On September 8, 2015, a 54-year-old indigent man filed this class action lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia. The plaintiff sued the city of Calhoun, Georgia, under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and 28 U.S.C. § 2201. Represented by Equal Justice Under Law and the Southern ...
read more >
On September 8, 2015, a 54-year-old indigent man filed this class action lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia. The plaintiff sued the city of Calhoun, Georgia, under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and 28 U.S.C. § 2201. Represented by Equal Justice Under Law and the Southern Center for Human Rights, the plaintiff claimed that the City had refused to release individuals arrested for minor offenses from jail unless they paid a generic bond amount. Specifically, the plaintiff alleged that the City used a "fixed secured money-based detention scheme" that operated to detain the most impoverished misdemeanor arrestees. The City holds court hearings only once per week, so someone who is arrested for a minor crime but is indigent will have to remain in jail for up to seven days. The plaintiff argued that this practice violated the Fourteenth Amendment, and asked the court for injunctive relief and a declaration that the city's conduct was unlawful.
With the complaint, the plaintiff moved for a temporary restraining order, or in the alternative, a preliminary injunction, to prevent the City from keeping him and similarly situated individuals in jail without offering release on unsecured bond or recognizance. After his release from jail, however, the plaintiff withdrew his motion for a temporary restraining order. But the plaintiff continued with his request for a preliminary injunction. The plaintiff also moved for class certification.
On November 2, 2015, the City moved to dismiss this case for failure to state a claim. In the alternative, the City requested that the plaintiff submit a more definite statement of his claim. On December 2, 2015. Judge Murphy denied the City's motion. Judge Murphy held that the plaintiff sufficiently stated a cause of action, and found that the plaintiff’s complaint was not so vague or ambiguous that the City could not appropriately respond.
On January 28, 2016, Judge Murphy granted the plaintiff's motion for a preliminary injunction. Judge Murphy ordered the City to implement post-arrest procedures that comply with the Constitution. In addition, unless and until the City implemented lawful post-arrest procedures, the defendant had to release any other misdemeanor arrestees in its custody, or who come into its custody, on their own recognizance or on an unsecured bond in a manner otherwise consistent with state and federal law and with standard booking procedures. The City could not continue to keep arrestees in its custody for any amount of time solely because the arrestees could afford a secured monetary bond. 2016 WL 361612. On the same day, Judge Murphy also certified the plaintiff class. 2016 WL 361580.
On February 5, 2016, the City appealed Judge Murphy’s orders for a preliminary injunction and class certification to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit. Amicus briefs were filed by a number of interested parties, including a statement of interest by the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice. The Civil Rights Division argued that "a bail scheme that imposes financial conditions, without individualized consideration of ability to pay and whether such conditions are necessary to assure appearance at trial, violates the Fourteenth Amendment."
This case is ongoing.Kate Craddock - 09/29/2015
Jessica Kincaid - 02/06/2016
John He - 08/28/2016