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Case Name Yarls v. Bunton PD-LA-0006
Docket / Court 3:16-cv-00031-JJB-RLB ( M.D. La. )
State/Territory Louisiana
Case Type(s) Indigent Defense
Attorney Organization ACLU Chapters (any)
ACLU National (all projects)
Case Summary
On January 14, 2016, arrestees in New Orleans who were declared eligible to receive appointed counsel from the Orleans Parish Public Defender’s Office (OPD) but were placed on a waiting list, sued in a class action OPD and the Louisiana State Public Defender office under 42 U.S.C. §1983 for ... read more >
On January 14, 2016, arrestees in New Orleans who were declared eligible to receive appointed counsel from the Orleans Parish Public Defender’s Office (OPD) but were placed on a waiting list, sued in a class action OPD and the Louisiana State Public Defender office under 42 U.S.C. §1983 for violating their Sixth and Fourteenth Amendment rights. OPD’s refusal to represent plaintiffs meant that they remained in jail without counsel. Plaintiff class seeks attorney’s fees and a declaration that OPD’s placement of class members on a waiting list for an indefinite amount of time violates their constitutional rights to counsel, due process, and equal protection.

OPD refused to accept plaintiffs as clients due to budgetary shortages and excessive caseloads. After hearings in which OPD discussed its budgetary crisis in late 2015, the Chief District Defender announced it would start declining certain felony cases in mid-January of 2016. The withdrawals would occur at a defendant’s first appearance before the magistrate. Plaintiffs credit OPD’s situation to the State of Louisiana’s underfunding of its public defender system.

On June 15, 2016 the parties filed a joint motion for judgment granting final declaratory and partial injunctive relief. On October 27, 2016 the court sua sponte raised the issue of subject matter jurisdiction, giving both parties a chance to submit briefs addressing the issue. On January 31, 2017 the court (Judge James Brady) dismissed the case, citing grounds of federalism and comity. 231 F.Supp.3d 128.

On September 25, 2017 plaintiffs appealed to the Fifth Circuit. On October 4, 2018 the Fifth Circuit dismissed the case as moot because it found that since the appeal was filed, Louisiana lawmakers had reallocated funding for appointed counsel sufficient to render the waitlists for non-capital defendants nonexistent. 905 F.3d 905. This case is now closed.

Dan Hofman - 03/11/2016
Anna Brito - 03/10/2019


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Assistance of counsel (6th Amendment)
Due Process
Equal Protection
Crowding
Crowding / caseload
General
Access to lawyers or judicial system
Staff (number, training, qualifications, wages)
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Defendant(s) Louisiana State Public Defenders
Orleans Parish Public Defenders
Plaintiff Description Arrestees in New Orleans who were declared eligible to receive appointed counsel from the Orleans Parish Public Defender’s Office (OPD) but were placed on a waiting list for an indefinite amount of time.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations ACLU Chapters (any)
ACLU National (all projects)
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted No
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party Defendant
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief None
Source of Relief None
Filing Year 2016
Case Ongoing No
Case Listing PD-LA-0005 : Allen v. Edwards (State Court)
Additional Resources
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  See this case at CourtListener.com (May provide additional documents and, for active cases, real-time alerts)
  Securing Reasonable Caseloads: Ethics and Law in Public Defense
Date: 2011
By: Norman Lefstein (Indiana University--Indianapolis Faculty)
Citation: (ABA 2011)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

  Justice Denied: America's Continuing Neglect of Our Constitutional Right to Counsel.
Date: Apr. 14, 2009
By: National Right to Counsel Committee (The Constitution Project)
Citation: National Right to Counsel Committee, Justice Denied: America's Continuing Neglect of Our Constitutional Right to Counsel (2009)
[ Detail ] [ PDF ] [ External Link ]

  The Third Generation of Indigent Defense Litigation
New York University Review of Law and Social Change
Date: 2009
By: Cara Drinan (Columbus School of Law, Catholic University Faculty)
Citation: 33 N.Y.U. Rev. L. & Soc. Change 427 (2009)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

  Indigent Defense Reform: The Role of Systemic Litigation in Operationalizing the Gideon Right to Counsel
Date: May 7, 2007
By: Vidhya K. Reddy (Washington University in St. Louis Law Student)
[ Detail ] [ PDF ]

Docket(s)
3:16-cv-31 (M.D. La.)
PD-LA-0006-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 02/06/2018
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Class Action Complaint [ECF# 1]
PD-LA-0006-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 01/14/2016
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Second Amended Class Action Complaint [ECF# 43]
PD-LA-0006-0002.pdf | Detail
Date: 08/17/2016
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Ruling Dismissing Case [ECF# 62] (231 F.Supp.3d 128) (M.D. La.)
PD-LA-0006-0003.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 01/31/2017
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Notice of Plaintiffs' Appeal to USCA [ECF# 66]
PD-LA-0006-0004.pdf | Detail
Date: 09/25/2017
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
USCA Opinion Dismissing Appeal (905 F.3d 905)
PD-LA-0006-0005.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 10/04/2018
Source: U.S. Court of Appeals website
show all people docs
Judges Brady, James J. (M.D. La.) show/hide docs
PD-LA-0006-0003 | PD-LA-0006-9000
Elrod, Jennifer Walker (Fifth Circuit) show/hide docs
PD-LA-0006-0005
Jolly, E. Grady (Fifth Circuit) show/hide docs
PD-LA-0006-0005
Willett, Don R. (Fifth Circuit) show/hide docs
PD-LA-0006-0005
Plaintiff's Lawyers Buskey, Brandon (New York) show/hide docs
PD-LA-0006-0001 | PD-LA-0006-0002 | PD-LA-0006-0004 | PD-LA-0006-9000
Edwards, Ezekiel (New York) show/hide docs
PD-LA-0006-0001 | PD-LA-0006-0002 | PD-LA-0006-0004 | PD-LA-0006-9000
Hamilton, Bruce Warfield (Louisiana) show/hide docs
PD-LA-0006-0004 | PD-LA-0006-9000
Harrison, Justin Paul (Louisiana) show/hide docs
PD-LA-0006-9000
Lellelid, Anna (Louisiana) show/hide docs
PD-LA-0006-0001 | PD-LA-0006-0002 | PD-LA-0006-0004 | PD-LA-0006-9000
Quigley, William Patrick (Louisiana) show/hide docs
PD-LA-0006-0001 | PD-LA-0006-0002 | PD-LA-0006-0004 | PD-LA-0006-9000
Ratner, Emily Faye (Louisiana) show/hide docs
PD-LA-0006-0001 | PD-LA-0006-9000
Sirmon, Candice C. (Louisiana) show/hide docs
PD-LA-0006-0001 | PD-LA-0006-0002 | PD-LA-0006-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Barriere, Jennifer Emily (Louisiana) show/hide docs
PD-LA-0006-9000
Broussard, Maggie A. (Louisiana) show/hide docs
PD-LA-0006-9000
Landis, John M. (Louisiana) show/hide docs
PD-LA-0006-9000
Schmidt, Justin B. (Louisiana) show/hide docs
PD-LA-0006-9000
Surprenant, Mark Christopher (Louisiana) show/hide docs
PD-LA-0006-9000

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