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Case Name Jones v. Clark County CJ-KY-0005
Docket / Court 5:15-cv-00350-JMH ( E.D. Ky. )
State/Territory Kentucky
Case Type(s) Criminal Justice (Other)
Special Collection Fines/Fees/Bail Reform (Criminalization of poverty)
Case Summary
On November 30, 2015, a resident of Clark County, Kentucky, who was arrested and admitted to jail filed this putative class action lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky against the Clark County Detention Center (Jail). The complaint alleged that the Jail wrongly ... read more >
On November 30, 2015, a resident of Clark County, Kentucky, who was arrested and admitted to jail filed this putative class action lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky against the Clark County Detention Center (Jail). The complaint alleged that the Jail wrongly deprived the plaintiffs of property without due process of law and charged costs of their incarceration absent court order, including for plaintiffs who were subsequently acquitted. The complaint alleged that this violated Kentucky Revised Statutes (KRS) §441.265, and the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution. Plaintiffs were represented by private counsel.

The individual plaintiff who filed the suit had been arrested and admitted to the Jail on October 26, 2013; he remained incarcerated until his release on December 15, 2014. Plaintiff maintained that the criminal charges for which he was incarcerated were dismissed midway on April 2, 2015, because the plaintiff proved he was entirely innocent of such offenses. After release, plaintiff received a written demand from the Jail to pay in excess of $4,000 in fees relating to his incarceration. As of November 30, 2015, the plaintiff paid $20 and refused to pay the remaining balance on the grounds that KRS §441.265 allowed a jail to charge detainees the costs of their confinement only with a court order and consideration of the detainee's financial obligations. Moreover, the plaintiff alleged, the jail could not charge innocent detainees and was required to accounting for the funds collected. The plaintiff further maintained that if KRS §441.265 is interpreted otherwise, then it violated the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution and the Kentucky Constitution.

The plaintiff sought both compensatory and punitive damages arising from the conduct of the defendants, and declaratory judgment and permanent injunction of the practice.

On January 14, 2016, the defendants moved to dismiss plaintiff's claims. On March 11, 2016, the court granted the defendants' motion and dismissed all claims alleged in the complaint with prejudice, and all pending motions were denied moot.

In the opinion, district judge Joseph Hood found that the plaintiffs were "prisoners" within the definition of KRS §441.005(3), which allows courts to impose detention fees without the order of a sentencing court and without respect to guilt or innocence. Judge Hood found, moreover, that the facts pleaded did not rise to the level of a substantive due process violation and that the state had a legitimate interest in recouping costs from inmates. Accordingly, on March 11, 2016, the court ordered judgment in favor of the defendants. 2016 WL 1050743.

The plaintiffs appealed. On December 19, 2016, the 6th Circuit affirmed in an unpublished opinion. 2016 WL 7338530. In that opinion, by Judge Rodgers, the Court of Appeals explained that at oral argument, counsel for the defendants "disavowed any further
efforts to obtain the $4,000 beyond the $20 already received." Because the county was no longer trying to collect the bill, the court said, plaintiff didn't have a property interest to assert.

Plaintiff sought rehearing en banc, but the 6th Circuit denied that motion. This case is closed.

MJ Koo - 01/27/2017


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Due Process
General
Placement in detention facilities
Quality of representation
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
State law
Defendant(s) Clark County, Kentucky
Plaintiff Description Individuals who, while incarcerated at the Kentucky Clark County Jail, were wrongly assessed fees for their incarceration without due process of law.
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted No
Prevailing Party Defendant
Public Int. Lawyer No
Nature of Relief None
Source of Relief None
Case Closing Year 2017
Case Ongoing No
Docket(s)
5:15-cv-350 (E.D. Ky.)
CJ-KY-0005-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 12/19/2016
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Class Action Complaint [ECF# 1]
CJ-KY-0005-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 11/30/2015
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judgment [ECF# 10] (E.D. Ky.)
CJ-KY-0005-0003.pdf | Detail
Date: 03/11/2016
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum, Opinion, and Order [ECF# 11] (2016 WL 1050743) (E.D. Ky.)
CJ-KY-0005-0002.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 03/11/2016
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order [Ct. of App. ECF# 34] (666 Fed.Appx. 483)
CJ-KY-0005-0006.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 12/19/2016
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges Hood, Joseph Martin (E.D. Ky.)
CJ-KY-0005-0002 | CJ-KY-0005-0003 | CJ-KY-0005-9000
Kethledge, Raymond M. (Sixth Circuit)
CJ-KY-0005-0006
Merritt, Gilbert Stroud Jr. (Sixth Circuit)
CJ-KY-0005-0006
Rogers, John M. (Sixth Circuit)
CJ-KY-0005-0006
Plaintiff's Lawyers Bathurst, Camille (Kentucky)
CJ-KY-0005-9000
Belzley, Gregory A. (Kentucky)
CJ-KY-0005-0001 | CJ-KY-0005-9000
Boyd, Matthew Wayne (Kentucky)
CJ-KY-0005-0001 | CJ-KY-0005-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Mando, Jeffrey C. (Kentucky)
CJ-KY-0005-9000

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