Case: Bell v. City of Jackson

3:15-cv-00732 | U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi

Filed Date: Oct. 9, 2015

Closed Date: 2016

Clearinghouse coding complete

Case Summary

On October 9, 2015, seven impoverished individuals incarcerated by the City of Jackson filed this class action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, federal anti-trafficking laws, and the declaratory judgment act in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District Court of Mississippi. The plaintiffs alleged that they were imprisoned because they were unable to pay debts owed to the City for traffic violations and other misdemeanor offenses. As a result, the plaintiffs argued that the City violated their Si…

On October 9, 2015, seven impoverished individuals incarcerated by the City of Jackson filed this class action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, federal anti-trafficking laws, and the declaratory judgment act in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District Court of Mississippi. The plaintiffs alleged that they were imprisoned because they were unable to pay debts owed to the City for traffic violations and other misdemeanor offenses. As a result, the plaintiffs argued that the City violated their Sixth, Thirteenth, and Fourteenth Amendment rights. The plaintiffs, represented by counsel from the MacArthur Justice Center and from Equal Justice Under Law, asked the court for declaratory and injunctive relief and monetary damages.

The plaintiffs alleged that they were indigent citizens who had outstanding debts payable to the City that stemmed from minor offenses. Many of them were disabled. The City allegedly presented the plaintiffs with the option to “pay or stay,” meaning they could either pay off the money owed to the City or be incarcerated to pay off their debts. The plaintiffs were allegedly forced to sit out their debts in the Hinds County Jail at a rate of $25.00 per day since they were unable to pay. There was an option for the plaintiffs to “work off” their debts at the Hinds County Penal Farm at a rate of $58.00 per day; however, some of the plaintiffs were unable to do so due to their disabilities. City officials did not review the plaintiffs’ ability to pay or other alternatives to imprisonment, such as community service, prior to their incarceration.

Less than a month later, the parties’ filed notice with the court that they were attempting to settle the case and requested additional time for negotiations. After several request for more time, the parties notified the court on June 9, 2016, that the case had settled.

On June 20, 2016, District Judge Tom Lee signed off on a joint settlement agreement. The City agreed to a declaratory judgment acknowledging that it was unconstitutional to incarcerate someone simply because she does not have the ability to pay. In all misdemeanor cases moving forward, the City agreed not to detain or incarcerate individuals because of their inability to pay fines. Instead, these individuals would be given the option of participating in a community service program in lieu of being incarcerated. Additionally, future defendants would not be incarcerated unless the City found it necessary to do so after a hearing and provision of counsel. The City agreed to make determinations about defendants’ ability to pay on a case-by-case basis; judges would to consider financial hardships when sentencing and determining community service requirements. Furthermore, the City agreed to develop training programs so its employees could comply with the settlement agreement and to make accommodations for people with disabilities to be able to participate in the community service program. The settlement did not include monetary relief.

The City agreed to implement the entire settlement within 120 days, and to meet with the plaintiffs' counsel every three months for the first two years after entry of the settlement to discuss ongoing compliance issues. The City also agreed to notify plaintiff's counsel within 24 hours of someone being detained for willful failure to pay. The Court retained jurisdiction to enforce the settlement, which had no specified end date.

The Professional Bail Agents Association of Mississippi filed a motion to intervene on June 28, 2016 after the settlement agreement was signed and approved. This non-profit disputed the settlement agreement’s provisions regarding monetary bail in municipal court. This motion was denied on August 25, 2016. The case is otherwise administratively closed.

Summary Authors

Amelia Huckins (2/5/2017)

People

For PACER's information on parties and their attorneys, see: https://www.courtlistener.com/docket/4516107/parties/bell-v-the-city-of-jackson-mississippi/


Judge(s)
Attorney for Plaintiff
Attorney for Defendant

Bradford, Tracy L. (Mississippi)

Creighton, Catherine (Mississippi)

Davis, Michael (Mississippi)

Davis, Leonard A. (Mississippi)

Durkin, Thomas Anthony (Mississippi)

Judge(s)

Lee, Tom Stewart (Mississippi)

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Documents in the Clearinghouse

Document

3:15-cv-00732

Docket Report

Aug. 25, 2016

Aug. 25, 2016

Docket
2

3:15-cv-00732

Summons in a Civil Action

Bell v. City of Jackson, Mississippi

Oct. 9, 2015

Oct. 9, 2015

Notice Letter
1

3:15-cv-00732

Class Action Complaint

Oct. 9, 2015

Oct. 9, 2015

Complaint
14

3:15-cv-00732

Settlement Agreement

Bell v. The City of Jackson

June 20, 2016

June 20, 2016

Settlement Agreement
21

3:15-cv-00732

Order Denying Motion to Intervene

Aug. 25, 2016

Aug. 25, 2016

Order/Opinion

Resources

Docket

See docket on RECAP: https://www.courtlistener.com/docket/4516107/bell-v-the-city-of-jackson-mississippi/

Last updated Dec. 17, 2023, 3:18 a.m.

ECF Number Description Date Link Date / Link
1

CLASS ACTION COMPLAINT against The City of Jackson, Mississippi ( Filing fee $ 400 receipt number 34643035775) filed by James Sheppard, Jerome Bell, Marteze Harris, Jarmale Walker, Ricky Lambert, Michael Davis, and Domonic Butler. (Attachments: # 1 Exhibit A - Bell, Mittimus 7/10/15, # 2 Exhibit B - Sheppard, Mittimus 9/4/15, # 3 Exhibit C - Harris, Mittimus 7/23/15, # 4 Exhibit D - Public Service Work Agreement, 9/15/15, # 5 Exhibit E - Butler, Mittimus 7/22/15, # 6 Exhibit F - Davis, Mittimus 4/13/15, # 7 Exhibit G - Lambert, Mittimus 8/14/15, # 8 Exhibit H - Public Service Work Agreement, 9/17/15, # 9 Exhibit I - Walker, Mittimus 7/13/15, # 10 Civil Cover Sheet)(ND) (Entered: 10/09/2015)

1 Exhibit A - Bell, Mittimus 7/10/15

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2 Exhibit B - Sheppard, Mittimus 9/4/15

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3 Exhibit C - Harris, Mittimus 7/23/15

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4 Exhibit D - Public Service Work Agreement, 9/15/15

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5 Exhibit E - Butler, Mittimus 7/22/15

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6 Exhibit F - Davis, Mittimus 4/13/15

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7 Exhibit G - Lambert, Mittimus 8/14/15

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8 Exhibit H - Public Service Work Agreement, 9/17/15

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9 Exhibit I - Walker, Mittimus 7/13/15

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10 Civil Cover Sheet

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Oct. 9, 2015

Oct. 9, 2015

RECAP
2

Summons Issued as to The City of Jackson, Mississippi. (ND) (Entered: 10/09/2015)

Oct. 9, 2015

Oct. 9, 2015

PACER
3

SUMMONS Returned Executed by James Sheppard, Jerome Bell, Marteze Harris, Jarmale Walker, Ricky Lambert, Michael Davis, Domonic Butler The City of Jackson, Mississippi served on 10/14/2015, answer due 11/4/2015. (Johnson, J.) (Entered: 10/14/2015)

Oct. 14, 2015

Oct. 14, 2015

PACER
4

MOTION for Alec Karakatsanis to Appear Pro Hac Vice by Jerome Bell, Domonic Butler, Michael Davis, Marteze Harris, Ricky Lambert, James Sheppard, Jarmale Walker (Attachments: # 1 Appendix Certificate of Good Standing)(Johnson, J.) (Entered: 10/16/2015)

1 Appendix Certificate of Good Standing

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Oct. 16, 2015

Oct. 16, 2015

PACER

Pro Hac Vice fee paid for Alec Karakatsanis receipt number 0538-3051190 $ 100 (Johnson, J.)

Oct. 16, 2015

Oct. 16, 2015

PACER
5

Amended MOTION for Alec Karakatsanis to Appear Pro Hac Vice by Jerome Bell, Domonic Butler, Michael Davis, Marteze Harris, Ricky Lambert, James Sheppard, Jarmale Walker (Attachments: # 1 Appendix Certificate of Good Standing)(Johnson, J.) (Entered: 10/19/2015)

1 Appendix Certificate of Good Standing

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Oct. 19, 2015

Oct. 19, 2015

PACER
6

ORDER granting 5 Amended Motion to Appear Pro Hac Vice. Alec Karakatsanis shall be admitted pro hac vice to serve as co-counsel for the defendants Jerome Bell, Domonic Butler, Michael Davis, Marteze Harris, Ricky Lambert, James Sheppard and Jarmale Walker. Signed by Magistrate Judge Robert H. Walker on October 19, 2015. (Joffe, Scherry) (Entered: 10/19/2015)

Oct. 19, 2015

Oct. 19, 2015

PACER

TEXT ONLY ORDER finding as moot 4 Motion to Appear Pro Hac Vice. Movants filed an Amended Motion 5 which the Court has granted by order 6 entered this date. NO FURTHER WRITTEN ORDER WILL ISSUE. Signed by Magistrate Judge Robert H. Walker on October 19, 2015. (Joffe, Scherry)

Oct. 19, 2015

Oct. 19, 2015

PACER
7

ANSWER to 1 Complaint,, by The City of Jackson, Mississippi.(Jackson-Winters, LaShundra) (Entered: 10/23/2015)

Oct. 23, 2015

Oct. 23, 2015

PACER

NOTICE of Hearing: Telephone Conference set for 11/5/2015 10:00 AM before Magistrate Judge Robert H. Walker to establish deadlines for class action discovery and to file a motion to certify a class. Plaintiff will place the telephone call to Judge Walker's chambers with all necessary counsel on the line. (SR)

Oct. 26, 2015

Oct. 26, 2015

PACER

Minute Entry for proceedings held before Magistrate Judge Robert H. Walker: Telephone Conference held on 11/5/2015 with attorneys J. Cliff Johnson and LaShundra B. Jackson-Winters who advised they are attempting to settle the case and are requesting additional time to continue settlement negotiations. The Court will not schedule deadlines at this time but will notice another telephonic status call for December 3, 2015 at 10:00 AM. (SR)

Nov. 5, 2015

Nov. 5, 2015

PACER

NOTICE of Hearing: Telephonic Status Conference set for 12/3/2015 10:00 AM before Magistrate Judge Robert H. Walker. Plaintiff will place the telephone call to Judge Walker's chambers with all necessary counsel on the line. (SR)

Nov. 5, 2015

Nov. 5, 2015

PACER

Minute Entry for proceedings held before Magistrate Judge Robert H. Walker: Telephonic Status Conference held on 12/3/2015 with attorneys J. Cliff Johnson and LaShundra B. Jackson-Winters who advised they have participated in numerous lengthy in-person negotiations and advised they are making substantial progress toward settlement of the case, but are requesting additional time to continue the negotiations. The Court will notice another telephonic status call for January 5, 2016 at 1:30 PM. (SR)

Dec. 3, 2015

Dec. 3, 2015

PACER

NOTICE of Hearing: Telephonic Status Conference set for 1/5/2016 01:30 PM before Magistrate Judge Robert H. Walker. Plaintiff will place the telephone call to Judge Walker's chambers with all necessary counsel on the line. (SR)

Dec. 3, 2015

Dec. 3, 2015

PACER

Minute Entry for proceedings held before Magistrate Judge Robert H. Walker: Telephonic Status Conference held on 1/5/2016 with attorneys J. Cliff Johnson and LaShundra B. Jackson-Winters who advised they continue to make substantial progress toward settlement of the case but are requesting additional time to continue negotiations. The Court advised it will allow one last opportunity to reach a settlement and will notice a telephonic status conference for February 16, 2016 at 10:00 AM. If the case has not settled by that date deadlines for class action discovery and to file a motion to certify a class will be scheduled. (SR)

Jan. 5, 2016

Jan. 5, 2016

PACER

NOTICE of Hearing: Telephonic Status Conference set for 2/16/2016 10:00 AM before Magistrate Judge Robert H. Walker. Plaintiff will place the telephone call to Judge Walker's chambers with all necessary counsel on the line. (SR)

Jan. 5, 2016

Jan. 5, 2016

PACER

Minute Entry for proceedings held before Magistrate Judge Robert H. Walker: Telephonic Status Conference held on 2/16/2016 with attorneys J. Cliff Johnson, Gail W. Lowery and LaShundra B. Jackson-Winters. Counsel continue to negotiate settlement of the case in good faith and advised they have resolved all but four to five issues. The Court is directing that counsel meet in person in an attempt to finalize settlement and will schedule a telephonic status conference for March 2, 2016 at 10:00 AM. (SR)

Feb. 16, 2016

Feb. 16, 2016

PACER

NOTICE of Hearing: Telephonic Status Conference set for 3/2/2016 10:00 AM before Magistrate Judge Robert H. Walker. Plaintiff will place the telephone call to Judge Walker's chambers with all necessary counsel on the line. (SR)

Feb. 16, 2016

Feb. 16, 2016

PACER

Reset Hearings: Telephonic Status Conference RESET for 3/2/2016 01:30 PM before Magistrate Judge Robert H. Walker. Plaintiff will place the telephone call to Judge Walker's chambers with all necessary counsel on the line. (SR)

Feb. 22, 2016

Feb. 22, 2016

PACER

Reset Hearings: Telephonic Status Conference RESET for 3/16/2016 01:30 PM before Magistrate Judge Robert H. Walker. Plaintiff will place the telephone call to Judge Walker's chambers with all necessary counsel on the line. (SR)

March 2, 2016

March 2, 2016

PACER

Minute Entry for proceedings held before Magistrate Judge Robert H. Walker: Telephonic Status Conference held on 3/16/2016 with attorneys J. Cliff Johnson, Gail W. Lowery and LaShundra B. Jackson-Winters who advised they continue in their efforts to resolve all issues but several remain contested. The Court directed the attorneys to continue in their attempts to settle the case but stated that the case will now proceed and that a telephonic case management conference will be noticed for April 28, 2016 at 1:30 PM. (SR)

March 16, 2016

March 16, 2016

PACER
8

Rule 16(a) Initial Order Telephonic Case Management Conference set for 4/28/2016 01:30 PM before Magistrate Judge Robert H. Walker. (SR) (Entered: 03/16/2016)

March 16, 2016

March 16, 2016

PACER
9

NOTICE of Appearance by Gail Wright Lowery on behalf of The City of Jackson, Mississippi (Lowery, Gail) (Entered: 04/07/2016)

April 7, 2016

April 7, 2016

PACER
10

NOTICE of Service of City of Jackson's Initial Disclosure by The City of Jackson, Mississippi (Jackson-Winters, LaShundra) (Entered: 04/21/2016)

April 21, 2016

April 21, 2016

PACER
11

NOTICE of Service of Initial Disclosure by Jerome Bell, Domonic Butler, Michael Davis, Marteze Harris, Ricky Lambert, James Sheppard, Jarmale Walker (Johnson, J.) (Entered: 04/22/2016)

April 22, 2016

April 22, 2016

PACER

DOCKET ANNOTATION as to # 11 . This document is not accompanied by a certificate of service. A certificate of service must be attached to a document [Administrative Procedures for Electronic Case Filing, Sec. 4.A.1, Sec. 4.B, and Fed.R.Civ.P. Rule 5(d)(1)]. Attorney is directed to file a certificate as CERTIFICATE OF SERVICE and link it to the proper document. (ND)

April 22, 2016

April 22, 2016

PACER
12

ATTACHMENT re 11 Notice of Service of Disclosure - Certificate of Service by Jerome Bell, Domonic Butler, Michael Davis, Marteze Harris, Ricky Lambert, James Sheppard, Jarmale Walker (Johnson, J.) (Entered: 04/25/2016)

April 25, 2016

April 25, 2016

PACER

Minute Entry for proceedings held before Magistrate Judge Robert H. Walker: Telephonic Case Management Conference held on 4/28/2016 with attorneys J. Cliff Johnson, LaShundra B. Jackson-Winters and Gail Wright Lowery who advised that the attorneys have agreed to terms of a potential settlement of the case which is to be presented to the Jackson city council for consideration and approval at their next meeting on May 3, 2016. The Court will not enter a scheduling order at this time but will notice another telephonic status conference for May 5, 2016 at 10:30 AM. (SR)

April 28, 2016

April 28, 2016

PACER

NOTICE of Hearing: Telephonic Status Conference set for 5/5/2016 10:30 AM before Magistrate Judge Robert H. Walker. Plaintiff will place the telephone call to Judge Walker's chambers with all necessary counsel on the line. (SR)

April 28, 2016

April 28, 2016

PACER

Minute Entry for proceedings held before Magistrate Judge Robert H. Walker: Telephonic Status Conference held on 5/5/2016 with attorneys Jacob W. Howard, LaShundra B. Jackson-Winters and Gail Wright Lowery. Counsel for the City of Jackson, Mississippi advised that the proposed settlement agreement was presented to the Jackson city council for approval at their meeting on May 3, 2016 and that the settlement was approved in principle. The attorneys are preparing a revised settlement agreement and will submit same to the Jackson city council for final approval at their June 7, 2016 meeting. The Court will notice a telephonic status call for June 9, 2016 at 3:00 PM. (SR)

May 5, 2016

May 5, 2016

PACER

NOTICE of Hearing: Telephonic Status Conference set for 6/9/2016 03:00 PM before Magistrate Judge Robert H. Walker. Plaintiff will place the telephone call to Judge Walker's chambers with all necessary counsel on the line. (SR)

May 5, 2016

May 5, 2016

PACER

Minute Entry for proceedings held before Magistrate Judge Robert H. Walker: Telephonic Status Conference held on 6/9/2016 with attorneys J. Cliff Johnson and LaShundra B. Jackson-Winters who advised that the case settled. The attorneys are directed to submit a proposed final judgment to Judge Lee no later than Friday, June 17, 2016. (SR)

June 9, 2016

June 9, 2016

PACER
13

DECLARATORY JUDGMENT: it violates the Constitution to incarcerate an individual, either before or after trial, solely because an individual does not have the ability to make a monetary payment. Signed by District Judge Tom S. Lee on 6/20/16 (LWE) (Entered: 06/20/2016)

June 20, 2016

June 20, 2016

RECAP
14

FINAL JUDGMENT dismissing plaintiff's claims with prejudice. Signed by District Judge Tom S. Lee on 6/20/16. (RRL) (Entered: 06/20/2016)

June 20, 2016

June 20, 2016

RECAP
15

MOTION to Intervene by Professional Bail Agents Association of Mississippi, Inc. (Attachments: # 1 Exhibit Proposed Motion to Alter or Amend Final Judgment, or in the Alternative, for Relief from Final Judgment, # 2 Exhibit Proposed Memorandum Brief in Support of Motion to Alter or Amend Final Judgment, or in the Alternative, for Relief from Final Judgment, # 3 Exhibit Complaint in Jenkins vs. City of Jennings, # 4 Exhibit Judgment in Jenkins vs. City of Jennings, # 5 Exhibit Complaint in Kennedy vs. City of Biloxi, # 6 Exhibit Settlement Agreement in Kennedy vs. City of Biloxi, # 7 Exhibit Complaint in Thompson vs. City of Moss Point, # 8 Exhibit Final Judgment in Thompson vs. City of Moss Point, # 9 Exhibit Unopposed Motion for Joinder of Parties in Mitchell vs. City of Montgomery, # 10 Exhibit Declaration of Wayne Dowdle)(Smith, Christopher) (Entered: 06/28/2016)

1 Exhibit Proposed Motion to Alter or Amend Final Judgment, or in the Alternative,

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2 Exhibit Proposed Memorandum Brief in Support of Motion to Alter or Amend Final J

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3 Exhibit Complaint in Jenkins vs. City of Jennings

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4 Exhibit Judgment in Jenkins vs. City of Jennings

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5 Exhibit Complaint in Kennedy vs. City of Biloxi

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6 Exhibit Settlement Agreement in Kennedy vs. City of Biloxi

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7 Exhibit Complaint in Thompson vs. City of Moss Point

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8 Exhibit Final Judgment in Thompson vs. City of Moss Point

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9 Exhibit Unopposed Motion for Joinder of Parties in Mitchell vs. City of Montgome

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10 Exhibit Declaration of Wayne Dowdle

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June 28, 2016

June 28, 2016

PACER
16

MEMORANDUM in Support re 15 MOTION to Intervene filed by Professional Bail Agents Association of Mississippi, Inc. (Smith, Christopher) (Entered: 06/28/2016)

June 28, 2016

June 28, 2016

PACER
17

RESPONSE in Opposition re 15 MOTION to Intervene filed by Jerome Bell, Domonic Butler, Michael Davis, Marteze Harris, Ricky Lambert, James Sheppard, Jarmale Walker (Howard, Jacob) (Entered: 07/12/2016)

July 12, 2016

July 12, 2016

PACER
18

MEMORANDUM in Opposition re 15 MOTION to Intervene filed by Jerome Bell, Domonic Butler, Michael Davis, Marteze Harris, Ricky Lambert, James Sheppard, Jarmale Walker (Attachments: # 1 Exhibit Exhibit A - McComb Order)(Howard, Jacob) (Entered: 07/12/2016)

1 Exhibit Exhibit A - McComb Order

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July 12, 2016

July 12, 2016

PACER
19

RESPONSE in Opposition re 15 MOTION to Intervene filed by The City of Jackson, Mississippi (Jackson-Winters-City Gov, LaShundra) (Entered: 07/12/2016)

July 12, 2016

July 12, 2016

PACER
20

Rebuttal re 19 Response in Opposition to Motion to Intervene filed by Professional Bail Agents Association of Mississippi, Inc. (Holder, G.) (Entered: 07/20/2016)

July 20, 2016

July 20, 2016

PACER
21

ORDER denying 15 Motion to Intervene field by Professional Bail Agents Association of Mississippi. (party terminated) Signed by District Judge Tom S. Lee on 8/25/16 (LWE) (Entered: 08/25/2016)

Aug. 25, 2016

Aug. 25, 2016

RECAP

Case Details

State / Territory: Mississippi

Case Type(s):

Jail Conditions

Special Collection(s):

Fines/Fees/Bail Reform (Criminalization of Poverty)

Multi-LexSum (in sample)

Key Dates

Filing Date: Oct. 9, 2015

Closing Date: 2016

Case Ongoing: No

Plaintiffs

Plaintiff Description:

Seven impoverished people who were incarcerated by the City of Jackson, Mississippi because they were unable to pay debts allegedly owed to the City for traffic violations and other misdemeanor offenses

Plaintiff Type(s):

Private Plaintiff

Attorney Organizations:

Equal Justice Under Law

Public Interest Lawyer: Yes

Filed Pro Se: No

Class Action Sought: Yes

Class Action Outcome: Denied

Defendants

City of Jackson, Mississippi (Jackson, Hinds), City

Defendant Type(s):

Jurisdiction-wide

Case Details

Causes of Action:

42 U.S.C. § 1983

Declaratory Judgment Act, 28 U.S.C. § 2201

Constitutional Clause(s):

Due Process

Excessive bail/fines

Slavery/Involuntary servitude

Equal Protection

Available Documents:

Trial Court Docket

Complaint (any)

Injunctive (or Injunctive-like) Relief

Outcome

Prevailing Party: Plaintiff

Nature of Relief:

Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement

Declaratory Judgment

Source of Relief:

Settlement

Form of Settlement:

Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree

Content of Injunction:

Reporting

Training

Issues

General:

Fines/Fees/Bail/Bond

Over/Unlawful Detention

Disability and Disability Rights:

disability, unspecified

Type of Facility:

Government-run