University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
new search
page permalink
Case Name E.B. v. Landry CJ-LA-0018
Docket / Court 3:19-cv-00862 ( M.D. La. )
State/Territory Louisiana
Case Type(s) Criminal Justice (Other)
Special Collection Fines/Fees/Bail Reform (Criminalization of poverty)
Attorney Organization Equal Justice Under Law
Case Summary
Plaintiffs, three persons seeking to expunge various criminal records in Louisiana, filed this putative class action lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Louisiana on December 13, 2019, challenging Louisiana’s expungement fees. In particular, the plaintiffs challenged ... read more >
Plaintiffs, three persons seeking to expunge various criminal records in Louisiana, filed this putative class action lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Louisiana on December 13, 2019, challenging Louisiana’s expungement fees. In particular, the plaintiffs challenged the $550 fee per expungement “event”—that is, per record per date per jurisdiction—as wealth-based discrimination in violation of fundamental fairness, procedural due process, and equal protection. They brought the action on behalf of themselves and “all Louisianans who have or will have criminal record events that qualify for expungement and who cannot afford the costs and fees Defendants require for those expungements.” They also sought to represent a subclass of all Louisianans who have or will have non-conviction criminal record events but who cannot obtain a statutory fee waiver to expunge those events because of a prior conviction. Plaintiffs were represented by Equal Justice Under Law and The First 72+.
The case was assigned to U.S. District Judge John W. deGravelles.

The putative named plaintiffs had been arrested but not convicted of certain crimes, pled guilty or been convicted of misdemeanor or non-violent felony offenses, and/or had convictions that had been set aside by the criminal court, all of which qualified for expungement. Although fee waivers were available in some cases, the plaintiffs did not qualify because of exclusions for those with prior felony convictions or pending felony charges, and because clerks throughout the state could discretionarily decline fee waivers with input from prosecutors. The plaintiffs asserted that the high costs of expungement and the discretionary fee waiver decisions not tied to indigency were irrational, undermined the stated purpose of the expungement laws enacted by the legislature, and impermissibly distinguished between persons with the same criminal record events.

The plaintiffs sought to bring this action against the Attorney General of Louisiana in his official capacity, the Clerk of Court of the East Baton Rouge Parish Court, in his official capacity and as a representative of a defendant class comprised of all parish clerks in the state, and the District Attorney of East Baton Rouge Parish, in his official capacity, and as a representative of a defendant class comprised of all district attorneys in the state. They requested declaratory and injunctive relief.

On June 30, 2020, the court rejected as premature plaintiffs’ pre-discovery request to certify the plaintiff and defendant classes, in light of “pending motions to dismiss and having considered the record as a whole.” 2020 WL 6439503. It therefore denied without prejudice plaintiffs’ motions to certify.

Thereafter, on March 30, 2021, the court granted in part and denied in part the defendants’ motions to dismiss the action. In two separate motions, defendants had sought dismissal on the basis of lack of subject matter jurisdiction, sovereign immunity, the applicability of the Tax Injunction Act, and failure to state a claim. The court agreed that the plaintiffs lacked standing to sue, and did not reach the other asserted grounds for dismissal. Assuming without deciding that the plaintiffs had satisfied Article III’s injury-in-fact requirement, the court held that the plaintiffs nonetheless failed to establish causation, that is, how the defendants had done anything personally to cause them harm. Because the plaintiffs had failed to allege that they were convicted of any crimes in East Baton Rouge Parish, and there was no basis for so inferring, their injuries were not traceable to the East Baton Rouge Parish officials named as defendants in the lawsuit. Moreover, the plaintiffs did not allege that the attorney general had any involvement in prosecuting or otherwise making decisions about their cases or expungement processes. Therefore, because the plaintiffs had failed adequately to allege the causation or redressability required for standing, dismissal was appropriate. Ultimately, the court dismissed the action without prejudice for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. 2021 WL 1201667.

On May 7, 2021, the plaintiffs filed an amended complaint removing the Attorney General as a defendant and naming, instead, the Clerks of Courts of East Baton Rouge Parish, Livingston Paris, Orleans Parish, and Jefferson Parish, and the District Attorneys of the corresponding Districts, again as putative defendant class representatives. The allegations were amended to specify the parishes in which the plaintiffs’ relevant arrests, pleas, and/or convictions occurred. On July 9, 2021, the defendants renewed their motion to dismiss. That motion remains pending.


Tessa Bialek - 09/24/2021


compress summary

- click to show/hide ALL -
Issues and Causes of Action
click to show/hide detail
Issues
Constitutional Clause
Due Process: Procedural Due Process
Due Process: Substantive Due Process
Equal Protection
Defendant-type
Jurisdiction-wide
Law-enforcement
General
Fines/Fees/Bail/Bond
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Ex parte Young (federal or state officials)
Defendant(s) Clerk of Court
Clerk of Court
Clerk of Court
Clerk of Court
District Attorney
District Attorney
District Attorney
District Attorney
Plaintiff Description A putative class of all Louisianans who have or will have criminal record events that qualify for expungement and who cannot afford the costs and fees required for those expungements, and a putative subclass of all Louisianans who have or will have non-conviction criminal record events but who cannot obtain a statutory fee waiver to expunge those events because of a prior conviction.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations Equal Justice Under Law
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 12/13/2019
Case Ongoing Yes
Additional Resources
click to show/hide detail
  See this case at CourtListener.com (May provide additional documents and, for active cases, real-time alerts)
  E.B. et al v. Louisiana Attorney General
Equal Justice Under Law
Date: Dec. 13, 2019
By: Equal Justice Under Law
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

Court Docket(s)
M.D. La.
08/28/2021
3:19-cv-00862-JWD-SDJ
CJ-LA-0018-9000.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
M.D. La.
12/13/2019
Class Action [ECF# 1]
CJ-LA-0018-0002.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
M.D. La.
03/30/2021
Ruling and Order [ECF# 55] (2021 WL 1201667)
CJ-LA-0018-0003.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
M.D. La.
05/07/2021
Second Amended Complaint [ECF# 60 & 60-1 to 60-3]
CJ-LA-0018-0001.pdf | Detail
Source: Plaintiffs' counsel
show all people docs
Judges DeGravelles, John Wheadon (M.D. La.) show/hide docs
CJ-LA-0018-0003 | CJ-LA-0018-9000
Johnson, Scott D. Court not on record [Magistrate] show/hide docs
CJ-LA-0018-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Davy, James (Pennsylvania) show/hide docs
CJ-LA-0018-0002 | CJ-LA-0018-9000
Orians, Kelly Elizabeth (Louisiana) show/hide docs
CJ-LA-0018-0001 | CJ-LA-0018-0002 | CJ-LA-0018-9000
Telfeyan, Phil (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
CJ-LA-0018-0001 | CJ-LA-0018-0002 | CJ-LA-0018-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Alford, William Raley III (Louisiana) show/hide docs
CJ-LA-0018-9000
Alford, John Salm (Louisiana) show/hide docs
CJ-LA-0018-9000
Bandaries, Madro (Louisiana) show/hide docs
CJ-LA-0018-9000
Cody, Jeffrey K. (Louisiana) show/hide docs
CJ-LA-0018-9000
Daste, Carey Buckland (Louisiana) show/hide docs
CJ-LA-0018-9000
Lee, Dale R. (Louisiana) show/hide docs
CJ-LA-0018-9000
Murphy, John Gregory (Louisiana) show/hide docs
CJ-LA-0018-9000
Paul, Matthew J. (Louisiana) show/hide docs
CJ-LA-0018-9000
Perrilloux, Scott M (Louisiana) show/hide docs
CJ-LA-0018-9000
Rushton, Douglas Edward Jr (Louisiana) show/hide docs
CJ-LA-0018-9000
St. John, Joseph S (Louisiana) show/hide docs
CJ-LA-0018-9000
Walsh, John Carroll (Louisiana) show/hide docs
CJ-LA-0018-9000
Wright, Stacy Lynn (Louisiana) show/hide docs
CJ-LA-0018-9000

- click to show/hide ALL -

new search
page permalink

- top of page -