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Case Name Brown v. Madison County PN-MS-0001
Docket / Court 3:17-cv-00347-WHB-LRA ( S.D. Miss. )
State/Territory Mississippi
Case Type(s) Policing
Special Collection Post-WalMart decisions on class certification
Attorney Organization ACLU Chapters (any)
Southern Poverty Law Center
Case Summary
On May 8, 2017, ten residents of Madison County filed this class action in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi. The plaintiffs sued Madison County under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, filing both class action-based and individual-based claims. The plaintiffs, represented by the ... read more >
On May 8, 2017, ten residents of Madison County filed this class action in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi. The plaintiffs sued Madison County under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, filing both class action-based and individual-based claims. The plaintiffs, represented by the ACLU and the Southern Poverty Law Center, sought declaratory and injunctive relief as well as monetary relief and attorneys’ fees. The case was assigned to District Judge William H. Barbour, Jr.

In their complaint, the plaintiffs pointed out that, although only 38% of Madison County residents were black, approximately 73% of arrests in Madison County between May and September 2016 were of black individuals. Black individuals were nearly five times more likely to be arrested compared to white individuals. The plaintiffs claimed that, in implementing a coordinated top-down program of methodically targeting black individuals for suspicionless searches and seizures while they are driving their cars, walking in their neighborhoods, and even just spending time in their own homes, the defendants had violated the plaintiffs’ Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment rights. This program included discriminatory practices in the use of vehicular roadblocks, pedestrian checkpoints, and warrantless and consentless searches black residents' homes. The plaintiffs claimed that the defendants used excessive force, made unreasonable searches and seizures, and violated the plaintiffs’ right to equal protection.

In July 2017, the parties began discovery. In February 2018, the defendants filed two motions to dismiss the claims of two specific defendants for failure to prosecute, arguing that the two plaintiffs failed to respond to interrogatories, prejudicing the defendants. The judge granted these two motions, dismissing without prejudice.

In March and April 2018, the defendants filed seven different motions for summary judgment. These motions targeted the various claims of individual plaintiffs and some class action claims. In all of these motions, the defendants argued that none of the plaintiffs had evidence to support their claims of intentional race discrimination. The defendants further alleged that some of the claims were time barred by statutes of limitation.

On March 14, 2018, the plaintiffs filed a motion to certify three classes. The first, the targeting class, was defined as all black persons who presently or in the future will reside in or travel through Madison County. The second, the roadblock subclass, was defined as all black persons who travel or will travel by car through majority-black areas of Madison County. The third, the pedestrian stop subclass, was defined as all black persons who travel or will travel by foot in Madison County’s majority-black neighborhoods.

On April 13, 2018, the defendants moved for summary judgment again, this time with respect to the target class and the pedestrian stop subclass. The defendants argued that the complaint presented no evidence of a top-down policy of intentional race discrimination.

On January 4, 2019, the court denied the plaintiff’s motion to certify class, finding that the membership in all of the proposed classes could not be ascertained, and there was doubt as to whether all of the class members were harmed in the same way. The court noted that plaintiffs could amend their complaint to cure these defects, and the plaintiffs did so on February 4, 2019 and filed a new motion to certify class on the same day. The case was had been reassigned to District Judge Carlton W. Reeves on January 15, 2019.

On February 12, 2019, the defendants moved for a settlement conference and to stay proceedings. The court granted both motions on February 26, and also granted the plaintiff’s motion to file a second amended complaint. The parties engaged in a settlement conference on June 10, 2019, and the plaintiffs were allowed to file their second amended complaint. The parties continued to negotiate in settlement discussions before the magistrate judge, until they filed a Joint Motion to Approve Consent Judgment on September 23, 2019. The court granted the motion on October 9, 2019, and the case was dismissed with prejudice on October 23, 2019.

The resolution was captured in three documents: the Consent Decree, the Settlement Agreement, and the Apartment Incident Agreement. The parties agreed to maintain the confidentiality of the Settlement Agreement and the Apartment Incident Agreement.

The Consent Decree enjoins the Madison County Sheriff’s Department (MCSD) to implement and provide training on three new policies: an Unbiased Policing Policy, a Checkpoint Policy, and a Pedestrian Stops and Enforcement Policy. The Consent Decree also requires Madison County and MCSD to establish a five-member Community Advisory Board with the authority to (1) review MCSD Data regarding vehicular checkpoints and pedestrian stops, (2) receive civilian complaints concerning the MCSD, (3) make recommendations to the MCSD about its compliance with the Consent Decree, and (4) file enforcement proceedings against Defendants following a process outlined in the Consent Decree. The Consent Decree was determined to remain in effect for four years. The case is ongoing, given the ongoing nature of the consent decree.

Jake Parker - 06/06/2018
Justin Hill - 11/19/2019


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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
Develop anti-discrimination policy
Discrimination Prohibition
Monitoring
Provide antidiscrimination training
Training
Defendant-type
Law-enforcement
Discrimination-basis
Race discrimination
General
Disparate Treatment
Excessive force
False arrest
Pattern or Practice
Racial profiling
Search policies
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Race
Black
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Declaratory Judgment Act, 28 U.S.C. § 2201
Defendant(s) Madison County
Plaintiff Description All Black persons who presently or in the future will reside in or travel through Madison County.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations ACLU Chapters (any)
Southern Poverty Law Center
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted No
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Declaratory Judgment
Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Settlement
Form of Settlement Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree
Order Duration 2019 - 2023
Filed 05/08/2017
Case Ongoing Yes
Additional Resources
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  See this case at CourtListener.com (May provide additional documents and, for active cases, real-time alerts)
Docket(s)
3:17-cv-00347-WHB-LRA (S.D. Miss.)
PN-MS-0001-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 10/23/2019
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Class Action Complaint for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief and Individual Damages [ECF# 1]
PN-MS-0001-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/08/2017
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Opinion and Order [ECF# 340] (2019 WL 112783) (S.D. Miss.)
PN-MS-0001-0002.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 01/04/2019
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Second Amended Class Action Complaint for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief and Individual Damages Demand for Jury Trial [ECF# 363]
PN-MS-0001-0003.pdf | Detail
Date: 06/11/2019
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order Granting Motion for Entry of Consent Decree [ECF# 374] (2019 WL 5105323) (S.D. Miss.)
PN-MS-0001-0004.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 10/11/2019
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
show all people docs
Judges Anderson, Linda Randle (S.D. Miss.) [Magistrate] show/hide docs
PN-MS-0001-9000
Barbour, William Henry Jr. (S.D. Miss.) show/hide docs
PN-MS-0001-0002 | PN-MS-0001-9000
Reeves, Carlton Wayne (S.D. Miss.) show/hide docs
PN-MS-0001-0004 | PN-MS-0001-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Chan, Yukiu (New York) show/hide docs
PN-MS-0001-0001 | PN-MS-0001-9000
Choudhri, Nihara Karim (New York) show/hide docs
PN-MS-0001-0001 | PN-MS-0001-0003 | PN-MS-0001-0004 | PN-MS-0001-9000
Edwards, Flora (New York) show/hide docs
PN-MS-0001-0001
Edwards, Ezekiel (New York) show/hide docs
PN-MS-0001-0003 | PN-MS-0001-0004 | PN-MS-0001-9000
Gochman, Janet (New York) show/hide docs
PN-MS-0001-0001 | PN-MS-0001-0003 | PN-MS-0001-0004 | PN-MS-0001-9000
Jarrett, Brooke (New York) show/hide docs
PN-MS-0001-0003 | PN-MS-0001-0004 | PN-MS-0001-9000
Lee, Jumin (New York) show/hide docs
PN-MS-0001-9000
Rethy, Isaac (New York) show/hide docs
PN-MS-0001-0001 | PN-MS-0001-0003 | PN-MS-0001-0004 | PN-MS-0001-9000
Robinson, Jeffery (New York) show/hide docs
PN-MS-0001-0001
Shields, Christopher K. (New York) show/hide docs
PN-MS-0001-0003 | PN-MS-0001-9000
Sivashanker, Kavitha Satya (New York) show/hide docs
PN-MS-0001-0003 | PN-MS-0001-0004 | PN-MS-0001-9000
Thames, Landon P (Mississippi) show/hide docs
PN-MS-0001-9000
Thomas, Landon P. (Mississippi) show/hide docs
PN-MS-0001-9000
Tom, Joshua F. (Mississippi) show/hide docs
PN-MS-0001-0001 | PN-MS-0001-0003 | PN-MS-0001-0004 | PN-MS-0001-9000
Wu, Paloma (Mississippi) show/hide docs
PN-MS-0001-0001 | PN-MS-0001-9000
Youngwood, Jonathan K. (New York) show/hide docs
PN-MS-0001-0001 | PN-MS-0001-0003 | PN-MS-0001-0004 | PN-MS-0001-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Cowan, Rebecca Barge (Mississippi) show/hide docs
PN-MS-0001-9000
Cowan, Charles E. (Mississippi) show/hide docs
PN-MS-0001-9000
Dare, Jason Edward (Mississippi) show/hide docs
PN-MS-0001-9000
Graves, James Earl Jr. (Mississippi) show/hide docs
PN-MS-0001-9000
Hester, J. Lawson (Mississippi) show/hide docs
PN-MS-0001-9000
Nobile, T. Russell (Mississippi) show/hide docs
PN-MS-0001-9000
Ross, Charles E. (Mississippi) show/hide docs
PN-MS-0001-9000
Snell, Katherine Bryant (Mississippi) show/hide docs
PN-MS-0001-9000
Wallace, Michael B. (Mississippi) show/hide docs
PN-MS-0001-0004 | PN-MS-0001-9000
Other Lawyers Gault, William I. Jr. (Mississippi) show/hide docs
PN-MS-0001-9000

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