Canaan v. City of El Paso

This case challenged the City of El Paso’s payment policy for Class C misdemeanors – usually parking tickets. The City repeatedly informed plaintiffs that they must pay their fines and fees in full; pay 25% upfront to qualify for a payment plan with the amount due in full within 90 days; or go to jail. The plaintiffs were never informed of the option to assert indigency. People arrested on an outstanding traffic warrant were fined an additional $64-$97 in court costs and warrant fees.


Defendants filed a motion to dismiss on several grounds. Motion to dismiss granted in part for failure to state a claim and denied in part because the City’s motions failed to address the Equal Protection claims raised by the plaintiffs. Motion granted with respect to Plaintiffs’ due process claim; the Court held that City has no constitutional duty to inform a defendant of alternatives to payment at the indigency hearing. Plaintiffs were permitted to file an amended Complaint and the case was settled.

Parties agreed that for three years from the date of the agreement:

  • City through its officials will provide notices of the defendant’s right to an indigency determination, court processes, community service, and payment of fines.
  • Provide notices for the hearings and the hearing schedules.
  • Inform defendants of policies and procedures for indigency hearings.

You can find a detailed summary and case documents via the Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse. You can also read more about one of the plaintiffs, Levi Lane.

42 U.S.C. § 1983 (alleging due process violations)
16-cv-00132 (W.D. Tex.)
May 2016
Texas Civil Rights Project, Texas RioGrande Legal Aid, Inc., The Law Office of Lynn Cole, PLLC, Law Office of Enrique Moreno, Paso del Norte Civil Rights Project, Texas Legal Services Center