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Case Name Moran v. Landrum-Johnson CJ-LA-0013
Docket / Court 2:19-cv-13553-CJB-KWR ( E.D. La. )
Additional Docket(s) 20-cv-1275  [ 20-1275 ]  Eastern District of LA (U.S.)
State/Territory Louisiana
Case Type(s) Criminal Justice (Other)
Special Collection Fines/Fees/Bail Reform (Criminalization of poverty)
Attorney Organization Civil Rights Corps
MacArthur Justice Center
Case Summary
On November 11, 2019, a pretrial detainee filed this class-action lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana alleging that twelve judges of the Orleans Parish Criminal District Court ("OPCDC") unlawfully imposed secured financial conditions of release in an amount that ... read more >
On November 11, 2019, a pretrial detainee filed this class-action lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana alleging that twelve judges of the Orleans Parish Criminal District Court ("OPCDC") unlawfully imposed secured financial conditions of release in an amount that individuals cannot afford, without any inquiry into or findings concerning their ability to pay or alternatives to incarceration. The lawsuit was brought under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and 28 U.S.C. §§ 2201– 02 alleging violations of the Due Process and Equal Protection clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment and seeking declaratory relief. The Plaintiff, represented by the MacArthur Justice Center and Civil Rights Corps, sued on behalf of a putative class consisting of all individuals with pending state misdemeanor or felony cases who would, after acceptance of their charges by the District Attorney, appear before the Defendant Judges for proceedings concerning pretrial release.

The complaint alleged that the Defendant judges’ imposition of bail without inquiring whether the arrestee could pay it constituted de facto orders of pretrial detention for those unable to pay. This constitutional violation was allegedly incentivized by the Defendants’ institutional financial conflict of interest. If (and only if) an arrestee uses a commercial surety to secure pretrial release, the OPCDC judges receive 0.8% of the amount of that bond that goes into a general fund used to pay a variety of expenses related to the judiciary. The Plaintiff filed an amended complaint on December 20 which added one more Plaintiff to represent the class.

The case was initially assigned to Judge Greg Gerard Guidry, but after he recused himself it was reassigned to Judge Carl Barbier. It was then transferred to Judge Eldon Falon who oversaw the proceedings in Caliste v. Cantrell, a similar case that alleged improper bail practices against a magistrate judge in the Criminal District Court. Read more about Caliste v. Cantrell here.

On March 13, 2020, the Defendants moved to dismiss the claims for lack of jurisdiction. The Defendants argued that the Plaintiffs’ claim was not redressible because the court cannot eliminate the Judges’ roles as both adjudicators of criminal matters and administrators of the general fund. Defendants argued that Louisiana law established the Judges’ role as adjudicators and fund administrators, and the Plaintiffs attacked the Judges’ impartiality but did not challenge the constitutionality of the Louisiana statutes. The defendants filed a second motion to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction on March 31.

A hearing was held on May 27, 2020 regarding Plaintiffs’ motion to certify the class and both of Defendants’ motions to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction. Also, Judge Fallon granted Plaintiffs’ motion to consolidate this case with Matthews v. Herman (No. 20-cv-1275) as the cases involved common parties and questions of law. 2020 WL 3036065.

The Defendants also filed a motion to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction on July 6, contending that the injuries were too speculative and could not be attributed to any particular judge. On August 21, Judge Fallon denied the Plaintiffs' motion to certify, finding that there was not sufficient evidence to support the assertion that the Defendant-judges acted in a uniform manner. Judge Fallon noted that the Plaintiffs could seek certification again after engaging in discovery. In the same order, Judge Fallon also denied the Defendants' motion to dismiss as the Court declined to determine whether the Plaintiffs had standing before deciding the class certification question. 2020 WL 4923626. Additionally, on July 7, the parties agreed to a voluntary dismissal without prejudice of the Plaintiffs' due process claim based on a financial conflict of interest in Defendants’ pretrial detention practices.

As of September 7, the case is ongoing.

Justin Hill - 09/07/2020


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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
General
Courts
Fines/Fees/Bail/Bond
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Declaratory Judgment Act, 28 U.S.C. § 2201
Defendant(s) Orleans Parish Criminal District Court Judges
Plaintiff Description Pretrial detainee, on behalf of other individuals with pending state misdemeanor or felony cases who will, after acceptance of their charges by the District Attorney, appear before the Defendant Judges for proceedings concerning pretrial release.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations Civil Rights Corps
MacArthur Justice Center
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted 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 11/11/2019
Case Ongoing Yes
Case Listing CJ-LA-0008 : Caliste v. Cantrell (E.D. La.)
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)
2:19-cv-13553-EEF-MBN (E.D. La.)
CJ-LA-0013-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 08/06/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Class Action Complaint [ECF# 1]
CJ-LA-0013-0003.pdf | Detail
Date: 11/11/2019
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Amended Class Action Complaint [ECF# 10]
CJ-LA-0013-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 12/20/2019
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order & Reasons [ECF# 67] (2020 WL 4923626) (E.D. La.)
CJ-LA-0013-0002.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 08/21/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
show all people docs
Judges Fallon, Eldon E. (E.D. La.) show/hide docs
CJ-LA-0013-0002 | CJ-LA-0013-9000
North, Michael B. Court not on record [Magistrate] show/hide docs
CJ-LA-0013-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Craig, James W. (Louisiana) show/hide docs
CJ-LA-0013-0001 | CJ-LA-0013-0003 | CJ-LA-0013-9000
Foley, Eric Andrew (Louisiana) show/hide docs
CJ-LA-0013-0001 | CJ-LA-0013-0003 | CJ-LA-0013-9000
Karakatsanis, Alec (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
CJ-LA-0013-0001 | CJ-LA-0013-0003 | CJ-LA-0013-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Duffourc, Mindy Nunez (Louisiana) show/hide docs
CJ-LA-0013-9000
Phayer, Dennis J. (Louisiana) show/hide docs
CJ-LA-0013-9000

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