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Case Name Pierce v. City of Velda City CJ-MO-0007
Docket / Court 4:15-cv-00570 ( E.D. Mo. )
State/Territory Missouri
Case Type(s) Criminal Justice (Other)
Special Collection Fines/Fees/Bail Reform (Criminalization of poverty)
Attorney Organization ArchCity Defenders
Equal Justice Under Law
Case Summary
On April 2, 2015, a pretrial detainee imprisoned in Velda City, Missouri because she could not afford to post bail filed this class action lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri. The plaintiff sued Velda City under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The plaintiff, represented by ... read more >
On April 2, 2015, a pretrial detainee imprisoned in Velda City, Missouri because she could not afford to post bail filed this class action lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri. The plaintiff sued Velda City under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The plaintiff, represented by Equal Justice Under Law and ArchCity Defenders, sought declaratory, injunctive, and compensatory relief. The plaintiff claimed that the City's fixed “bail schedule” was unconstitutional. Specifically, the plaintiff claimed that the City's policy and practice of detaining arrestees for at least three days unless they paid a generically set bond amount violated the equal protection and due process clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment. This case was assigned to Judge Henry Edward Autrey.

That same day, the plaintiff sought a preliminary order enjoining the City from keeping her and those similarly situated in jail without offering release on unsecured bond or recognizance. The plaintiff also moved to certify a class of all arrestees unable to pay for their release pursuant to Velda City's fixed bail schedule who were or would become in the custody of the City.

Within two months, the parties entered into a settlement agreement. Under the agreement, the City agreed to end the use of the challenged cash bond system. Instead, the City agreed to release from its custody any arrestee on personal recognizance or on an unsecured bond as long as that person was not deemed a danger to the community. The City also agreed to release on unsecured bond any person arrested for failing to appear in court two times in a row. After the third nonappearance, the City was allowed to hold someone for up to 48 hours without bond. The City was also prohibited from holding an arrestee charged with ordinance violations in another municipality for more than four hours.

The parties asked the court to issue an injunction effectuating the terms of the agreement. The parties also asked the court to enter a declaratory judgment affirming that holding an arrestee in custody because that person is too poor to post a monetary bond violates the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The court signed the proposed order on June 3, 2015. 2015 WL 10013006. The court retained jurisdiction to enforce the injunction.

This case is now closed.

Robert Lake - 10/13/2015
Hannah Greenhouse - 03/15/2019


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Due Process
Equal Protection
Content of Injunction
Monitoring
Defendant-type
Jurisdiction-wide
General
Bail/Bond
Courts
Fines/Fees/Bail/Bond
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) The City of Velda City
Plaintiff Description Pretrial detainee in Velda City, MO jail, individually and on behalf of a putative class of those similarly-situated
Indexed Lawyer Organizations ArchCity Defenders
Equal Justice Under Law
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted Moot
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Declaratory Judgment
Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Settlement
Form of Settlement Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree
Filing Year 2015
Case Closing Year 2015
Case Ongoing No
Docket(s)
4:15−cv−00570−HEA (E.D. Mo.)
CJ-MO-0007-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 06/03/2015
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Class Action Complaint [ECF# 2]
CJ-MO-0007-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 04/02/2015
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order [ECF# 16] (E.D. Mo.)
CJ-MO-0007-0002.pdf | Detail
Date: 06/03/2015
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
show all people docs
Judges Autrey, Henry Edward (E.D. Mo.) show/hide docs
CJ-MO-0007-0002 | CJ-MO-0007-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Harvey, Thomas B. (Missouri) show/hide docs
CJ-MO-0007-0001 | CJ-MO-0007-9000
Karakatsanis, Alec (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
CJ-MO-0007-0001 | CJ-MO-0007-9000
Voss, Michael-John (Missouri) show/hide docs
CJ-MO-0007-0001
Defendant's Lawyers Garrett, Steven W. (Missouri) show/hide docs
CJ-MO-0007-9000

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