Mitchell v. City of Montgomery

Summary of the cause of action

Unable to pay debt from traffic tickets, impoverished defendants were given the options of paying the debt immediately or sitting out their debt in jail at the rate of $50.00 a day. Those in jail were given the further option of performing janitorial services at the rate of $25.00 a day. No inquiry was made as to the defendant’s ability to pay. The complaint also highlights that the City contracted with a probation company and referred to debt collection as probation. Defendants placed on payment plan paid additional fees for the services of the probation company.


In November 2014, the District Court granted declaratory and injunctive relief based on the settlement agreement presented by the parties. Settlement included:

  • Microphone to be used in court proceedings
  • Counsel to be identified within 12 hours if their client is being arrested for nonpayment of a fine
  • Prosecutors and defense counsel to be trained on the holdings of Bearden v. Georgia and Turner v. Rodgers
  • Grant the public easier access to the courtroom

Plaintiffs filed a notice of willful violation of court order in April 2015, but the issues appear to have been resolved.

You can read a detailed summary and other documents via the Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse.

42 U.S.C. § 1983 (alleging due process and equal protection violations)
2:14-cv-00186 (M.D. Ala.)
March 2014
Equal Justice Under Law