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Case Name Ross v. Blount CJ-MI-0008
Docket / Court 2:19-cv-11076-LJM-EAS ( E.D. Mich. )
State/Territory Michigan
Case Type(s) Criminal Justice (Other)
Special Collection Fines/Fees/Bail Reform (Criminalization of poverty)
Attorney Organization ACLU of Michigan
Case Summary
On April 14, 2019, several pre-trial detainees in Wayne County Jail filed this class-action lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan. The plaintiffs sued the 36th District Court in Detroit, the Wayne County Sheriff's Office (WCSO), the Chief Judge, and five ... read more >
On April 14, 2019, several pre-trial detainees in Wayne County Jail filed this class-action lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan. The plaintiffs sued the 36th District Court in Detroit, the Wayne County Sheriff's Office (WCSO), the Chief Judge, and five Magistrates of the 26th District Court in their official capacities under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The plaintiffs, represented by the ACLU and private counsel, sought declaratory and injunctive relief, claiming violations of the Fourteenth Amendment's Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses and the Sixth Amendment's Right to Counsel. The case was assigned to Judge Laurie J. Michelson.

The plaintiffs alleged that the defendants unconstitutionally detained them in Wayne County Jail because they were unable to pay for their release and that the defendants' current arraignment policies created a wealth-based detention system that kept the plaintiffs in jail for their inability to afford bail. All of the plaintiffs included in the complaints were arrested and had their arraignment hearings held in the 36th District Court in Detroit. The plaintiffs were not provided attorneys during their arraignments and in each instance, the plaintiffs were ordered to pay cash bail amounts beyond their financial abilities. The arraignment policies provided two different condition forms: (1) 10% bail condition, which required the plaintiff to pay 10% or the real estate equivalent of their bail amount in order to be released; or (2) full cash bail condition, which required the plaintiff to pay the full amount. The magistrate judges that set the plaintiffs' bail amounts did not inquire whether the plaintiffs could afford their set bail amounts. When plaintiffs notified the court that they were unable to pay bail, they were sent to Wayne County Jail.

The plaintiffs also sought class certification of all pre-trial detainees that had their bail set during arraignment hearings held in the 36th District Court and as a result of the court's bail policies were detained because they could not afford their imposed cash bail conditions.

On June 10, 2019, WCSO moved to dismiss the complaint. They alleged that the plaintiffs could not seek injunctive relief under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 because: they were an entity entitled to quasi-judicial immunity where declaratory relief was available; under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, the plaintiffs failed to state a claim for municipal liability because obeying court orders is not considered a policy of the municipality; and the plaintiffs failed to demonstrate that clearly established law would have put WCSO on notice that obeying a court order for pretrial incarceration would expose it to liability under 42 U.S.C. § 1983.

On June 19, 2019, the Chief Judge moved to dismiss plaintiffs' class action complaint.

A stipulated stay order was entered on August 23, 2019 to allow time for discussions between the parties as to resolution of the matter. Meanwhile, the Detroit News reported that a former Detroit magistrate judge filed a federal whistleblower lawsuit alleging that she had been fired after raising concerns about violations of defendants' rights in the 36th District Court.

As of April 12, 2021, the case remains stayed. However, the court has held telephone status conferences, and the case remains ongoing.

Kimberly Goshey - 06/11/2019
Hafsa Tout - 11/13/2019
Jonah Hudson-Erdman - 04/12/2021


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Assistance of counsel (6th Amendment)
Due Process
Equal Protection
Defendant-type
Law-enforcement
General
Access to lawyers or judicial system
Disparate Impact
Fines/Fees/Bail/Bond
Over/Unlawful Detention
Placement in detention facilities
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Declaratory Judgment Act, 28 U.S.C. § 2201
Defendant(s) State of Michigan
Wayne County
Plaintiff Description Pre-trial detainees in Wayne County Jail who were detained because they could not afford the imposed cash bail conditions set by the 36th District Court in Detroit.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations ACLU of Michigan
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status outcome Pending
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party None Yet / None
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief None yet
Source of Relief None yet
Filed 04/14/2019
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)
  Resolving Tensions between Constitutional Rights: Use Immunity in Concurrent or Related Proceedings
Columbia Law Review
Date: Jan. 1, 1976
By: William R. Stein (Columbia Law School Law Student)
Citation: William R. Stein, Resolving Tensions between Constitutional Rights: Use Immunity in Concurrent or Related Proceedings, 76 COLUM. L. REV. 674 (1976)
[ Detail ] [ PDF ] [ External Link ]

Court Docket(s)
E.D. Mich.
04/12/2021
2:19-cv-11076-LJM-EAS
CJ-MI-0008-9000.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
E.D. Mich.
04/14/2019
Class Action Complaint [ECF# 1]
CJ-MI-0008-0001.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
show all people docs
Judges Michelson, Laurie Jill (E.D. Mich.) show/hide docs
CJ-MI-0008-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Korobkin, Daniel S. (Michigan) show/hide docs
CJ-MI-0008-0001 | CJ-MI-0008-9000
Lewis, Aaron M. (California) show/hide docs
CJ-MI-0008-0001
Mayor, Philip Edwin (Michigan) show/hide docs
CJ-MI-0008-0001 | CJ-MI-0008-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Burrell, Aaron V. (Michigan) show/hide docs
CJ-MI-0008-9000
Holmes, Martin D. (Tennessee) show/hide docs
CJ-MI-0008-9000
Kwapis, Lauren A (Michigan) show/hide docs
CJ-MI-0008-9000
Petz, Scott A (Michigan) show/hide docs
CJ-MI-0008-9000
Sobo, Alma (Michigan) show/hide docs
CJ-MI-0008-9000
Stella, Davidde Alessandro (Michigan) show/hide docs
CJ-MI-0008-9000

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