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Case Name Walker v. City of Calhoun CJ-GA-0012
Docket / Court 4:15-cv-00170-SCJ ( N.D. Ga. )
Additional Docket(s) 16-10521  [ 16-10521 ]
State/Territory Georgia
Case Type(s) Criminal Justice (Other)
Special Collection DOJ Civil Rights Division Statements of Interest
Fines/Fees/Bail Reform (Criminalization of poverty)
Attorney Organization Equal Justice Under Law
Southern Center for Human Rights
Case Summary
This is a case challenging the Georgia city of Calhoun's use of a bail schedule that did not account for ability to pay, leading to longer detention of poor criminal defendants.

On September 8, 2015, a 54-year-old indigent man filed this class action lawsuit in the U.S. District Court ... read more >
This is a case challenging the Georgia city of Calhoun's use of a bail schedule that did not account for ability to pay, leading to longer detention of poor criminal defendants.

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. 2015 WL 13547012.

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 not 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."

On March 9, 2017, the Eleventh Circuit vacated the preliminary injunction and remanded the case to the district court for further proceedings, finding the injunction to be overly broad. 682 Fed. Appx. 721.

Back in district court, Judge Murphy directed both parties to advise the court what they thought should happen. The plaintiffs responded by indicating that the court should just enter a more specific injunction while the defendants maintained essentially their same objections to the injunction. After considering these recommendations, on June 16, 2017, Judge Murphy agreed with the plaintiffs and granted a more specific preliminary injunction. The defendant would be prohibited from detaining arrestees who are otherwise eligible for release but are unable to post bail because of their poverty. Further, the court established procedures whereby an indigent plaintiff can demonstrate financial hardship. 2017 WL 2794064.

The defendant again appealed to the Eleventh Circuit on July 12, 2017, and also motioned to stay proceedings with the district court on August 4, 2017. Judge Murphy granted the motion to stay proceedings on August 17, 2017.

On August 22, 2018, Eleventh Circuit Judges Beverly Martin, Julie Carnes, and Diarmuid O’Scannlain vacated the second preliminary injunction. The court applied a heightened scrutiny review standard and allowed the City an opportunity to develop an evidentiary record about its need for a 48-hour detention policy for indigents before considering this case on the merits. On September 24, the district court vacated the preliminary injunction in accordance with the Eleventh Circuit order.

On October 5, 2018, the plaintiffs moved for a preliminary injunction to bar the City from reinstating its original bail policy; they notified the court of their intention to file a certiorari petition in the U.S. Supreme Court seeking review of the Eleventh Circuit’s recent decision in this case. On November 26, 2018, the district court stayed the proceedings in this matter through the earlier of (1) the Supreme Court’s resolution of the plaintiffs’ petition for a writ of certiorari; or (2) June 28, 2019. The court also denied without prejudice the plaintiffs’ motion for preliminary injunction.

On April 1, 2019, plaintiffs' certiorari petition to the Supreme Court was denied. 139 S.Ct. 1446. The next day, the district court lifted the stay and the plaintiffs moved for a narrow preliminary injunction consistent with the Eleventh Circuit decision.

On August 5, 2019 plaintiffs moved to have the case referred to mediation, which the defendant did not oppose. Accordingly, Judge Murphy referred the case to Chief Magistrate Judge Walter E. Johnson for mediation on September 6, 2019. A settlement conference was scheduled for October 21st, but mediation was canceled because the parties had agreed to a settlement. On November 18th, the parties filed a joint motion for preliminary approval of a class action settlement agreement.

Under the proposed settlement agreement, the City agreed to three substantive policies for the benefit of the class members. First, the City would not return to the bail policies or procedures that were in effect when plaintiff was arrested in September 2015. Second, the City would provide a copy of the 2019 Standing Bail Order to the Gordon County Sheriff’s Office to ensure that no arrestee under the jurisdiction of the City of Calhoun Municipal Court would be held in jail after arrest pursuant to a secured monetary bond solely because the arrestee cannot afford to pay the bond amount, except for a reasonable amount of time, not to exceed 48 hours, needed to process the arrestee and bring her or him before a neutral decision maker for a hearing on the arrestee’s indigence and alternative release provisions. Third, the City would incorporate into a resolution for reappointment of the current municipal court judge, and all future municipal judges, a provision requiring that the 2019 Standing Bail Order is followed as the policy of the Calhoun Municipal Court. There is no enforcement mechanism included in the settlement agreement.

By an agreement that was negotiated separately, the City agreed to pay $20,000 to plaintiff to resolve his individual damages claims, and $30,000 of attorney’s fees for plaintiff’s counsel. On November 22, 2019, Judge Murphy granted the joint motion for preliminary approval.

On January 30, 2020, the case was reassigned to Judge Steve C. Jones. Judge Jones approved the parties' class action settlement agreement on February 18, 2020. Plaintiffs then moved for $30,000 in attorney's fees as agreed upon in the settlement and final order and Judge Jones granted the motion on February 25, 2020.

On March 18, 2020, the parties jointly stipulated to dismissal of the case with prejudice.

Kate Craddock - 09/29/2015
Jessica Kincaid - 02/06/2016
John He - 08/28/2016
Bryce Freeman - 10/26/2017
Sichun Liu - 03/10/2019
Claire Shimberg - 04/26/2020

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Issues and Causes of Action
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Constitutional Clause
Due Process
Content of Injunction
Preliminary relief granted
Over/Unlawful Detention
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Declaratory Judgment Act, 28 U.S.C. § 2201
Defendant(s) City of Calhoun, Georgia
Plaintiff Description Arrestees imprisoned because they could not afford to pay the amount of money generically set by the bail schedule used by the City of Calhoun.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations Equal Justice Under Law
Southern Center for Human Rights
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted Yes
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Preliminary injunction / Temp. restraining order
Attorneys fees
Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Settlement
Form of Settlement Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree
Filed 09/08/2015
Case Ongoing No reason to think so
Case Listing CJ-AL-0016 : Edwards v. Cofield (M.D. Ala.)
Additional Resources
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  See this case at (May provide additional documents and, for active cases, real-time alerts)
4:15-cv-170 (N.D. Ga.)
CJ-GA-0012-9002.pdf | Detail
Date: 03/18/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint [ECF# 1]
CJ-GA-0012-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 09/08/2015
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order on Withdrawal of Request for Temporary Restraining Order and Motion for Hearing on Preliminary Injunction [ECF# 13] (N.D. Ga.)
CJ-GA-0012-0002.pdf | Detail
Date: 09/10/2015
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order [denying defendant's motion to dismiss claim] [ECF# 28] (2015 WL 13547012) (N.D. Ga.)
CJ-GA-0012-0003.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 12/02/2015
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order [granting plaintiff's motion for preliminary injunction] [ECF# 40] (2016 WL 361612 / 2016 U.S.Dist.LEXIS 12305) (N.D. Ga.)
CJ-GA-0012-0004.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 01/28/2016
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Brief for the United States as Amicus Curiae Supporting Plaintiff-Appellee and Urging Affirmance on the Issue Addressed Herein
CJ-GA-0012-0005.pdf | Detail
Date: 08/18/2016
Source: U.S. Court of Appeals website
Opinion [USCA] [Ct. of App. ECF# 53] (682 Fed.Appx. 721)
CJ-GA-0012-0006.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 03/09/2017
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order [ECF# 68] (2017 WL 2794064) (N.D. Ga.)
CJ-GA-0012-0007.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 06/16/2017
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order [ECF# 83] (N.D. Ga.)
CJ-GA-0012-0008.pdf | Detail
Date: 08/17/2017
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
USCA Opinion Vacating and Remanding to District Court for Further Proceedings [Ct. of App. ECF# 87]
CJ-GA-0012-0009.pdf | Detail
Date: 08/22/2018
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Class Action Settlement Agreement [ECF# ECF 132-2]
CJ-GA-0012-0014.pdf | Detail
Date: 11/18/2019
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Joint Motion for Preliminary Approval of Class Action Settlement Agreement [with exhibits] [ECF# 132, 132-1, 132-3]
CJ-GA-0012-0010.pdf | Detail
Date: 11/18/2019
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Preliminary Approval Order [ECF# 133] (N.D. Ga.)
CJ-GA-0012-0011.pdf | Detail
Date: 11/22/2019
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Final Approval Order and Judgment [ECF# 138] (N.D. Ga.)
CJ-GA-0012-0012.pdf | Detail
Date: 02/18/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order [ECF# 140] (N.D. Ga.)
CJ-GA-0012-0013.pdf | Detail
Date: 02/25/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
show all people docs
Judges Baldock, Bobby Ray (FISCR, D.N.M., Tenth Circuit) show/hide docs
Carnes, Julie E. (N.D. Ga., Eleventh Circuit) show/hide docs
Jones, Steve CarMichael (N.D. Ga.) show/hide docs
CJ-GA-0012-0011 | CJ-GA-0012-0012 | CJ-GA-0012-0013 | CJ-GA-0012-9002
Jordan, Adalberto Jose (S.D. Fla., Eleventh Circuit) show/hide docs
Martin, Beverly Baldwin (N.D. Ga., Eleventh Circuit) show/hide docs
Murphy, Harold Lloyd (N.D. Ga.) show/hide docs
CJ-GA-0012-0002 | CJ-GA-0012-0003 | CJ-GA-0012-0004 | CJ-GA-0012-0007 | CJ-GA-0012-0008
Pryor, William Holcombe Jr. (Eleventh Circuit) show/hide docs
Plaintiff's Lawyers Geraghty, Sarah E. (Georgia) show/hide docs
CJ-GA-0012-0001 | CJ-GA-0012-0014 | CJ-GA-0012-9002
Karakatsanis, Alec (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
CJ-GA-0012-0001 | CJ-GA-0012-0010 | CJ-GA-0012-0014 | CJ-GA-0012-9002
Primerano, Ryan (Georgia) show/hide docs
CJ-GA-0012-0010 | CJ-GA-0012-9002
Defendant's Lawyers Beacham, Ansel Franklin III (Georgia) show/hide docs
Davis, Jesse Anderson (Georgia) show/hide docs
CJ-GA-0012-0010 | CJ-GA-0012-0014 | CJ-GA-0012-9002
Govignon, George Patrick (Georgia) show/hide docs
CJ-GA-0012-0010 | CJ-GA-0012-0014 | CJ-GA-0012-9002
Grozine, Abby C (Georgia) show/hide docs
CJ-GA-0012-0010 | CJ-GA-0012-9002
Lucas, Samuel Leslie (Georgia) show/hide docs
Root, David F. (Georgia) show/hide docs
CJ-GA-0012-0014 | CJ-GA-0012-9002
Other Lawyers Foster, Lisa A. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
Gupta, Vanita (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
Horn, John A. (Georgia) show/hide docs

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