Case: Commonwealth v. Wagle

1613CR003391 | Massachusetts state trial court

Filed Date: Aug. 5, 2016

Clearinghouse coding complete

Case Summary

On August 5th, 2016, attorneys from the Committee for Public Counsel Services in Massachusetts and from Equal Justice Under Law filed a petition in the Supreme Judicial Court for Suffolk County in Massachusetts. The attorneys represented an indigent woman charged with possession of a Class A controlled substance who had been jailed for being unable to pay her $250 bail. The plaintiff's petition challenged her detention as unlawful due to the State's failure to consider her ability to pay when s…

On August 5th, 2016, attorneys from the Committee for Public Counsel Services in Massachusetts and from Equal Justice Under Law filed a petition in the Supreme Judicial Court for Suffolk County in Massachusetts. The attorneys represented an indigent woman charged with possession of a Class A controlled substance who had been jailed for being unable to pay her $250 bail. The plaintiff's petition challenged her detention as unlawful due to the State's failure to consider her ability to pay when setting her bail and jailing her simply because she was poor. The plaintiff claimed a failure to make this inquiry violated her Equal Protection and Due Process rights.

On August 25th, 2016, Justice Geraldine S. Hines issued an order reducing the plaintiff's bail from $250 to $200 after taking into account her ability to pay. Though Justice Hines recognized that plaintiff's bail issue was now moot, she noted that plaintiff's petition raised important constitutional questions. The court gave the plaintiff's attorneys leave to file an amended petition within thirty days to address whether the Massachusetts bail statute and its application are constitutional and to request systemic relief on behalf of a class of similarly situated individuals in the criminal justice system.

The plaintiff's attorneys filed an amended petition for relief on September 23, 2016, and the state filed its opposition on October 25. Justice Hines held hearings on January 27, 2017 and denied relief on August 8, 2017. Because the Court denied relief and because there has been no further activity on the docket, the case seems now to have ended, though it has not officially been closed.

Summary Authors

Sarah Du (10/18/2018)

Documents in the Clearinghouse

Document

SJ-2016-0334

Docket

Massachusetts state supreme court

Aug. 8, 2017

Aug. 8, 2017

Docket

1482CV00448

Docket

Minich v. Spencer

Oct. 30, 2017

Oct. 30, 2017

Docket

1613CR003391

Petition for Relief Pursuant to G.L. c. 211 § 3

Massachusetts state supreme court

Aug. 5, 2016

Aug. 5, 2016

Complaint

Docket

Last updated June 26, 2022, 3:01 a.m.

Docket sheet not available via the Clearinghouse.

Case Details

State / Territory: Massachusetts

Case Type(s):

Criminal Justice (Other)

Special Collection(s):

Fines/Fees/Bail Reform (Criminalization of Poverty)

Key Dates

Filing Date: Aug. 5, 2016

Case Ongoing: Perhaps, but long-dormant

Plaintiffs

Plaintiff Description:

An indigent woman with no income or bank account assets who was charged with Possession of a Class A controlled substance and who was jailed for being unable to pay her $250 bail

Plaintiff Type(s):

Private Plaintiff

Attorney Organizations:

Equal Justice Under Law

Civil Rights Corps

Public Interest Lawyer: Yes

Filed Pro Se: No

Class Action Sought: Yes

Class Action Outcome: Mooted before ruling

Defendants

Massachusetts, State

Defendant Type(s):

Jurisdiction-wide

Case Details

Causes of Action:

State law

Constitutional Clause(s):

Due Process

Equal Protection

Excessive bail/fines

Special Case Type(s):

Criminal

Availably Documents:

Complaint (any)

Outcome

Prevailing Party: Defendant

Source of Relief:

Litigation

Issues

General:

Fines/Fees/Bail/Bond