The author argues for an exception to the Younger v. Harris, 401 U.S. 37 (1971) abstention doctrine (Younger abstention) in cases challenging the criminalization of poverty.
This law review article makes the case that the Eight Amendment’s Excessive Fines Clause may be a better, albeit underdeveloped, provision to address the epidemic of debtor’s prisons.
This complaint alleges that the cities of Indio and Coachella outsourced the prosecution of some municipal code violations to a private law firm, Silver and Wright LLP.
Velia Duenas, a homeless, married mother of two children, had her license suspended because she was unable to pay $1088 for three juvenile citations. She continued to drive, received three misdemeanor convictions, and spent 141 days in jail because she was unable to pay the fines.
Appellant was held in contempt and incarcerated for failure to pay his court fines and fees without any inquiry into his ability to pay. The appellant mentioned that his sibling may be able to pay, but no further inquiry was made by the court. He was sentenced to thirty days imprisonment with credit for time served and a $200 fee to purge the contempt.
Plaintiffs allege that defendant’s practice of suspending drivers’ licenses indefinitely until all court fines and fees are paid regardless of ability to pay violates equal protection and due process.
In Thompson v. State of Florida, the plaintiff, an indigent mother of three, had her probation revoked for failure to pay fines and fees.
The plaintiff alleged that the two defendant-judges instituted an “Amnesty Program” that forgave fees owed by probation clients to the plaintiff, which interfered with the contractual relationship that existed between the plaintiff and its probation clients. Furthermore, the plaintiff alleged that the defendant judges used their judicial office and powers to unlawfully take plaintiff’s substantial property rights without due process of law.
Rebellious lawyering empowers those affected by the issue to come up with solutions to their own problems. It should be a collective effort between the lawyers and legal services clients and community members from grassroots organizing groups.
In misdemeanor and felony cases, Tennessee automatically revoked a person’s driver’s license if they failed to pay court fines and fees one year after they were imposed.