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Case Name Walker v. City of Calhoun CJ-GA-0012
Docket / Court 4:15-cv-00170-HLM ( 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
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 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 notify the court how it should proceed with the case. 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 Martin, Julie Carnes, and 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 preliminary injunction to bar the City from reinstating original bail policy and notified the court of their intention to file a writ of certiorari 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. This case is ongoing.

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

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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 None Yet / None
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief None yet
Source of Relief None yet
Filing Year 2015
Case Ongoing Yes
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: 03/11/2019
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] (2016 WL 361612) (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]
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
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 | CJ-GA-0012-9002
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-0012-9002
Karakatsanis, Alec (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
CJ-GA-0012-0001 | CJ-GA-0012-9002
Primerano, Ryan (Georgia) show/hide docs
Defendant's Lawyers Beacham, Ansel Franklin III (Georgia) show/hide docs
Davis, Jesse Anderson (Georgia) show/hide docs
Govignon, George Patrick (Georgia) show/hide docs
Grozine, Abby C (Georgia) show/hide docs
Lucas, Samuel Leslie (Georgia) show/hide docs
Root, David F. (Georgia) show/hide docs
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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