Summary of the cause of action
The New Orleans Parish Criminal District Court jails indigent defendants who are unable to pay post-judgement court fines and fees. Court costs are imposed without an inquiry as to the defendant’s ability to pay. Those unable to pay are sent to the Collections Department, again without any ability to pay inquiry, and a monthly payment is set. Failure to pay results in an arrest warrant which has a preset $20,000 secured bond for release. Those arrested spend at least a week in jail unless they have family and friends who are able to raise the money to pay for their release. When they appear before the judge, the judge will either send them back to jail or release them “on a threat of further incarceration” if they fail to make their payments.
Defendant’s motion for summary judgment on violation of the Equal Protection Clause was granted and the case is currently on appeal in the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.
You can find relevant court documents via the Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse.