under the Younger abstention doctrine. Younger abstention bars federal intervention in (1) ongoing state proceedings that (2) evidence important state interests and provide an (3) adequate opportunity to raise any relevant federal questions. Judge Volpe found all three factors to be met, and therefore recommended that the district court decline to interfere in the "hot check" hearings. Judge J. Volpe recommended that Judge Moody dismiss all claims.

On January 30, 2017, the plaintiffs filed a motion for extension of tile to file objections and Judge Moody granted the motion and extended the deadline to object to February 22, 2017.

As of February 5, 2017, the case is ongoing.

MJ Koo - 02/05/2017


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Due Process
Equal Protection
Defendant-type
Jurisdiction-wide
General
Courts
Over/Unlawful Detention
Poverty/homelessness
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Declaratory Judgment Act, 28 U.S.C. § 2201
Defendant(s) City of Sherwood
Plaintiff Description Debtors who were held or will be sentenced to be held in the custody of Sherwood and/or Pulaski county as a result of their inability to cover the cost of bounced checks, as well as debt for court costs, fines, and fees despite their inability to pay.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations Lawyers Comm. for Civil Rights Under Law
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
Case Ongoing Yes
Additional Resources
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  Philadelphia Forfeiture
http://ij.org/case/philadelphia-forfeiture/
Date: Aug. 11, 2014
By: Institute for Justice (Institute for Justice)
[ Detail ]

Docket(s)
4:16-cv-00602-JM (E.D. Ark.)
CJ-AR-0004-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 02/02/2017
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint - Class Action [ECF# 1]
CJ-AR-0004-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 08/23/2016
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
First Amended Complaint - Class Action [ECF# 13]
CJ-AR-0004-0002.pdf | Detail
Date: 09/30/2016
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Proposed Findings and Recommendations Instructions [ECF# 59]
CJ-AR-0004-0003.pdf | Detail
Date: 01/24/2017
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges Moody, James Maxwell Jr. (E.D. Ark.)
CJ-AR-0004-9000
Volpe, Joe J (E.D. Ark.) [Magistrate]
CJ-AR-0004-0003 | CJ-AR-0004-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Brownstein, Bettina E. (Arkansas)
CJ-AR-0004-0001 | CJ-AR-0004-0002 | CJ-AR-0004-9000
Cohen, Jayson L. (New York)
CJ-AR-0004-9000
Koch, Reggie (Arkansas)
CJ-AR-0004-0001 | CJ-AR-0004-0002 | CJ-AR-0004-9000
Lawrence, J. Alexander (New York)
CJ-AR-0004-0001 | CJ-AR-0004-0002 | CJ-AR-0004-9000
Ryan, Hallie (District of Columbia)
CJ-AR-0004-0001 | CJ-AR-0004-0002 | CJ-AR-0004-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Depper, Margaret Diane (Arkansas)
CJ-AR-0004-9000
Fuqua, David M. (Arkansas)
CJ-AR-0004-9000
Hall, John Wesley Jr. (Arkansas)
CJ-AR-0004-9000
Hollingsworth, Patrick E. (Arkansas)
CJ-AR-0004-9000
Mosley, Michael Allen (Arkansas)
CJ-AR-0004-9000
Spivey, Patrick L. (Arkansas)
CJ-AR-0004-9000

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