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Case Name Parga v. Tulsa County CJ-OK-0006
Docket / Court 4:18-cv-00298-CVE-JFJ ( N.D. Okla. )
State/Territory Oklahoma
Case Type(s) Criminal Justice (Other)
Special Collection COVID-19 (novel coronavirus)
Fines/Fees/Bail Reform (Criminalization of poverty)
Attorney Organization Civil Rights Corps
Case Summary
Individuals incarcerated in the Tulsa jail sued Tulsa County, the Tulsa County Sheriff, fifteen Special Judges and a district court judge in challenging the constitutionality of the county's wealth-based pretrial detention system. On June 6, 2018, the four plaintiffs, represented by Civil Rights ... read more >
Individuals incarcerated in the Tulsa jail sued Tulsa County, the Tulsa County Sheriff, fifteen Special Judges and a district court judge in challenging the constitutionality of the county's wealth-based pretrial detention system. On June 6, 2018, the four plaintiffs, represented by Civil Rights Corps, filed this class-action lawsuit in the Northern District of Oklahoma. The case was assigned to Judge Claire Eagan. The plaintiffs brought claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and the Declaratory Judgement Act, alleging that defendants violated their Equal Protection, Due Process, and Sixth Amendment rights by depriving them of their fundamental right to pretrial liberty and failing to provide counsel at bail hearings. The plaintiffs sought declaratory relief, as well as preliminary and permanent injunctive relief preventing the defendants from assigning bail without inquiring as to whether criminal defendants can pay it. The plaintiffs also asked the court to permanently enjoin the defendants from denying the putative class-members the right to a speedy, individualized hearing with counsel.

The plaintiffs were each arrested and informed that they had to pay bail ranging from $500 to $50,000 in order to be released from jail before their hearing. They were not asked whether they could afford the bond; because none of them had the financial resources to post bail, they were held for up to 11 days before their hearing without access to legal counsel. The plaintiffs alleged that this "wealth-based detention scheme" jailed presumptively innocent people for at least a week before they are able to challenge their detention. Such a system, the plaintiffs contend, violates the the Sixth and Fourteenth Amendments.

The same day that the complaint was filed, the plaintiffs asked for the court to certify their class. The plaintiffs proposed class consisted of "all people who are or will be detained in the Tulsa County Jail because they are unable to pay a secured financial condition of release."

The Tulsa County Sheriff answered the complaint on August 3, 2018, and the defendant-judges moved to dismiss for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction and for failure to state a claim. The defendant-judges argued that the plaintiffs failed to use available state court remedies, such as criminal appellate or habeas processes, that could provide relief. Additionally, the defendant-judges also argued that the plaintiffs failed to allege specific misconduct beyond the judges' lack of addressing bail at arraignments.

The plaintiffs filed an amended complaint on October 22, 2018. However, on November 19, the court dismissed the plaintiffs' amended complaint, the plaintiffs' motion for class-certification, and the defendant-judges' motion to dismiss as moot. 2018 WL 6048016. The court found that the plaintiffs paid their bonds and were released from jail in the days following the original complaint and therefore no longer suffered an actual injury. The court also determined that the "capable of repetition, yet evading review" exception did not apply because these four plaintiffs were expected to comply with the law and therefore this injury was not expected to repeat with regards to these plaintiffs. Additionally, the Court found that the claims were not "inherently transitory."

On December 11, 2018, the plaintiffs filed a motion to reconsider the court's judgment. The plaintiffs objected to the court's characterization of their claims. The plaintiffs argued that they did not challenge their pretrial detention per se, but rather challenged their pretrial detention without counsel and a hearing. The plaintiffs argued that this characterization fit the "inherently transitory" exception to mootness because the Court could not reasonably consider a class certification motion before any named plaintiffs’ individual claims became moot.

Judge Eagan agreed with the plaintiffs and, on March 15, 2019, granted their motion for reconsideration. 2019 WL 1231675. The court reinstated the plaintiff's amended complaint and motion for class certification, and also reinstated the defendant-judges' motion to dismiss.

With the case active again, the defendant-judges filed their answer on March 25, 2019, and responded in opposition the plaintiffs' motion for class certification on April 15. The defendants also moved to stay the proceedings until the Oklahoma Senate considered a bill that would require individualized considerations of the ability to pay bail. On May 9, Judge Eagan granted the motion until the end of the legislative session or until the bill was signed into law. On June 14, the stay was lifted as the legislative session had ended.

The defendant-judges again moved to dismiss the claim for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction on December 10. The defendants argued that the plaintiffs lacked standing, since their pre-trial detention had ended and therefore they were no longer suffering an injury.

After engaging in settlement talks but failing to reach an agreement, the plaintiffs filed a motion seeking a temporary restraining order and a preliminary injunction. They contended that the COVID-19 pandemic altered the conditions of detention such that injunctive relief was required in order to prevent irreparable harm to people detained solely based on their inability to pay bail. Judge Eagan denied the plaintiffs' motion on May 11, finding that the preliminary relief was inappropriate given the lack of COVID cases in Tulsa County jails at that time and because a preliminary injunction would not solve the bail issue raised before the pandemic began. 2020 WL 2393855.

As of January 13, 2021, the case remains ongoing.

Justin Hill - 01/13/2021


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Assistance of counsel (6th Amendment)
Due Process
Due Process: Procedural Due Process
Due Process: Substantive Due Process
Equal Protection
Defendant-type
Jurisdiction-wide
General
Access to lawyers or judicial system
Fines/Fees/Bail/Bond
Over/Unlawful Detention
Placement in detention facilities
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Declaratory Judgment Act, 28 U.S.C. § 2201
Defendant(s) Tulsa County
Tulsa County District Court Judge
Tulsa County Sheriff
Tulsa County Special Judges
Plaintiff Description People detained in jail without consideration of their ability to pay bail.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations Civil Rights Corps
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status outcome Pending
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party None Yet / None
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief None yet
Source of Relief None yet
Filed 06/06/2018
Case Ongoing Yes
Additional Resources
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  See this case at CourtListener.com (May provide additional documents and, for active cases, real-time alerts)
  Tulsa County, OK: Bail
http://www.civilrightscorps.org/
Date: Jun. 6, 2018
By: Civil Rights Corps
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

Court Docket(s)
N.D. Okla.
01/11/2021
4:18-cv-00298-CVE-JFJ
CJ-OK-0006-9000.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
N.D. Okla.
06/06/2018
Class Action Complaint [ECF# 2]
CJ-OK-0006-0001.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
N.D. Okla.
10/22/2018
First Amended Class Action Complaint [ECF# 32]
CJ-OK-0006-0002.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
N.D. Okla.
11/19/2018
Opinion and Order [ECF# 40] (2018 WL 6048016)
CJ-OK-0006-0003.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
N.D. Okla.
04/03/2020
Plaintiff's Motion for a Temporary Restraining Order and Preliminary Injunction Against Defendant Tulsa County Sheriff [ECF# 158]
CJ-OK-0006-0004.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
N.D. Okla.
05/11/2020
Opinion and Order [ECF# 191] (2020 WL 2393855)
CJ-OK-0006-0005.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
show all people docs
Judges Eagan, Claire (FISC, N.D. Okla.) show/hide docs
CJ-OK-0006-0003 | CJ-OK-0006-0005 | CJ-OK-0006-9000
Jayne, Jodi F. Court not on record [Magistrate] show/hide docs
CJ-OK-0006-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Animashaun, Akeeb Dami (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
CJ-OK-0006-0001 | CJ-OK-0006-0002 | CJ-OK-0006-9000
Downer, Ryan Chasce (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
CJ-OK-0006-0004 | CJ-OK-0006-9000
Gaztambide−Arandes, Laura (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
CJ-OK-0006-9000
Gerstein, Charles L. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
CJ-OK-0006-0001 | CJ-OK-0006-0002 | CJ-OK-0006-0004 | CJ-OK-0006-9000
Hamilton, Ruth Ellen Lando (Oklahoma) show/hide docs
CJ-OK-0006-0001 | CJ-OK-0006-0002 | CJ-OK-0006-9000
Holt, Allison (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
CJ-OK-0006-9000
Horowitz, Hayley (New York) show/hide docs
CJ-OK-0006-0001 | CJ-OK-0006-0002 | CJ-OK-0006-0004 | CJ-OK-0006-9000
Iliadis, Vassi (California) show/hide docs
CJ-OK-0006-9000
Karakatsanis, Alec (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
CJ-OK-0006-0001 | CJ-OK-0006-0002 | CJ-OK-0006-9000
Kasdin, Phoebe Anne (Oklahoma) show/hide docs
CJ-OK-0006-9000
Kisloff, Michelle A. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
CJ-OK-0006-9000
Saleh, Kristina Michelle (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
CJ-OK-0006-0004 | CJ-OK-0006-9000
Twinem, Alexandria (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
CJ-OK-0006-0004 | CJ-OK-0006-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Hall, Kimberly Majors (Oklahoma) show/hide docs
CJ-OK-0006-9000
Lawson, Stefanie E. (Oklahoma) show/hide docs
CJ-OK-0006-9000
Moore, Erin (Oklahoma) show/hide docs
CJ-OK-0006-9000
Pederson, Devan (Oklahoma) show/hide docs
CJ-OK-0006-9000
Rea, James Griffin (Oklahoma) show/hide docs
CJ-OK-0006-9000
Wilson, Douglas Allen (Oklahoma) show/hide docs
CJ-OK-0006-9000

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