University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
new search
page permalink
Case Name Daves v. Dallas CJ-TX-0013
Docket / Court 3:18-cv-00154-N ( N.D. Tex. )
State/Territory Texas
Case Type(s) Criminal Justice (Other)
Special Collection Fines/Fees/Bail Reform (Criminalization of poverty)
Attorney Organization ACLU Chapters (any)
Civil Rights Corps
Case Summary
On January 21, 2018, eight residents of Texas who could not afford to post bail filed this class action in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas. The plaintiffs sued Dallas County, the Dallas County Sheriff, the Dallas County Magistrate Judges, the Dallas County Criminal Court ... read more >
On January 21, 2018, eight residents of Texas who could not afford to post bail filed this class action in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas. The plaintiffs sued Dallas County, the Dallas County Sheriff, the Dallas County Magistrate Judges, the Dallas County Criminal Court at Law Judges, and the Dallas County District Court Judges, under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for violations of the Fourteenth Amendment. The plaintiffs, represented by the ACLU of Texas and the ACLU Criminal Law Reform Project, the Civil Rights Corps, and the Texas Fair Defense Project, sought declaratory and injunctive relief as well as attorneys’ fees and costs. This case was assigned to Judge David C. Godbey.

According to the plaintiffs, arrestees like the named plaintiffs languished in jail cells because they could not afford to pay the amount of money required for their release. They claimed that it was the policy and practice of Dallas County officials to require the generic, predetermined amount for bail without first considering the person’s ability to pay and without making the substantive findings or providing the procedural due process safeguards that the Constitution required. The plaintiffs claimed that, in operating a wealth-based detention system, the defendants had violated the plaintiffs' equal protection and due process rights.

On the same day the complaint was filed, the plaintiff moved for class certification and a preliminary injunction. The plaintiffs asked that the court enjoin the defendant County from enforcing its wealth-based pretrial detention system and order the County to provide procedural safeguards and substantive findings before detaining any presumptively innocent individuals. Later that month, the plaintiffs filed an amended complaint, adding Faith in Texas and the Texas Organizing Project as plaintiffs. During the weeks between the filing of the initial and amended complaints, Faith in Texas and the Texas Organizing Project had paid the bond of the individuals named in the original complaints.

On March 12, 2018, the defendants filed a motion to stay this case in order to receive guidance from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit on the threshold issue of the proper parties implicated by the plaintiffs’ complaints. On May 2, 2018, Judge Godbey denied this motion because the defendants did not present a “clear case of hardship or inequity” as required to justify a stay.

In April 2018, the each of the defendants filed separate motions to dismiss. The County argued that because the Fifth Circuit had recently confirmed that a sheriff’s practice of following judicial bail orders does not give rise to county liability, Dallas County could not be liable for the actions of the District Judges or County Criminal Court at Law Judges. See O'Donnell v. Harris County. The defendant County claimed that this case was fundamentally about the State of Texas’ judicial system, over which Dallas County had absolutely no control.

The Dallas County Sheriff and the Dallas County Magistrate Judges, in their respective motions, argued that they were not proper parties to this action because neither of them controlled the relevant practices and policies. The Dallas County Criminal Court at Law Judges argued that the claims against them should be dismissed because the plaintiffs had not exhausted state law claims for redress and because the plaintiffs’ substantive due process claims were improperly brought under the Fourteenth Amendment as opposed to the Fourth and Eighth Amendments. The Dallas County District Court Judges argued that the claims against them should be dismissed because they lacked subject matter jurisdiction.

On September 20, 2018, Judge Godbey issued orders granting the plaintiffs' motions for class certification and for a preliminary injunction. 341 F.Supp.3d 688. The class was certified as "all arrestees who are or will be detained in Dallas County custody because they are unable to pay a secured financial condition of release." The preliminary injunction instructed the defendants to have every arrestee fill out an affidavit with information about how much the detainee could reasonably post in bail. The defendants were to use that information to determine bail amounts rather than the prescheduled amounts at issue.

In the same opinion, Judge Godbey specified that Dallas County and the Magistrate Judges, as employees of Dallas County, were proper defendants for the purpose of the injunction based on O'Donnell. The court also held that the injunction bound the Criminal Court at Law Judges because they promulgated the official policy set by the county. The court found that the Dallas County Sheriff, however, was not a proper defendant and was not bound by the injunction because she did not in any way act as a policymaker with respect to setting bail and merely followed the instructions of the magistrate judges.

While the court found that the plaintiffs were entitled to a preliminary injunction because they had shown a substantial likelihood of success on their equal protection and procedural due process claims, the court found that the plaintiffs had failed to show a substantial likelihood of success on their substantive due process claim. Specifically, under the recent Fifth Circuit precedent cited in the case, the plaintiffs had not shown that indigent plaintiffs who could not afford bail would automatically be released unless a compelling reason existed to detain them. The plaintiffs appealed this ruling, as well as the holding that the Sheriff was not bound by the preliminary injunction, to the Fifth Circuit.

As of February 16, 2019, briefing for the appeal of the preliminary injunction was underway at the Fifth Circuit and the case is ongoing.

Jake Parker - 06/13/2018
Brian Remlinger - 02/16/2019


compress summary

- click to show/hide ALL -
Issues and Causes of Action
click to show/hide detail
Issues
Constitutional Clause
Due Process
Equal Protection
Content of Injunction
Preliminary relief granted
Defendant-type
Jurisdiction-wide
Law-enforcement
General
Access to lawyers or judicial system
Bail/Bond
Courts
Disparate Impact
Fines/Fees/Bail/Bond
Placement in detention facilities
Poverty/homelessness
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Defendant(s) Dallas County, Texas
Judges of Dallas County Criminal Courts at Law
Judges of Dallas County Criminal District Courts
Plaintiff Description All arrestees who are or will be detained in Dallas County custody because they are unable to pay a secured financial condition of release.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations ACLU Chapters (any)
Civil Rights Corps
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted Yes
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party None Yet / None
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Preliminary injunction / Temp. restraining order
Source of Relief Litigation
Filing Year 2018
Case Ongoing Yes
Additional Resources
click to show/hide detail
  See this case at CourtListener.com (May provide additional documents and, for active cases, real-time alerts)
Docket(s)
3:18−cv−00154−N (N.D. Tex.)
CJ-TX-0013-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 02/07/2019
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Class Action Complaint [ECF# 1]
CJ-TX-0013-0002.pdf | Detail
Date: 01/21/2018
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
First Amended Complaint [ECF# 10]
CJ-TX-0013-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 01/30/2018
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum Opinion and Order [ECF# 164] (341 F.Supp.3d 688) (N.D. Tex.)
CJ-TX-0013-0003.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 09/20/2018
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Preliminary Injunction [ECF# 165] (N.D. Tex.)
CJ-TX-0013-0004.pdf | Detail
Date: 09/20/2018
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order Certifying Class [ECF# 166] (2018 WL 4537202) (N.D. Tex.)
CJ-TX-0013-0005.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 09/20/2018
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
show all people docs
Judges Godbey, David C. (N.D. Tex.) show/hide docs
CJ-TX-0013-0003 | CJ-TX-0013-0004 | CJ-TX-0013-0005 | CJ-TX-0013-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Animashaun, Akeeb Dami (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
CJ-TX-0013-9000
Buskey, Brandon (New York) show/hide docs
CJ-TX-0013-0001 | CJ-TX-0013-0002 | CJ-TX-0013-9000
Cohn, Kali Alanna (Texas) show/hide docs
CJ-TX-0013-0001 | CJ-TX-0013-0002 | CJ-TX-0013-9000
Dharia, Premal T. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
CJ-TX-0013-0001 | CJ-TX-0013-0002 | CJ-TX-0013-9000
Gerrick, Emily (Texas) show/hide docs
CJ-TX-0013-9000
Karakatsanis, Alec (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
CJ-TX-0013-0001 | CJ-TX-0013-0002 | CJ-TX-0013-9000
Pringle, Susanne Ashley (Texas) show/hide docs
CJ-TX-0013-0001 | CJ-TX-0013-0002 | CJ-TX-0013-9000
Rossi, Elizabeth Anne (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
CJ-TX-0013-0001 | CJ-TX-0013-0002 | CJ-TX-0013-9000
Segura, Andre (Texas) show/hide docs
CJ-TX-0013-0001 | CJ-TX-0013-0002 | CJ-TX-0013-9000
Trigilio, Trisha (Texas) show/hide docs
CJ-TX-0013-0001 | CJ-TX-0013-0002 | CJ-TX-0013-9000
Woods, Andrea (New York) show/hide docs
CJ-TX-0013-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Anastasiadis, Demetri (Texas) show/hide docs
CJ-TX-0013-9000
Ardolf, Tammy Jean (Texas) show/hide docs
CJ-TX-0013-9000
Brutus, John (Texas) show/hide docs
CJ-TX-0013-9000
David, Katharine Davenport (Texas) show/hide docs
CJ-TX-0013-9000
Harlan, Peter L (Texas) show/hide docs
CJ-TX-0013-9000
Hudson, Eric Alan (Texas) show/hide docs
CJ-TX-0013-9000
Lindsey, Christopher Lee (Texas) show/hide docs
CJ-TX-0013-9000
Morgan, Philip James (Texas) show/hide docs
CJ-TX-0013-9000
Stafford, Michael A. (Texas) show/hide docs
CJ-TX-0013-9000
Stephens, Benjamin R (Texas) show/hide docs
CJ-TX-0013-9000
Varela, Enrique Manuel (Texas) show/hide docs
CJ-TX-0013-9000
Warren, Kelsey (Texas) show/hide docs
CJ-TX-0013-9000

- click to show/hide ALL -

new search
page permalink

- top of page -