University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
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Case Name Ryan v. Smith CJ-LA-0014
Docket / Court 3:20-cv-00843-SDD-SDJ ( M.D. La. )
State/Territory Louisiana
Case Type(s) Criminal Justice (Other)
Special Collection COVID-19 (novel coronavirus)
Attorney Organization Advancement Project
MacArthur Justice Center
Case Summary
COVID Summary: This is a class action suit regarding the legality of detention orders that are holding detainees at East Baton Rouge Parish Prison for up to years and detrimental to life during the COVID-19 pandemic. The plaintiffs moved for a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction ... read more >
COVID Summary: This is a class action suit regarding the legality of detention orders that are holding detainees at East Baton Rouge Parish Prison for up to years and detrimental to life during the COVID-19 pandemic. The plaintiffs moved for a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction on December 14, 2020, but withdrew the request for a temporary restraining order in January 2021. A settlement conference is scheduled for March 11, and a joint status report is due on March 21. This case is ongoing.


On December 14, 2020, four individuals who were being held at East Baton Rouge Parish Prison (EBRPP) filed this class action lawsuit against 5 officials of the 19th Judicial District Courthouse, the sheriff, and the warden of EBRPP in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Louisiana. The plaintiffs sued for violations of their Fourteenth and Sixth Amendment rights under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Represented by the MacArthur Justice Center, Advancement Project, and private counsel, the plaintiffs sought declaratory and injunctive relief, release of class members, and attorneys' fees. The case was assigned to Chief Judge Shelly D. Dick and Magistrate Judge Scott D. Johnson.

The plaintiffs alleged that hundreds of individuals, most of whom were poor and black, were confined at EBRPP for up to years as a result of the defendant judicial officials' actions. Specifically, the plaintiffs alleged that the defendants ignored the detainees' likelihood to appear at trial, risk of danger to the community, and ability to pay monetary conditions of release, which violated the Fourteenth Amendment's due process and equal protection clauses. The plaintiffs further alleged that the defendants ignored procedural protections, including failing to provide the detainees notice of hearing, opportunity to present evidence, and assistance to counsel prior to issuing pretrial detention orders, which violated due process. Additionally, they alleged that the defendants denied plaintiffs' counsel to make substantive arguments prior to issuing detention orders in violation of the Sixth Amendment. Lastly, the plaintiffs noted that EBRPP 's dilapidated conditions and history of poor medical care placed the detainees at an increased risk of the COVID-19 pandemic.

On December 14, 2020, the plaintiffs moved to proceed anonymously and for certification of the proposed class of "all individuals who are in the custody of the East baton Rouge Sheriff's office after their arrest and who have been or will be subjected to the bail practices of the Judges and Commissioners of the 19th Judicial District Court." The following day, the plaintiffs filed a motion for a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction against the defendant sheriff and warden. The plaintiffs requested release of the named plaintiffs and for the court to enjoin the defendant sheriff and warden from detaining individuals whose bail conditions were determined at hearings that violated due process and equal protection. The plaintiffs filed declarations from *** pretrial detainees, some of whom have illnesses that make them vulnerable to COVID-19, have had arraignments delayed due to COVID-19, or cite inappropriate social distancing or hygiene practices.

On December 17, the plaintiffs moved for expedited discovery and on January 12, 2021, the plaintiffs filed an emergency second motion for expedited discovery and request for status conference. The court granted the motion in part and scheduled a status conference to discuss the plaintiffs' discovery request. At the January 14 conference, the court denied the plaintiff's first motion for expedited discovery as moot and granted in part the emergency second motion. The parties agreed to the scope of expedited discovery and set a discovery deadline of January 20, 2021.

On January 17, the plaintiffs moved to withdraw the request for temporary restraining order, which was granted on January 19. The plaintiffs then filed a joint motion to continue hearing on the motion for preliminary injunction, which was granted on January 21 and set a deadline of March 21 for the parties to file a joint status report.

The case remains ongoing with a settlement conference was scheduled for March 11, and with the defendants' responsive pleading to the complaint due on March 22, 2021.

Zofia Peach - 02/23/2021


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Assistance of counsel (6th Amendment)
Due Process
Due Process: Procedural Due Process
Due Process: Substantive Due Process
Equal Protection
Excessive bail/fines
COVID-19
Release Requested
Crowding
Crowding / caseload
Defendant-type
Jurisdiction-wide
Law-enforcement
Discrimination-basis
Race discrimination
General
Access to lawyers or judicial system
Conditions of confinement
Disparate Impact
Disparate Treatment
Fines/Fees/Bail/Bond
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Race
Black
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Ex parte Young (federal or state officials)
Defendant(s) Commissioner
Coordinator of the Bail Bond Program
Judges
Sheriff of East Baton Rouge Parish
Warden of East Baton Rouge Parish Prison
Plaintiff Description Four individuals who were being held at East Baton Rouge Parish Prison
Indexed Lawyer Organizations Advancement Project
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 12/14/2020
Case Ongoing Yes
Court Docket(s)
M.D. La.
02/11/2021
3:20-cv-00843-SDD-SDJ
CJ-LA-0014-9000.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
M.D. La.
12/14/2020
Class Action Complaint [ECF# 1]
CJ-LA-0014-0002.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
M.D. La.
12/15/2020
Plaintiffs' Motion for Temporary Restraining Order and Preliminary Injunction against Defendants Gautreaux and Grimes [ECF# 12 (& 12-2 to 12-5)]
CJ-LA-0014-0001.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
show all people docs
Judges Dick, Shelly Deckert (M.D. La.) show/hide docs
CJ-LA-0014-9000
Johnson, Scott D. Court not on record [Magistrate] show/hide docs
CJ-LA-0014-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Claiborne, William Charles III (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
CJ-LA-0014-0001 | CJ-LA-0014-0002 | CJ-LA-0014-9000
Foley, Eric Andrew (Louisiana) show/hide docs
CJ-LA-0014-0001 | CJ-LA-0014-0002 | CJ-LA-0014-9000
Harvey, Thomas B (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
CJ-LA-0014-0001 | CJ-LA-0014-0002
Lommers-Johnson, Hannah (Louisiana) show/hide docs
CJ-LA-0014-0001 | CJ-LA-0014-0002 | CJ-LA-0014-9000
Longman, Jacob (Georgia) show/hide docs
CJ-LA-0014-0001 | CJ-LA-0014-0002 | CJ-LA-0014-9000
Nemeth, Miriam R. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
CJ-LA-0014-0001 | CJ-LA-0014-0002 | CJ-LA-0014-9000
Robichaux, Scott (Georgia) show/hide docs
CJ-LA-0014-0001 | CJ-LA-0014-0002 | CJ-LA-0014-9000
Utter, David J. (Louisiana) show/hide docs
CJ-LA-0014-0001 | CJ-LA-0014-0002 | CJ-LA-0014-9000
Yang, Tiffany S. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
CJ-LA-0014-0001 | CJ-LA-0014-0002 | CJ-LA-0014-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Erlingson, Mary G. (Louisiana) show/hide docs
CJ-LA-0014-9000
Evans, James Garrison (Louisiana) show/hide docs
CJ-LA-0014-9000
St. Pierre, Catherine S. (Louisiana) show/hide docs
CJ-LA-0014-9000
Wilson, Jacqueline B (Louisiana) show/hide docs
CJ-LA-0014-9000

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