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Case Name Cook v. Taylor CJ-AL-0019
Docket / Court 2:18-cv-00977 ( M.D. Ala. )
State/Territory Alabama
Case Type(s) Criminal Justice (Other)
Special Collection Fines/Fees/Bail Reform (Criminalization of poverty)
Attorney Organization Southern Poverty Law Center
Case Summary
Here is the summary I posted on the Clearinghouse, 6/23/2020:

On November 19, 2018, individuals whose driver’s licenses were suspended because of failure to pay traffic tickets filed this putative class action against the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency in the U.S. District Court for ... read more >
Here is the summary I posted on the Clearinghouse, 6/23/2020:

On November 19, 2018, individuals whose driver’s licenses were suspended because of failure to pay traffic tickets filed this putative class action against the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Alabama. Represented by the Southern Poverty Law Center, the plaintiffs sought declaratory and injunctive relief, claiming under 42 U.S.C. §1983 that Alabama’s practice of suspending driver’s licenses without procedural protection violated the Equal Protection and Due Process clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment. The case was assigned to Judge William Keith Watkins.

A provision in the Alabama Rules of Criminal Procedure authorized courts to order the suspension of driver's licenses without notice, hearing, or inquiry, for nonpayment of traffic tickets. The plaintiffs failed to pay traffic tickets because of their financial difficulty and as a consequence, their driver’s licenses were suspended. Because they lived in rural areas where public transportation was unavailable, this left them without transportation between work, home, education, and medical care.

On November 19, 2018, the plaintiffs filed a motion for preliminary injunction; on December 21, 2018, the state moved to dismiss.

On May 1, 2019, the court issued orders on a series of motions. First, it denied the plaintiffs’ motions for preliminary injunction. Because the plaintiffs had outstanding traffic tickets in addition to the tickets at issue in the case, and the court therefore could not restore the plaintiffs' driver's licenses even if the plaintiffs prevailed in the case, the court found that the plaintiffs lacked Article III standing. As the court determined that the plaintiffs lacked standing to bring suit, it dismissed the action for lack of jurisdiction. Second, the court denied the plaintiffs’ motion for class certification. The court determined that as the plaintiffs lacked standing, class certification is inappropriate. Third, the court found that it need not decide the merits of the defendants’ claims to dismiss. 2019 WL 1938794.

The court dismissed the case with prejudice.

Chiaki Nojiri - 02/20/2019
Bogyung Lim - 06/23/2020


compress summary

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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Due Process
Due Process: Procedural Due Process
Equal Protection
Defendant-type
Jurisdiction-wide
Law-enforcement
General
Disparate Impact
Fines/Fees/Bail/Bond
Poverty/homelessness
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Defendant(s) Secretary of the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency
Plaintiff Description A putative class of individuals whose driver's licenses were suspended because they couldn't afford to pay their traffic tickets.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations Southern Poverty Law Center
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted No
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party Defendant
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief None
Source of Relief None
Filed 11/19/2018
Case Closing Year 2019
Case Ongoing No
Additional Resources
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  See this case at CourtListener.com (May provide additional documents and, for active cases, real-time alerts)
  Lakendra Cook, et al. v. Hal Taylor
Southern Poverty Law Center
Date: Nov. 19, 2018
By: Southern Poverty Law Center
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

Docket(s)
2:2018-cv-00977 (M.D. Ala.)
CJ-AL-0019-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/01/2019
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint [ECF# 1]
CJ-AL-0019-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 11/19/2018
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum Opinion and Order [ECF# 35] (2019 WL 1938794) (M.D. Ala.)
CJ-AL-0019-0002.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 05/01/2019
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
show all people docs
Judges Walker, Susan Jane Court not on record show/hide docs
CJ-AL-0019-9000
Watkins, William Keith (M.D. Ala.) show/hide docs
CJ-AL-0019-0002 | CJ-AL-0019-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Davis, Danielle E. (Alabama) show/hide docs
CJ-AL-0019-0001 | CJ-AL-0019-9000
West, Micah (Alabama) show/hide docs
CJ-AL-0019-0001 | CJ-AL-0019-9000
Zampierin, Sara (Alabama) show/hide docs
CJ-AL-0019-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Barnes, Meridith (Alabama) show/hide docs
CJ-AL-0019-9000
Chynoweth, Brad A. (Alabama) show/hide docs
CJ-AL-0019-9000
Howell, Laura Elizabeth (Alabama) show/hide docs
CJ-AL-0019-9000

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