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Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
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Case Name Justice Network v. Craighead County CJ-AR-0005
Docket / Court 3:17-cv-00169 ( E.D. Ark. )
Additional Docket(s) 17-03770  [ 17-3770 ]
State/Territory Arkansas
Case Type(s) Criminal Justice (Other)
Special Collection Fines/Fees/Bail Reform (Criminalization of poverty)
Case Summary
On June 30, 2017, the plaintiff, a private probation company operating in Craighead County, called the Justice Network, filed this lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas. The plaintiff sued, under 42 U.S.C. §1983, two district court judges, Craighead ... read more >
On June 30, 2017, the plaintiff, a private probation company operating in Craighead County, called the Justice Network, filed this lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas. The plaintiff sued, under 42 U.S.C. §1983, two district court judges, Craighead County, and the various cities that the judges had jurisdiction over in their capacity as a city judge. The plaintiff, represented by private counsel, sought injunctive and monetary relief, claiming violations of the Contracts Clause and Takings Clause of the United States Constitution. The plaintiff alleged that the two defendant-judges instituted an “Amnesty Program” that forgave fees owed by probation clients to the plaintiff, which interfered with the contractual relationship that existed between the plaintiff and its probation clients. Furthermore, the plaintiff alleged that the defendant judges used their judicial office and powers to unlawfully take plaintiff’s substantial property rights without due process of law.

The defendants moved to dismiss the complaint on August 9, 2017. They alleged that the plaintiff had failed to state a claim for which relief could be granted. On October 24, 2017, the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under the Law filed an amicus brief in favor of the defendants. The Lawyers' Committee argued that the defendants were justified in ending local courts' relationship with Justice Network because it made money by trapping poor minorities who were consigned to probation for petty crimes into a cycle of debt to ensure their imprisonment. On November 28, 2017, District Judge James M. Moody Jr. granted the defendants' motion to dismiss, and held that the two judges were entitled to absolute judicial immunity against all of the plaintiff’s claims. He further held that the County and City defendants were not liable because the two judges were not authorized policymakers of the City and County so that the actions of the defendant judges should not be imputed to the City and County defendants. 2017 WL 5762397.

On December 20, 2017, the plaintiff appealed Judge Moody Jr.’s order to the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit. As of January 16, 2018, the case is still pending in the Eighth Circuit.

Lisa Limb - 01/14/2018


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Takings
Defendant-type
Jurisdiction-wide
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Defendant(s) Craighead County, Arkansas
Plaintiff Description A private probation company operating in Craighead County, Arkansas.
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party Defendant
Public Int. Lawyer No
Nature of Relief None
Source of Relief None
Filing Year 2017
Case Ongoing Yes
Additional Resources
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  Is There a Constitutional Right to Cash in on the Poor?
Date: Sep. 11, 2017
By: Andrew Cohen (The Marshall Project)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

Docket(s)
3:17-cv-00169 (E.D. Ark.)
CJ-AR-0005-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 12/27/2017
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Plaintiff's Complaint for Violation of Civil Rights and State Law; for Declaratory Relief and Injunctive Relief and Damages (Jury Trial Demanded) [ECF# 1]
CJ-AR-0005-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 06/30/2017
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Brief of Amicus Curiae the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law [ECF# 50]
CJ-AR-0005-0003.pdf | Detail
Date: 10/24/2017
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order [ECF# 56] (E.D. Ark.)
CJ-AR-0005-0002.pdf | Detail
Date: 11/28/2017
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges Moody, James Maxwell Jr. (E.D. Ark.)
CJ-AR-0005-0002 | CJ-AR-0005-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Edwards, John Timothy (Tennessee)
CJ-AR-0005-0001 | CJ-AR-0005-9000
Fishman, Randall J (Tennessee)
CJ-AR-0005-0001 | CJ-AR-0005-9000
Horowitz, Joseph E (Tennessee)
CJ-AR-0005-0001 | CJ-AR-0005-9000
McCormack, Kevin (Tennessee)
CJ-AR-0005-0001 | CJ-AR-0005-9000
Townley, Richard S (Tennessee)
CJ-AR-0005-0001 | CJ-AR-0005-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Hollingsworth, Patrick E. (Arkansas)
CJ-AR-0005-9000
Hurst, Delena C (Arkansas)
CJ-AR-0005-9000
Ohm, Ralph C. (Arkansas)
CJ-AR-0005-9000
Owens, Jason E. (Arkansas)
CJ-AR-0005-9000
Wilkerson, John Lennon (Arkansas)
CJ-AR-0005-9000
Other Lawyers Dell'Armi, Joseph (New York)
CJ-AR-0005-0003
Greenbaum, Jon M. (District of Columbia)
CJ-AR-0005-0003

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