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Case Name Thompson v. Moss Point, Mississippi CJ-MS-0002
Docket / Court 1:15-cv-00182-LG-RHW ( S.D. Miss. )
State/Territory Mississippi
Case Type(s) Criminal Justice (Other)
Special Collection Fines/Fees/Bail Reform (Criminalization of poverty)
Attorney Organization Equal Justice Under Law
Case Summary
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 release under the city’s “secured bail” schedule. Under that policy, persons ... read more >
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 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. The 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, the plaintiff brought suit in the U.S. federal Court for the Eastern District of Missouri, under § 1983 and the Declaratory Judgment Act. The plaintiff requested class certification to represent other similarly situated individuals, a declaration that the City had violated the constitutional rights of arrestees who were unable to pay the City’s secured bail, preliminary and permanent injunctive relief requiring the City to stop jailing arrestees for their inability to pay the City’s secured bail, damages to the named plaintiff to compensate for her period of confinement, and 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 moot in light of the settlement. Under the agreement, the City would abandon its secured bail requirement for persons seeking release from jail after a warrantless arrest or after an initial warrant arrest. Instead, it would 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 6, 2015, Judge Guirola entered a declaratory judgment holding that the City's use of secured bail against the plaintiff was a violation of the 14th Amendment right to equal protection. 2015 WL 10322003. On November 12, 2015, Judge Guirola entered a final judgment, ordering the parties to abide by the terms of the settlement agreement. The 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 the plaintiff and counsel if it find that any of its employees or agents had violated the agreement. The case was dismissed and is now closed.

Ryan Berry - 07/14/2016
Nathaniel Flack - 11/26/2018


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Due Process
Equal Protection
Content of Injunction
Discrimination Prohibition
Reporting
Required disclosure
Defendant-type
Jurisdiction-wide
Law-enforcement
General
Bail/Bond
Commitment procedure
Disparate Impact
Disparate Treatment
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) City of Moss Point
Plaintiff Description Person jailed for prolonged period of time due to inability to pay secured bail
Indexed Lawyer Organizations 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
Order Duration 2015 - n/a
Filing Year 2015
Case Closing Year 2015
Case Ongoing No
Additional Resources
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  See this case at CourtListener.com (May provide additional documents and, for active cases, real-time alerts)
Docket(s)
1:15-cv-182 (S.D. Miss.)
CJ-MS-0002-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 11/12/2015
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Class Action Complaint [ECF# 1]
CJ-MS-0002-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 06/12/2015
Source: Bloomberg Law
Declaratory Judgment [ECF# 18] (2015 WL 10322003) (S.D. Miss.)
CJ-MS-0002-0002.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 11/06/2015
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Final Judgment [ECF# 19] (S.D. Miss.)
CJ-MS-0002-0003.pdf | Detail
Date: 11/12/2015
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
show all people docs
Judges Guirola, Louis Jr. (W.D. Tex., S.D. Miss.) show/hide docs
CJ-MS-0002-0002 | CJ-MS-0002-0003 | CJ-MS-0002-9000
Walker, Robert H. (S.D. Miss.) [Magistrate] show/hide docs
CJ-MS-0002-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Howard, Jacob W. (Mississippi) show/hide docs
CJ-MS-0002-0001 | CJ-MS-0002-9000
Johnson, J. Clifton II (Mississippi) show/hide docs
CJ-MS-0002-0001 | CJ-MS-0002-9000
Karakatsanis, Alec (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
CJ-MS-0002-0001 | CJ-MS-0002-9000

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