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Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
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Case Name Robinson v. Martin CJ-IL-0012
Docket / Court 2016-CH-13587 ( State Court )
State/Territory Illinois
Case Type(s) Criminal Justice (Other)
Special Collection Fines/Fees/Bail Reform (Criminalization of poverty)
Attorney Organization Civil Rights Corps
MacArthur Justice Center
Case Summary
Two men incarcerated in Cook County, Illinois, filed this class action lawsuit on October 14, 2016, in the Circuit Court of Cook County. The plaintiffs were eligible for release from jail but were detained because they could not afford the required bail. They brought their claims against a group of ... read more >
Two men incarcerated in Cook County, Illinois, filed this class action lawsuit on October 14, 2016, in the Circuit Court of Cook County. The plaintiffs were eligible for release from jail but were detained because they could not afford the required bail. They brought their claims against a group of judges in the Circuit Court of Cook County who had routinely applied Illinois's bail statute to set monetary bail in amounts higher than individuals were able to pay. They also included the Sheriff of Cook County as a defendant. The plaintiffs alleged that the judicial defendants engaged in this practice without inquiring into arrestees' ability to pay and provided no alternative for those who were indigent. As a result, thousands of people awaiting trial were held in Cook County jails simply because they were poor. Consequently, many lost their jobs, homes, custody of their children, and suffered other adverse consequences, including a higher likelihood of conviction. The plaintiffs also alleged that a disproportionate number of detained individuals were African American.

Represented by the MacArthur Justice Center, the Civil Rights Corps, and private counsel, the plaintiffs brought claims under 42 U.S.C. ยง 1983, alleging violations of the Equal Protection and Due Process Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, the Equal Protection and Due Process Clauses of the Illinois Constitution (Article One, Section Two), the Excessive Bail Clause of the Eighth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, the Bailable by Sufficient Sureties Clause of the Illinois Constitution (Article One, Section 9), and the Illinois Civil Rights Act of 2003. The plaintiffs sought declaratory and injunctive relief to enjoin defendants from unlawfully incarcerating those detained only because of inability to pay bail.

The plaintiffs filed an amended complaint on March 17, 2017. On April 14, the defendants filed a motion to dismiss, arguing that the plaintiffs' amended complaint was moot because a General Order issued by the Cook County Circuit Court Chief Judge adequately addressed their complaint. Based on the plaintiffs' response to the motion to dismiss, it appears the General Order was issued in response to plaintiffs' complaint and directed all circuit judges to follow certain procedures with respect to setting bail. It was set to go into effect in September of 2017 for felony cases and January of 2018 for all other cases. In their response motion to the defendants' motion to dismiss, the plaintiffs argued that the General Order did not have the force of law necessary to adequately address the plaintiffs' claims.

However, on June 26, 2018, Judge Celia Gamrath granted the defendants' motion to dismiss. Judge Gamrath found that various doctrines barred the plaintiffs' claims. She also noted that Illinois's bail reform legislation "change[d] the landscape for bond hearings for arrestees" and directed the plaintiffs to the legislature to effectuate further changes in the state's bail system. The plaintiffs appealed this ruling, but later voluntarily dismissed the appeal. The case is presumably closed.

Lauren Latterell Powell - 01/11/2018
Jonah Hudson-Erdman - 09/07/2021


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Due Process
Equal Protection
Defendant-type
Jurisdiction-wide
Discrimination-basis
Race discrimination
General
Bail/Bond
Courts
Disparate Impact
Fines/Fees/Bail/Bond
Over/Unlawful Detention
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Race
Black
Causes of Action State law
Defendant(s) Cook County, Illinois
Plaintiff Description Individuals detained in Cook County, Illinois, jails solely because of inability to pay bail.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations Civil Rights Corps
MacArthur Justice Center
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status outcome Denied
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party Defendant
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief None
Source of Relief None
Filed 10/14/2016
Case Ongoing No
Additional Resources
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  Cook County, IL: Bail
http://www.civilrightscorps.org/
Date: Jul. 25, 2017
By: Civil Rights Corps
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

  Robinson v. Martin
MacArthur Justice Center
Date: Oct. 14, 2016
By: Locke Bowman and Alexa Van Brunt
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

Court Docket(s)
State Trial Court
11/22/2017
2016-CH-13587
CJ-IL-0012-9000.pdf | Detail
Source: Bloomberg Law
General Documents
State Trial Court
10/14/2016
Class Action Complaint [ECF# 1]
CJ-IL-0012-0001.pdf | External Link | Detail
State Trial Court
08/14/2017
Plaintiffs' Response in Opposition to Defendants' Supplemental 2-619 Motion to Dismiss for Mootness
CJ-IL-0012-0002.pdf | External Link | Detail
State Trial Court
06/26/2018
Order Granting Section 2-619.1 Motion to Dismiss
CJ-IL-0012-0005.pdf | Detail
show all people docs
Judges Gamrath, Celia G Court not on record show/hide docs
CJ-IL-0012-0005
Plaintiff's Lawyers Badlani, Chirag (Illinois) show/hide docs
CJ-IL-0012-0001 | CJ-IL-0012-0002
Bowman, Locke E. III (Illinois) show/hide docs
CJ-IL-0012-0001 | CJ-IL-0012-0002
Karakatsanis, Alec (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
CJ-IL-0012-0001 | CJ-IL-0012-0002
Piers, Matthew J. (Illinois) show/hide docs
CJ-IL-0012-0001 | CJ-IL-0012-0002
Robinson, Zachary (Illinois) show/hide docs
CJ-IL-0012-9000
Schwartz, Kate E. (Illinois) show/hide docs
CJ-IL-0012-0001 | CJ-IL-0012-0002
VanBrunt, Alexa (Illinois) show/hide docs
CJ-IL-0012-0001 | CJ-IL-0012-0002
Defendant's Lawyers Martin, Leroy Jr. (Illinois) show/hide docs
CJ-IL-0012-9000

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