Case: Powers v. Hamilton County Public Defender Commission

1:02-cv-00605 | U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio

Filed Date: Aug. 21, 2002

Closed Date: 2009

Clearinghouse coding complete

Case Summary

On August 21, 2002, Plaintiff filed a lawsuit under § 1983 against the Hamilton County Public Defender Commission in the United States Court for the Southern District of Ohio. The plaintiff, represented by private counsel, asked the court for damages, claiming that he had been unconstitutionally incarcerated. Specifically, the plaintiff claimed that he had been unconstitutionally subjected to jail time because his public defender failed to request an indigency hearing. Plaintiff's claims ste…

On August 21, 2002, Plaintiff filed a lawsuit under § 1983 against the Hamilton County Public Defender Commission in the United States Court for the Southern District of Ohio. The plaintiff, represented by private counsel, asked the court for damages, claiming that he had been unconstitutionally incarcerated. Specifically, the plaintiff claimed that he had been unconstitutionally subjected to jail time because his public defender failed to request an indigency hearing.

Plaintiff's claims stem from his original arrest and conviction for drunk driving. As a result of that conviction, Plaintiff was put on probation, given a suspended jail sentence, and fined. Plaintiff was subsequently arrested and incarcerated for failure to pay the fine associated with his original sentence. Plaintiff claimed that this incarceration was unconstitutional because he was unable to pay the fine, and his attorney never requested an indigency hearing to allow Plaintiff to show he was unable to pay the fine. In short, Plaintiff claimed that he and others were unconstitutionally incarcerated because Defendant made it a practice to not request indigency hearings.

On August 30, 2005, the Court (Judge S. Arthur Spiegel) certified a class action. Powers v. Hamilton County Public Defender Commission, 2005 WL 2033696 (S.D.O.H. Aug. 30, 2005). The class consisted of all those persons who were incarcerated without an indigency hearing.

On February 7, 2006, the Court granted, in part, Plaintiffs' motion for summary judgment on liability, to the extend it found relief appropriate for those who fell within the modified class definition. The Court stayed consideration of Plaintiffs' motion for summary judgment on damages.

The Court issued final judgment in the case on March 24, 2006. In the order, the Court modified the class definition to include "all persons who, without an indigency hearing, were committed to the custody of a Hamilton County correctional facility by a Hamilton County municipal or common please court from August 21, 2000, to the present in satisfaction of a fine and/or court costs, including persons who violated probation following a "stay to pay" sentence. Further, the order required Defendant to provide class notice at its expense and allowed Class Counsel to file for attorneys' fees and costs. Defendants indicated they intended to appeal the judgment.

On August 29, 2008, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals (Judge R. Guy Cole, Jr.) affirmed the District Court's ruling that Plaintiff's § 1983 claims are cognizable, and affirmed the grant of class certification. However, the Sixth Circuit reversed the District Court's grant of summary judgment to Plaintiff and remanded for further proceedings. Powers v. Hamilton Cty. Pub. Defenders Comm'n, 501 F.3d 592 (6th Cir. 2008).

On April 29, 2009, the District Court (Judge S. Arthur Spiegel) issued an order certifying a class for the purposes of settlement, preliminarily approving settlement, and approving notice to the class members.

The Court issued a final order approving class action, approving settlement, and approving distribution of payment to class members, and dismissing all claims with prejudice, on June 17, 2009.

The case was closed in 2009 and there has been no further action.

Summary Authors

Haley Waller (11/17/2010)

People

For PACER's information on parties and their attorneys, see: https://www.courtlistener.com/docket/4689652/parties/powers-v-hamilton-co-publ-def/


Judge(s)

Cole, Ransey Guy Jr. (Ohio)

Spiegel, S. Arthur (Ohio)

Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Felson, Stephen R. (Ohio)

Meeks, Lisa T. (Ohio)

Newman, Robert B. (Ohio)

Attorneys(s) for Defendant

Deters, Joseph T. (Ohio)

Sears, Pamela J. (Ohio)

Stevenson, David T. (Ohio)

Judge(s)

Cole, Ransey Guy Jr. (Ohio)

Spiegel, S. Arthur (Ohio)

Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Felson, Stephen R. (Ohio)

Meeks, Lisa T. (Ohio)

Newman, Robert B. (Ohio)

Attorneys(s) for Defendant

Deters, Joseph T. (Ohio)

Sears, Pamela J. (Ohio)

Stevenson, David T. (Ohio)

Documents in the Clearinghouse

Document

Docket

July 20, 2009 Docket
34

ORDER (certifying class)

2005 WL 2033696

Aug. 23, 2005 Order/Opinion
36

INDIVIDUAL AND CLASS MOTION FOR PARTIAL SUMMARY JUDGMENT

Aug. 30, 2005 Pleading / Motion / Brief
42-1

CONSOLIDATED RESPONSE TO PLAINTIFF’S MOTIONS FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

Oct. 7, 2005 Pleading / Motion / Brief
44

PLAINTIFF’S REPLY MEMORANDUM IN SUPPORT OF MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

Oct. 17, 2005 Pleading / Motion / Brief
53

OPINION AND ORDER

Feb. 7, 2006 Order/Opinion
56

MEMORANDUM ON ISSUES RELATED TO DAMAGES SUBMITTED BY REMAINING COUNTY DEFENDANTS

March 14, 2006 Pleading / Motion / Brief
59

FINAL JUDGMENT

Power v. Hamilton County Public Defender Commission

March 24, 2006 Order/Opinion

OPINION

U. S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit

501 F.3d 592

Aug. 29, 2007 Order/Opinion
91

ORDER CERTIFYING A CLASS ACTION. PRELIMINARILY APPROVING SETTLEMENT AND APPROVING FORMS AND DISTRIBUTION OF NOTICE TO THE CLASS MEMBERS

April 30, 2009 Order/Opinion

Docket

See docket on RECAP: https://www.courtlistener.com/docket/4689652/powers-v-hamilton-co-publ-def/

Last updated May 11, 2022, 8 p.m.

ECF Number Description Date Link
34

ORDER granting 12 Motion to Certify Class, granting in part and denying in part 23 Motion for Summary Judgment to the extent that it DISMISSES Defendants Hamilton County Board of Commissioners, Hamilton County, and Hamilton County Sheriff Leis from this action, and DISMISSES Plaintiff's malpractice claim. Signed by Judge S Arthur Spiegel on 8/23/2005. (km, )

Aug. 23, 2005 RECAP
47

ORDER granting 37 Motion to Stay Pending Resolution of Petition to Appeal Class Certification. This matter is STAYED pending the outcome of Defendants' Rule 23(f) petition. The Court VACATES the 8/24/2005 scheduling Order 35 which scheduled the trial date in this matter for 12/6/2005. Signed by Judge S Arthur Spiegel on 10/20/2005. (km, )

Oct. 21, 2005 RECAP

State / Territory: Ohio

Case Type(s):

Jail Conditions

Key Dates

Filing Date: Aug. 21, 2002

Closing Date: 2009

Case Ongoing: No

Plaintiffs

Plaintiff Description:

Individuals who had faced incarceration as a result of a failure to pay a fine, and whose public defender failed to request an indigency hearing.

Plaintiff Type(s):

Private Plaintiff

Public Interest Lawyer: No

Filed Pro Se: No

Class Action Sought: Yes

Class Action Outcome: Granted

Defendants

Hamilton County Public Defender Commission (Hamilton), County

Office of the Public Defender of Hamilton County (Hamilton), County

Sheriff Simon L Leis, Jr (Hamilton), County

Hamilton County, OH (Hamilton), County

Phillip Heimlich (Hamilton), County

Todd Portune, Commissioner (Hamilton), County

John Dowlin (Hamilton), County

Case Details

Causes of Action:

42 U.S.C. § 1983

Constitutional Clause(s):

Due Process

Availably Documents:

Trial Court Docket

Any published opinion

Outcome

Prevailing Party: Mixed

Nature of Relief:

Unknown

Source of Relief:

Settlement

Form of Settlement:

Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree