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Contra Costa County Resolution No. 2019/522: Moratorium on the assessment and collection of certain adult criminal justice fees.

This resolution imposes an indefinite moratorium on the assessment and collection of certain criminal justice administrative fees charged by Contra Costa County, California. Specifically, the resolution addresses probation fees (including drug testing fees), public defender fees, and alternatives to incarceration such as electronic monitoring and work programs. 

Cain v. New Orleans

Plaintiff-Appellees were former criminal defendants in Orleans Parish Criminal District Court (OPCDC) who pleaded guilty to various criminal defenses and were assessed fines and fees. All were arrested for failure to pay their assessed fines and fees; bond was set at $20,000 each; and, they each spent between six days and two weeks in jail. The court’s collection of fines and fees funded about one quarter of the Judicial Expense Fund (JEF); the Judges had exclusive control over how the JEF was spent and generally used it for court staff salaries as well as other administrative and maintenance expenses.

Briggs v. Montgomery

This case challenges a marijuana diversion program operated by the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office. People who can afford to pay finish the program in 3 months. Those who can’t pay must stay in the program for at least six months or until they pay the fees owed, even if they have satisfied every program requirement other than payment.

Fulton et al v. City of Chicago

Plaintiff alleges that the City of Chicago ignored the automatic stay protection under the Bankruptcy Code. The City impounded Mr. Fulton’s car because he had unpaid fines and fees, and informed him that the vehicle would only be returned when the court debt was paid. Mr. Fulton declared bankruptcy, and the automatic stay provision required that vehicles be returned to debtors who file for bankruptcy. The City argued that impoundment as a deterrence helped to enforce traffic regulations. Debtors argued that the City was more concerned with revenue collection than public safety.

Iowa v. Jane Doe

Jane Doe, an indigent woman, was denied expungement for failure to pay court-appointed attorney fees. Doe argued that her equal protection rights were violated because defendants who owe fees to privately retained attorneys can expunge their criminal records, while defendants owing court-appointed attorney fees cannot.

Ficken v. City of Dunedin et al

Plaintiff James Ficken had grass over ten inches for about eight weeks during the summer of 2018 while he was out of town settling his mother’s estate. Without warning, he was hit with daily fines totaling $29,000. As a result of his inability to pay the $29,000 in fines, the City placed two liens on his property. Mr. Ficken requested a rehearing or reconsideration of the fines, but his request was rejected without explanation. He now faces imminent foreclosure because he does not have the money to satisfy the liens.

Timbs v. Indiana

Petitioner used life insurance proceeds to purchase a Land Rover for $41,558.30. He used the vehicle to transport heroin worth a total of $385. He was arrested and his vehicle was seized. Petitioner argued that the forfeiture was excessive in violation of the Eight Amendment’s excessive fines clause.

Rodriguez v. Mach

Plaintiffs argue that their Equal protection and Due process rights were violated because of the inadequate notices, lack of inquiry into their ability to pay, and the suspension of their licenses solely because of their inability to pay.

Cook v. Taylor

This class action alleges that Alabama’s driver’s license suspension practices violate equal protection and due process because people are being punished without any determination of their ability to pay.
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