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Case Name Kennedy v. City of Biloxi CJ-MS-0004
Docket / Court 1:15-cv-00348 ( S.D. Miss. )
State/Territory Mississippi
Case Type(s) Criminal Justice (Other)
Special Collection Fines/Fees/Bail Reform (Criminalization of poverty)
Attorney Organization ACLU Chapters (any)
Case Summary
On October 21, 2015, a group of persons incarcerated for unpaid fines and fees stemming from traffic violations and misdemeanors filed this class action in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi. The plaintiffs sued the City of Biloxi, including the Chief of the Biloxi ... read more >
On October 21, 2015, a group of persons incarcerated for unpaid fines and fees stemming from traffic violations and misdemeanors filed this class action in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi. The plaintiffs sued the City of Biloxi, including the Chief of the Biloxi Police Department, a part-time judge of the Biloxi Municipal Court, and Judicial Correction Services (JCS) under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Represented by the ACLU and local counsel, the plaintiffs alleged that by incarcerating them for unpaid fines, the defendants in effect operated a "modern-day debtors’ prison," in violation of their Fourteenth Amendment due process rights and Fourth Amendment rights to freedom from unreasonable seizure. The plaintiffs sought injunctive and declaratory relief as well as compensatory and punitive damages.

Almost immediately, the defendants filed a motion to stay proceedings to concentrate on settlement negotiations. On November 3, 2015, the court granted this motion.

On March 7, 2016, Judge Halil S. Ozerden entered a final judgment of dismissal, with the court retaining jurisdiction to enforce the private settlement agreement. As part of this settlement, the City of Biloxi adopted sweeping reforms and policy changes. These included termination of contracts with for-profit probation companies; adoption of new court procedures and training for city officials; establishment of a public defender office to represent indigent people; and judicial consideration of a person's ability to pay fines at sentencing. The defendants also agreed to pay $75,000 in damages and attorney's fees. The parties agreed that the court would retain jurisdiction over implementation of the settlement for three years.

On September 13, 2016, the City of Biloxi filed the required 60-day status report on the implementation of the settlement agreement. It stated that the City had ceased issuing warrants or incarcerating people for failure to pay fines.

As of November 19, 2018, the case remains ongoing to enforce the settlement.

Ian Sander - 10/02/2016
Nathaniel Flack - 11/19/2018


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Due Process
Equal Protection
Unreasonable search and seizure
Content of Injunction
Other requirements regarding hiring, promotion, retention
Recordkeeping
Training
Defendant-type
Jurisdiction-wide
Law-enforcement
Disability
disability, unspecified
General
Fines/Fees/Bail/Bond
Pattern or Practice
Placement in detention facilities
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 Biloxi, MI
Plaintiff Description Persons incarcerated for unpaid fines and fees stemming from traffic violations and misdemeanors.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations ACLU Chapters (any)
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted Moot
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Damages
Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Settlement
Form of Settlement Private Settlement Agreement
Order Duration 2016 - 2019
Filing Year 2015
Case Ongoing Yes
Additional Resources
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  It's All About the Money, Money, Money: Criminalizing Poverty
https://www.americanbar.org/content/dam/aba/directories/pro_bono_clearinghouse/ejc_2016_68.pdf
Date: Nov. 19, 2018
By: Nusrat J. Choudhury, Lisa Foster, Danielle Elyce Hirsch (American Bar Association)
Citation: It's All About the Money, Money, Money: Criminalizing Poverty, American Bar Association, (March 8, 2016), https://www.americanbar.org/content/dam/aba/directories/pro_bono_clearinghouse/ejc_2016_68.pdf
[ Detail ] [ PDF ] [ External Link ]

Docket(s)
1:15-cv-00348-HSO-JCG (S.D. Miss.)
CJ-MS-0004-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 09/13/2016
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint [ECF# 1]
CJ-MS-0004-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 10/21/2015
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Final Stipulated Settlement Agreement
CJ-MS-0004-0003.pdf | External Link | Detail
Date: 03/15/2016
Source: ACLU
Status Report on Stipulated Settlement Agreement [ECF# 30]
CJ-MS-0004-0002.pdf | Detail
Date: 09/13/2016
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
show all people docs
Judges Gargiulo, John C. Court not on record [Magistrate] show/hide docs
CJ-MS-0004-9000
Ozerden, Halil Suleyman (S.D. Miss.) show/hide docs
CJ-MS-0004-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Choudhury, Nusrat Jahan (New York) show/hide docs
CJ-MS-0004-0001 | CJ-MS-0004-0003 | CJ-MS-0004-9000
Irvin, Charles Baron (Mississippi) show/hide docs
CJ-MS-0004-0001 | CJ-MS-0004-9000
Parker, Dennis D. (New York) show/hide docs
CJ-MS-0004-9000
Simon, Anthony R (Mississippi) show/hide docs
CJ-MS-0004-0001 | CJ-MS-0004-9000
Teeuwissen, Pieter (Mississippi) show/hide docs
CJ-MS-0004-0001 | CJ-MS-0004-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Blessey, Gerlad H. (Mississippi) show/hide docs
CJ-MS-0004-0002 | CJ-MS-0004-0003 | CJ-MS-0004-9000
Gunn, Corban (Mississippi) show/hide docs
CJ-MS-0004-0003 | CJ-MS-0004-9000
Jackson, Michael Leon (Alabama) show/hide docs
CJ-MS-0004-9000
Logsdon, Larry Stephen (Alabama) show/hide docs
CJ-MS-0004-9000
McKnight, Thomas A. Jr. (Alabama) show/hide docs
CJ-MS-0004-9000
Steel, Tere R. (Mississippi) show/hide docs
CJ-MS-0004-9000

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