Case: Thompson v. DeKalb County

1:15-cv-00280 | U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia

Filed Date: Jan. 29, 2015

Closed Date: 2015

Clearinghouse coding complete

Case Summary

On January 29, 2015, a nineteen-year-old man from Decatur, Georgia, filed this lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia, under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, against DeKalb County and Judicial Correction Services, Inc. ("JCS"). The plaintiff, represented by attorneys from the ACLU, NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, and private practice, asked the court for damages, claiming that the defendants violated his Fourteenth Amendment rights when they incarcerated him for five…

On January 29, 2015, a nineteen-year-old man from Decatur, Georgia, filed this lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia, under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, against DeKalb County and Judicial Correction Services, Inc. ("JCS"). The plaintiff, represented by attorneys from the ACLU, NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, and private practice, asked the court for damages, claiming that the defendants violated his Fourteenth Amendment rights when they incarcerated him for five days in the county jail because he was unable to pay $838 in fines and fees stemming from a traffic ticket within thirty days of sentencing. Specifically, the plaintiff claimed that the defendants violated his rights under the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses by revoking his probation and incarcerating him for failing to pay court-imposed fines without conducting a hearing to determine his ability to pay, the adequacy of his efforts to obtain the resources needed to pay, and any alternatives to incarceration. The plaintiff also alleged that the defendants failed during the probation revocation proceedings to inform him of his right to request court-appointed legal assistance and that they failed to provide such assistance when it became apparent that the plaintiff was indigent.

The plaintiff's traffic violation constituted the underlying offense in this case. On October 9, 2014, the plaintiff pled guilty to driving with a suspended license before the DeKalb County Recorder's Court. He was sentenced to an $810 fine. After the plaintiff said that he was unable to pay on that day, the judge ordered him to pay the fine and other court fees within thirty days and to serve twelve months of probation with JCS. The company eventually charged the plaintiff with violating his probation for failure to pay, and the plaintiff's probation was revoked and he was incarcerated after a brief hearing before the Recorder's Court. The plaintiff claimed that his jailing was a direct result of the county's "pay-only probation" policy. Under this policy, the plaintiff argued, the county imposed probation solely to earn revenue from indigent people who often cannot afford to pay the sentencing fines and fees stemming from their traffic offenses or county ordinance violations.

The parties announced that they reached a private settlement agreement on March 18, 2015. Under the settlement, the defendants would pay a lump sum of $70,000 for damages and attorneys' fees. The chief judge of the DeKalb County Recorder's Court also agreed to take measures to ensure that the court's judges and personnel respect the rights of people who cannot afford the probation fines and fees. For example, the court adopted "bench cards" listing general policies to assist judges in avoiding incarcerating indigent people unable to pay the fines. The cards specify the legal alternatives to jail and provide that judges must conduct an "economic ability-to-pay hearing" before sending a probationer to jail for failing to pay fines and fees. The cards also inform judges about the specific procedures for protecting people's right to counsel during probation revocation proceedings. In addition to providing bench cards for each judge, the Recorder's Court also agreed to conduct training sessions for court personnel to explain probationers' right to counsel and their right to an indigency hearing. Finally, the court revised its petition revocation forms in order to better inform probationers of their right to court-appointed counsel in revocation proceedings and their right to request a waiver of the $50 fee for such counsel if they cannot afford it.

On April 3, 2015, the parties filed a stipulation of dismissal, presumably due to the settlement. The case is now closed.

Summary Authors

Brian Tengel (3/29/2015)

Virginia Weeks (2/14/2018)

People

For PACER's information on parties and their attrorneys, see: https://www.courtlistener.com/docket/6284511/parties/thompson-v-dekalb-county-georgia/


Judge(s)

Thrash, Thomas W. Jr. (Georgia)

Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Choudhury, Nusrat Jahan (New York)

Geraghty, Sarah E. (Georgia)

Huizar, Laura (New York)

Parker, Dennis D. (New York)

Remar, Robert B. (Georgia)

Virostko, Jennifer Rebecca (Georgia)

Attorneys(s) for Defendant

Pendergrast, Craig K. (Georgia)

Smith, Kendric E. (Georgia)

Expert/Monitor/Master

Thompson, Kevin A. (Missouri)

Judge(s)

Thrash, Thomas W. Jr. (Georgia)

Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Choudhury, Nusrat Jahan (New York)

Geraghty, Sarah E. (Georgia)

Huizar, Laura (New York)

Parker, Dennis D. (New York)

Remar, Robert B. (Georgia)

Virostko, Jennifer Rebecca (Georgia)

Attorneys(s) for Defendant

Pendergrast, Craig K. (Georgia)

Smith, Kendric E. (Georgia)

Expert/Monitor/Master

Thompson, Kevin A. (Missouri)

Documents in the Clearinghouse

Document

1:15-cv-00280

Docket [PACER]

April 6, 2015

April 6, 2015

Docket
1

1:15-cv-00280

Complaint

Jan. 29, 2015

Jan. 29, 2015

Complaint

1:15-cv-00280

Settlement Agreement and Release of Claims

[Thompson v. DeKalb County, Georgia]

No Court

March 18, 2015

March 18, 2015

Settlement Agreement

Resources

Docket

See docket on RECAP: https://www.courtlistener.com/docket/6284511/thompson-v-dekalb-county-georgia/

Last updated Aug. 6, 2022, 3:04 a.m.

ECF Number Description Date Link Date / Link
1

COMPLAINT with Jury Demand filed by Kevin Thompson; and Summon(s) issued. ( Filing fee $ 400.00 receipt number 113E-5629110.) (Attachments: # 1 Civil Cover Sheet)(eop) Please visit our website at http://www.gand.uscourts.gov/forms to obtain Pretrial Instructions which includes the Consent To Proceed Before U.S. Magistrate form. (Entered: 01/30/2015)

1 Civil Cover Sheet

View on PACER

Jan. 29, 2015

Jan. 29, 2015

PACER
2

Electronic Summons Issued as to DeKalb County, Georgia, Judicial Correction Services, Incorporated and Nelly Withers. (Attachments: # 1 N. Withers, # 2 Judicial Correction Services)(eop) (Entered: 01/30/2015)

1 N. Withers

View on PACER

2 Judicial Correction Services

View on PACER

Jan. 29, 2015

Jan. 29, 2015

PACER
3

Certificate of Interested Persons by Kevin Thompson. (eop) (Entered: 01/30/2015)

Jan. 29, 2015

Jan. 29, 2015

PACER

Clerks Notation re 3 Certificate of Interested Persons, OK, per TWT. (ss)

Feb. 2, 2015

Feb. 2, 2015

PACER

Clerks Notation for LOA/CIP

Feb. 2, 2015

Feb. 2, 2015

PACER
4

APPLICATION for Admission of Dennis Parker Pro Hac Vice (Application fee $ 150, receipt number 113E-5639505)by Kevin Thompson. (Remar, Robert) (Entered: 02/03/2015)

Feb. 3, 2015

Feb. 3, 2015

PACER
5

APPLICATION for Admission of Nusrat J. Choudhury Pro Hac Vice (Application fee $ 150, receipt number 113E-5639571)by Kevin Thompson. (Remar, Robert) (Entered: 02/03/2015)

Feb. 3, 2015

Feb. 3, 2015

PACER
6

APPLICATION for Admission of Laura Huizar Pro Hac Vice (Application fee $ 150, receipt number 113E-5639591)by Kevin Thompson. (Remar, Robert) (Entered: 02/03/2015)

Feb. 3, 2015

Feb. 3, 2015

PACER

APPROVAL by Clerks Office re: 4 APPLICATION for Admission of Dennis Parker Pro Hac Vice (Application fee $ 150, receipt number 113E-5639505). Attorney Dennis Parker added appearing on behalf of Kevin Thompson (pb)

Feb. 9, 2015

Feb. 9, 2015

PACER

APPROVAL by Clerks Office re: 5 APPLICATION for Admission of Nusrat J. Choudhury Pro Hac Vice (Application fee $ 150, receipt number 113E-5639571). Attorney Nusrat Jahan Choudhury added appearing on behalf of Kevin Thompson (pb)

Feb. 9, 2015

Feb. 9, 2015

PACER

APPROVAL by Clerks Office re: 6 APPLICATION for Admission of Laura Huizar Pro Hac Vice (Application fee $ 150, receipt number 113E-5639591). Attorney Laura Huizar added appearing on behalf of Kevin Thompson (pb)

Feb. 9, 2015

Feb. 9, 2015

PACER

Approval of Application for Admission Pro Hac Vice

Feb. 9, 2015

Feb. 9, 2015

PACER
7

Return of Service Executed by Kevin Thompson. Nelly Withers served on 2/4/2015, answer due 2/25/2015. (Remar, Robert) (Entered: 02/09/2015)

Feb. 9, 2015

Feb. 9, 2015

PACER
8

Return of Service Executed by Kevin Thompson. DeKalb County, Georgia served on 2/2/2015, answer due 2/23/2015. (Remar, Robert) (Entered: 02/09/2015)

Feb. 9, 2015

Feb. 9, 2015

PACER
9

Return of Service Executed by Kevin Thompson. Judicial Correction Services, Incorporated served on 2/2/2015, answer due 2/23/2015. (Remar, Robert) (Entered: 02/09/2015)

Feb. 9, 2015

Feb. 9, 2015

PACER
10

ORDER granting 5 Application for Admission Pro Hac Vice for Nusrat Choudhury. Signed by Judge Thomas W. Thrash, Jr on 2/10/15. (dr) (Entered: 02/12/2015)

Feb. 12, 2015

Feb. 12, 2015

PACER
11

ORDER granting 6 Application for Admission Pro Hac Vice for Laura Huizar. Signed by Judge Thomas W. Thrash, Jr on 2/10/15. (dr) (Entered: 02/12/2015)

Feb. 12, 2015

Feb. 12, 2015

PACER
12

ORDER granting 4 Application for Admission Pro Hac Vice for Dennis Parker. Signed by Judge Thomas W. Thrash, Jr on 2/10/15. (dr) (Entered: 02/12/2015)

Feb. 12, 2015

Feb. 12, 2015

PACER
13

NOTICE of Appearance by Kendric E. Smith on behalf of DeKalb County, Georgia, Nelly Withers (Smith, Kendric) (Entered: 02/13/2015)

Feb. 13, 2015

Feb. 13, 2015

PACER
14

MOTION for Extension of Time to File Answer or Other Responsive Pleadings by DeKalb County, Georgia, Nelly Withers. (Smith, Kendric) (Entered: 02/13/2015)

Feb. 13, 2015

Feb. 13, 2015

PACER
15

ORDER granting 14 Motion for Extension of Time to Answer, DeKalb County, Georgia Answer due 3/25/2015; Nelly Withers Answer due 3/25/2015. Signed by Judge Thomas W. Thrash, Jr on 2/17/2015. (ss) (Entered: 02/18/2015)

Feb. 18, 2015

Feb. 18, 2015

PACER
16

INCORRECT PDF ATTACHED MOTION for Extension of Time to File Answer re 1 Complaint, by Judicial Correction Services, Incorporated. (Attachments: # 1 Exhibit EXHIBIT A)(Pendergrast, Craig) Modified on 2/23/2015. Atty to refile. (jtj) (Entered: 02/23/2015)

Feb. 23, 2015

Feb. 23, 2015

PACER
17

MOTION for Extension of Time File Responsive Pleadings re: 1 Complaint, by Judicial Correction Services, Incorporated. (Attachments: # 1 Text of Proposed Order proposed Order)(Pendergrast, Craig) (Entered: 02/23/2015)

1 Text of Proposed Order proposed Order

View on PACER

Feb. 23, 2015

Feb. 23, 2015

PACER
18

ORDER TO EXTEND TIME TO ANSWER 1 Complaint, for Judicial Correction Services, Incorporated, through 3/9/2015. Signed by Judge Thomas W. Thrash, Jr on 2/24/2015. (ss) (Entered: 02/24/2015)

Feb. 24, 2015

Feb. 24, 2015

PACER
19

MOTION for Extension of Time to File Responsive Pleadings re: 1 Complaint, by Judicial Correction Services, Incorporated. (Attachments: # 1 Text of Proposed Order EXHIBIT A)(Pendergrast, Craig) (Entered: 03/09/2015)

1 Text of Proposed Order EXHIBIT A

View on PACER

March 9, 2015

March 9, 2015

PACER
20

ORDER TO EXTEND TIME TO ANSWER through 3/25/2015 as to defendant Judicial Correction Services, Inc. Signed by Judge Thomas W. Thrash, Jr on 3/9/2015. (ss) (Entered: 03/09/2015)

March 9, 2015

March 9, 2015

PACER
21

MOTION for Extension of Time to File Answer Or Other Responsive Pleadings by DeKalb County, Georgia, Nelly Withers. (Attachments: # 1 Text of Proposed Order)(Smith, Kendric) (Entered: 03/23/2015)

1 Text of Proposed Order

View on PACER

March 23, 2015

March 23, 2015

PACER
22

ORDER granting 21 Motion for Extension of Time to Answer, DeKalb County, Georgia Answer due 4/8/2015; Nelly Withers Answer due 4/8/2015. Signed by Judge Thomas W. Thrash, Jr on 3/24/2015. (ss) (Entered: 03/24/2015)

March 24, 2015

March 24, 2015

PACER
23

STIPULATION of Dismissal with Prejudice by Rogers & Hardin LLP. (Remar, Robert) (Entered: 04/03/2015)

April 3, 2015

April 3, 2015

RECAP

Clerk's Entry of Dismissal APPROVING 23 Stipulation of Dismissal pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P.41(a)(1)(ii) (dr)

April 6, 2015

April 6, 2015

PACER

Clerks Entry of Dismissal

April 6, 2015

April 6, 2015

PACER

Civil Case Terminated. (dr)

April 6, 2015

April 6, 2015

PACER

Terminated Case

April 6, 2015

April 6, 2015

PACER

Case Details

State / Territory: Georgia

Case Type(s):

Criminal Justice (Other)

Special Collection(s):

Fines/Fees/Bail Reform (Criminalization of Poverty)

Multi-LexSum (in sample)

Key Dates

Filing Date: Jan. 29, 2015

Closing Date: 2015

Case Ongoing: No

Plaintiffs

Plaintiff Description:

An indigent nineteen-year-old resident of Decatur, Georgia who was jailed because he failed to pay a court fine.

Plaintiff Type(s):

Private Plaintiff

Attorney Organizations:

ACLU National (all projects)

Southern Center for Human Rights (SCHR)

NAACP Legal Defense Fund

Public Interest Lawyer: Yes

Filed Pro Se: No

Class Action Sought: No

Class Action Outcome: Not sought

Defendants

DeKalb County (De Kalb), County

Judicial Correction Services, Inc. (Fulton), Private Entity/Person

Defendant Type(s):

Jurisdiction-wide

Case Details

Causes of Action:

42 U.S.C. § 1983

Constitutional Clause(s):

Equal Protection

Due Process

Availably Documents:

Trial Court Docket

Complaint (any)

Injunctive (or Injunctive-like) Relief

Any published opinion

Outcome

Prevailing Party: Plaintiff

Nature of Relief:

Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement

Attorneys fees

Damages

Source of Relief:

Settlement

Form of Settlement:

Private Settlement Agreement

Amount Defendant Pays: 70000

Issues

General:

Access to lawyers or judicial system

Courts

Failure to train

False arrest

Over/Unlawful Detention

Placement in detention facilities