This case was brought by a private probation company, Justice Network, Inc. (JNI). JNI had exclusive control of administering and collecting all misdemeanor probation fees in Craighead County. Contracts between JNI and each individual probationer stipulated that JNI would provide probation services for a monthly fee paid by the probationer. When probationers missed a fine/fee payment or any other provision of their probation, JNI sought arrest warrants, new restitution orders from the court, and imposed additional fines on probationers. The Craighead County established an Amnesty Program forgiving fees owed to JNI by the probationers. JNI sued the County and two district court judges to recoup the fees.
Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law filed an amicus brief in support of the defendants, highlighting the “perversity” of the plaintiffs who collected over “half a million dollars” from largely underprivileged residents in Craighead County.
Judge granted defendants’ motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim. JNI was not entitled to the probation fees because the judges acted in their official capacity to modify and terminate probation orders and were therefore entitled to absolute immunity. Further, the judges were employees of the state and not the County thus even if they acted outside of their capacity, their actions could not be imputed to the County.
You can find a detailed summary and case documents via the Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse.