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Case Name Nashville Community Bail Fund v. Gentry CJ-TN-0015
Docket / Court 3:20-cv-00103 ( M.D. Tenn. )
State/Territory Tennessee
Case Type(s) Criminal Justice (Other)
Special Collection Fines/Fees/Bail Reform (Criminalization of poverty)
Attorney Organization ACLU National (all projects)
Civil Rights Corps
Case Summary
This federal civil rights case successfully challenged a Davidson county Tennessee rule requiring garnishment of bail bonds, as applied to a non-profit bail bond service.

Davidson County, TN, has a local rule that allows the County Criminal Court to garnish bond deposits made by ... read more >
This federal civil rights case successfully challenged a Davidson county Tennessee rule requiring garnishment of bail bonds, as applied to a non-profit bail bond service.

Davidson County, TN, has a local rule that allows the County Criminal Court to garnish bond deposits made by criminal defendants to pay prior judgment fees--including fines, court costs, and restitution. If incarcerated people do not agree to potential garnishment, they are not allowed to post bond. In practice, the Nashville Community Bail Fund (NCBF), a non-profit that provides bail bonds to indigent arrestees, was exempted from this rule for years. But in September 2019, the County Criminal Court judges revoked the exemption.

On February 5, 2020, the NCBF filed this lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee (in Nashville). The plaintiff sued the Davidson County Criminal Court Clerk under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Represented by the ACLU, Civil Rights Corps, and a Nashville-based non-profit law firm Choosing Justice Initiative, the plaintiff sought injunctive and declaratory relief. NCBF claimed that the revocation of its longstanding exemption violated the Eighth Amendment prohibition on excessive bail as well as the Fourteenth Amendment doctrine of unconstitutional conditions, and the Fourteenth Amendment’s right to due process.

On March 17, 2020 District Judge Aleta Trauger granted NCBF’s motion for a preliminary injunction. This injunction prohibited the County Criminal Court Clerk from requiring NCBF to agree to the garnishment rule for bonds that it sought to post. 446 F. Supp. 3d 282. Judge Trauger denied the plaintiff’s request to enjoin the enforcement of the garnishment rule altogether in the Davidson County court system.

The Court also denied two government motions to dismiss the case, first in the Preliminary Injunction opinion on March 17, 2020, and again in an opinion on October 26, 2020, 496 F. Supp. 3d 1112. With the strength of these preliminary victories, on November 11, 2020, the plaintiff sought final summary judgment. Instead, the parties entered into a consent decree which was approved by Judge Trauger on December 19. The settlement made the preliminary injunction permanent. Although the defendant reserved the right to appeal the prior denial of his motion to dismiss in the consent decree, in fact he never filed such an appeal.

The settlement permanently preserved the district court's jurisdiction to enforce its terms.

The matter is ongoing as the parties are litigating over who should pay attorneys fees and how much.

Esteban Woo Kee - 06/02/2021


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
Due Process: Substantive Due Process
Excessive bail/fines
Content of Injunction
Preliminary relief granted
Defendant-type
Jurisdiction-wide
General
Fines/Fees/Bail/Bond
Over/Unlawful Detention
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Ex parte Young (federal or state officials)
Defendant(s) Davidson County
Plaintiff Description Nashville Community Bail Fund (NCBF) is a non-profit organization that provides bail bonds to indigent people arrested in Davidson County TN.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations ACLU National (all projects)
Civil Rights Corps
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted Not sought
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Preliminary injunction / Temp. restraining order
Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Litigation
Settlement
Form of Settlement Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree
Order Duration 2020 - n/a
Filed 02/05/2020
Case Ongoing Yes
Additional Resources
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  Nashville Community Bail Fund v. Gentry
ACLU
Date: Dec. 10, 2020
By: ACLU
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

Court Docket(s)
M.D. Tenn.
03/17/2021
3:20-cv-0010
CJ-TN-0015-9000.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
M.D. Tenn.
02/05/2020
Complaint for Injunctive and Declaratory Relief [ECF# 1]
CJ-TN-0015-0003.pdf | External Link | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
M.D. Tenn.
03/17/2020
Memorandum [ECF# 22] (446 F.Supp.3d 282)
CJ-TN-0015-0001.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
M.D. Tenn.
03/17/2020
Order [ECF# 23]
CJ-TN-0015-0004.pdf | External Link | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
M.D. Tenn.
10/26/2020
Memorandum [ECF# 65] (496 F.Supp.3d 1112)
CJ-TN-0015-0002.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
M.D. Tenn.
12/09/2020
Consent Judgment and Decree [ECF# 77]
CJ-TN-0015-0005.pdf | External Link | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
show all people docs
Judges Trauger, Aleta Arthur (M.D. Tenn.) show/hide docs
CJ-TN-0015-0001 | CJ-TN-0015-0002 | CJ-TN-0015-0004 | CJ-TN-0015-0005 | CJ-TN-0015-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Bergman, Angela Lee (Tennessee) show/hide docs
CJ-TN-0015-0005 | CJ-TN-0015-9000
Buskey, Brandon (New York) show/hide docs
CJ-TN-0015-0003 | CJ-TN-0015-0005 | CJ-TN-0015-9000
Castelli, Thomas H. (Tennessee) show/hide docs
CJ-TN-0015-0003 | CJ-TN-0015-0005 | CJ-TN-0015-9000
Deaner, C. Dawn (Tennessee) show/hide docs
CJ-TN-0015-0003 | CJ-TN-0015-0005 | CJ-TN-0015-9000
Gerstein, Charles L. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
CJ-TN-0015-0003 | CJ-TN-0015-0005 | CJ-TN-0015-9000
Sprick Schuster, Briana T (Tennessee) show/hide docs
CJ-TN-0015-0005 | CJ-TN-0015-9000
Woods, Andrea (New York) show/hide docs
CJ-TN-0015-0003 | CJ-TN-0015-0005 | CJ-TN-0015-9000
Yarbrough, Stella Marie (Tennessee) show/hide docs
CJ-TN-0015-0005 | CJ-TN-0015-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Ayers, John W (Tennessee) show/hide docs
CJ-TN-0015-9000
Bussell, Allison L. (Tennessee) show/hide docs
CJ-TN-0015-9000
Klein, Kevin C. (Tennessee) show/hide docs
CJ-TN-0015-0005 | CJ-TN-0015-9000
Loofbourrow, Ryan P (Tennessee) show/hide docs
CJ-TN-0015-0005 | CJ-TN-0015-9000

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