Case: Burdette v. Town of Harpersville, Alabama

10-cv-900183 | Alabama state trial court

Filed Date: 2010

Case Ongoing

Clearinghouse coding complete

Case Summary

In 2010, four people formerly jailed by the town of Harpersville brought suit against the town and the private probation company Judicial Correctional Services, Inc. (JCS), in Alabama state court, challenging the city's failure to provide adequate counsel to poor defendants, failure to hold hearings before imposing fines, setting of unreasonable bond amounts, and automatically incarcerating indigent defendants for failure to pay fines and costs, including "monitoring fees" charged by a private …

In 2010, four people formerly jailed by the town of Harpersville brought suit against the town and the private probation company Judicial Correctional Services, Inc. (JCS), in Alabama state court, challenging the city's failure to provide adequate counsel to poor defendants, failure to hold hearings before imposing fines, setting of unreasonable bond amounts, and automatically incarcerating indigent defendants for failure to pay fines and costs, including "monitoring fees" charged by a private probation company contracted by the city to collect fines.

On July 11, 2012, the circuit court of Shelby County, Alabama (Judge Hub Harrington) granted the plaintiffs' motion for a temporary restraining order, prohibiting the city from incarcerating anyone who: is subject to post-conviction proceedings, has received a suspended sentence; or has been placed on probation, without first getting the court's (Judge Harrington's) permission. The judge called the municipal court system "a debtors prison" and "a judicially sanctioned extortion racket."

On August 8, 2012, the Harpersville Town Council voted to abolish the municipal court, with all cases to be transferred to the county district court over the next several months. The day after that, the Sheriff of Shelby County executed a search warrant on the Municipal Court and City Police Department. These events led Judge Harrington to order the immediate abolition of the Municipal Court.

After succeeding on their TRO, the plaintiffs filed an amended complaint which included several class action allegations, including claims for damages. However, the status of those claims is not clear from public records. In August of 2015, they remained pending.

Several individuals who had been "supervised" by JCS and the Town later filed a civil rights lawsuit in federal court. That case, Carden v. Town of Harpersville is in the Clearinghouse as CJ-AL-0025.

Summary Authors

Denise Heberle (7/31/2012)

Priyah Kaul (11/9/2014)

Jonah Hudson-Erdman (9/7/2021)

Related Cases

Carden v. Town of Harpersville, Northern District of Alabama (2015)

People


Judge(s)

Harrington, Hub (Alabama)

Judge(s)

Harrington, Hub (Alabama)

Documents in the Clearinghouse

Document

10-cv-900183

Order (TRO)

July 11, 2012

July 11, 2012

Order/Opinion

Press Release

No Court

July 13, 2012

July 13, 2012

Press Release

Docket

Last updated Aug. 19, 2022, 3:01 a.m.

Docket sheet not available via the Clearinghouse.

Case Details

State / Territory: Alabama

Case Type(s):

Criminal Justice (Other)

Key Dates

Filing Date: 2010

Case Ongoing: Yes

Plaintiffs

Plaintiff Description:

Four individuals previously incarcerated by the City of Harpersville, Alabama.

Plaintiff Type(s):

Private Plaintiff

Public Interest Lawyer: No

Filed Pro Se: No

Class Action Sought: Yes

Class Action Outcome: Granted

Defendants

Harpersville, AL (Harpersville), City

Defendant Type(s):

Corrections

Case Details

Causes of Action:

State law

Availably Documents:

Injunctive (or Injunctive-like) Relief

Outcome

Prevailing Party: Plaintiff

Nature of Relief:

Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement

Source of Relief:

Litigation

Issues

General:

Access to lawyers or judicial system

Over/Unlawful Detention

Poverty/homelessness