United States District Court, N.D. Alabama, Southern Division
DAVID PROCTOR, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
matter is before the court on Plaintiffs’ Motion for
Class Certification. (Doc. # 707). The Motion has been fully
briefed. (Docs. # 708, 709, 714, 715 and 719). After careful
review, and for the reasons discussed below, the court
concludes the Motion is due to be denied.
named Plaintiffs in this action were ticketed for various
traffic offenses and sentenced to probation by the City of
Childersburg Municipal Court because they did not pay the
fines or court costs imposed by the Municipal Court on the
date of their sentencings. Individuals who were unable to
immediately pay all fines and costs imposed by the court were
placed on probation under the supervision of Judicial
Correction Services (“JCS” or
“Defendant”). (Doc. # 305 at ¶¶ 97-98).
While on probation, Plaintiffs were required to pay an
additional $35 to $45 a month to JCS (on top of their fines
and court costs). Plaintiffs assert that “[t]his [was]
routinely done with no investigation into the indigency of
the individual or the reasons for their inability to pay the
fine and costs.” (Id. at ¶ 22).
Plaintiffs further allege that these practices violated their
constitutional rights. (Doc. # 305 at ¶ 14).
marketed its private probation services to cities and towns
throughout Alabama and, in doing so, presented them as
“offender paid” services. (Doc. # 392-11 at
192-93). JCS did not charge a City or Municipal Court for its
services, but instead collected a “$35.00 per month
flat fee” and an additional “[o]ne time
probationer set-up fee of $10.00” from
“probationers.” (Doc. # 392-16 at 6). Once JCS
started charging its monthly fees, a person on probation
could not end her sentence by simply paying off the amount of
the original debt. (Doc. 195-1 at 109-10).
began contracting with JCS in 2005. (Doc. # 421-7 at 2). The
contract provided that JCS would collect fines, restitution,
and court costs on behalf of a Municipal Court. (Doc. #
392-16 at 4). JCS’s standard contract required JCS to
perform supervision for “all probated cases sentenced
by the [Municipal] Court, ” including indigent
probationers. (Id.). However, JCS agreed not to
charge its standard probation fees to indigent probationers
or to probationers who paid their fines and court costs
within a week of their sentencing hearing. (Id. at
4). The contract required JCS to maintain case files
“with the terms and conditions of probation, reporting
dates, field contacts as they occur and . . . the amounts and
dates of monies collected.” (Id.).
policies and procedures were set forth in three main sources:
(1) the JCS contract; (2) the JCS Probation Tracker software
program, which was used to manage probation cases; and (3)
the JCS Training Manual. JCS employees were trained using the
JCS Training Manual, a copy was kept at every office, and
every employee had access to Probation Tracker. (Doc. #
392-11 at 65-66, 77, 107-108). The JCS Training Manual
provides a flow chart for “Working a Typical Case,
” and describes how to perform tasks in Probation
Tracker, including the use of various codes to indicate each
probationer’s status and associated actions taken by
JCS. (Doc. # 392-11 at 65-66, 77, 107-108).
city contracted with JCS, JCS provided form Probation Orders.
(Docs. # 392-11 at 170-72; 195-1 at 232). The pre-printed
form orders included the standard “conditions of
probation, ” and were filled out by JCS employees.
(Doc. # 708-2 at 27). The form Order contained a single line
printed at the bottom of the page stating, “I have
counsel or have waived my right to counsel for all
proceedings to this date and have received a copy of this
ORDER.” (Doc. # 708-2 at 27). The form contains no
explanation regarding the right to counsel. (Id.).
Tracker also contains a case file for each person on
probation, and each file has a page where JCS employees can
chronicle collection efforts and information gathered.
Documents generated by the Municipal Court were generally
scanned into Probation Tracker and linked to the
individual’s case file. (Docs. # 392-11 at 170-72;
195-1 at 232). JCS’s records indicate a large number of
people sentenced to JCS probation by the Childersburg
Municipal Court were collecting SSI or unemployed. (Docs. #
708-1 at ¶ 59; 708-7 at 801-805). Nonetheless, the
record contains evidence that neither JCS nor the
Childersburg Municipal Court had a practice of inquiring into
whether people had the ability to pay the court debt or fees
at any point. (Docs. # 392-11 at 161; 195-1 at 232).
probationers could not make a scheduled payment, JCS
threatened to have them arrested. (Docs. # 195-1 at 304;
641-46 at 131). And when they could only make a partial
payment, JCS often allocated as much of the payment (or, in
some instances, even more) to its own fees as it did to the
court’s fine, thereby prolonging the amount of time it
took for debtors to satisfy their underlying debts to the
city. (Docs. # 697 at 73-75, 88, 104; 697-7 at 1; 697-1).
debtor repeatedly failed to make payments, JCS generated a
petition for revocation, which requested the Municipal Court
to revoke the debtor’s probation and issue an arrest
warrant. (Docs. # 697-11 at 46; 626 at 15-16, 66, 80).
Neither JCS nor the Childersburg Municipal Court informed
probationers that they could only lawfully be jailed if they
willfully refused to pay even though they were able to pay.
(Doc. # 195-1 at 134; 708-2 at 76).
arrested, probationers who could not make payments were
jailed overnight, and some were detained for days or even
weeks until a payment was made on their behalf. (Doc. # Docs.
697-7 at 1; 697-1 at 1). JCS submitted payments to the
Municipal Courts each month, but it was JCS which determined
how the probationers’ payments were allocated between
court fines and JCS’s fees. (Doc. # 194-1 at 288). A
significant portion of the payments made to secure release of
probationers from jail was allocated by JCS for its fees, not
just for court fines. (Id.).
not inform the Municipal Courts the total amount collected
from probationers or how much the company kept for itself in
fees. (Id. at 69-70, 180-94). Cities typically did
not monitor or audit JCS’s activities and often did not
keep records as to who was assigned to JCS, let alone how
long each person had been on JCS probation.
(Id.; Doc. # 195-1 at 92-93). As a result
of these and other factors, individuals on probation
occasionally ended up paying more than the amount of their
original court debt. (Docs. # 194-1 at 69-70, 180-94).
Alabama law, a municipal court may not sentence a defendant
to a term of probation that exceeds two years. Ala. Code
§ 12-14-13(a). JCS frequently extended
probationers’ sentences beyond the two-year statutory
limit. (Docs. # 187-3, 183-4, 708-11 at 11-12). They did this
in a number of ways, including extending the sentence 24
months from the reinstatement date when marking a
person’s probation sentence as reinstated, even if the
person had served time toward those probation sentences;
extending sentences for existing charges by 24 months when
the municipal court issued probation orders in a different
case; placing probation sentences on hold and then starting
them long after the sentence date; and entering a longer
sentence in Probation Tracker than the sentence ordered by
the Municipal Court. (Doc. # 626 at 12-13, 63-64).
JCS’s Training Manual provided instructions to modify
the term of probation, and this included extension of the
probation. (Doc. # 708-3 at 44). JCS’s Training Manual
specifically addresses the subject of continuing to collect
fees from debtors after their probation terms ended.
Training Manual also has a section related to procedures that
“will be followed when a defendant has more than one
case.” (Doc. # 708-3 at 43). Those procedures specify
If a defendant has more than one case in the same court, the
second and subsequent cases are to be placed on hold. Once
the first case is paid in full, the second case is to be made
active the day the first case is paid in full. The probation
date on the admin. screen will be changed to the date the
first case is paid in full.  Once the second case is paid
in full, the above is to be followed for the third case, and
(Doc. # 708-3 at 43). However, the Manual’s Ethical
& Professional Behavior Do’s and Don’ts
section explicitly provides that a JCS employee must not
“[m]odify a court sentence without approval from that
court.” (Doc. # 708-3 at 81).
assert that JCS records show that over 20, 000 people in the
state of Alabama, including three of the four named
Plaintiffs, were kept on probation for longer than two years
for one probation sentence. (Docs. # 708-1 at ¶¶
38-39, 708-11 at 27, 33-450).
Probation of Plaintiffs Timothy and Kristy Fugatt
police issued Kristy Fugatt two traffic tickets in November
2010 for driving with an expired tag and an expired license.
(Doc. # 392-66 at 14-15). Kristy Fugatt renewed her license
(Doc. # 392-6 at 105), and the Municipal Court only assessed
court costs for each ticket, (Doc. # 392-66 at 14-15). When
Kristy Fugatt informed the Municipal Judge that she could not
pay the full amount charged, he directed her to an intake
area in order to “talk to JCS.” (Doc. # 392-6 at
105-07). Kristy Fugatt signed a form stating that she would
pay a certain amount. (Id. at 108-09). She was
placed on probation under JCS’s supervision.
(See Doc. # 392-18 at 9) (stating that Kristy Fugatt
had been sentenced to 24 months’ probation in January
Fugatt received a traffic ticket in December 2010 for driving
with an expired vehicle tag. (Doc. # 392-66 at 11). He was
not convicted of the traffic offense but was ordered to pay
court costs. (Id.). Timothy Fugatt testified that he
had attempted to inform the Municipal Judge about his
child’s terminal illness during the hearing, but he did
not get an opportunity to speak to the judge due to the rapid
pace of the proceedings. (Doc. # 392-7 at 74). Similar to his
wife, the Municipal Court also sentenced Timothy Fugatt to 24
months’ probation under JCS’s supervision. (Doc.
# 392-19 at 7).
early 2011, JCS scheduled weekly probation appointments for
both the Fugatts. (See Docs. # 537-24 at 7-8; 537-25
at 10-11). Timothy Fugatt told a JCS employee in January 2011
that his child was terminally ill and that he could not make
a payment to JCS until he had received a tax refund. (Doc. #
537-25 at 9). In April, May, and June 2011, the Fugatts did
not appear at 11 of the 12 probation appointments scheduled
by JCS. (See Docs. # 537-24 at 7-8; 537-25 at
10-11). The parties dispute whether JCS employees mailed
failure to report letters or delinquency letters to the
Fugatts. Timothy Fugatt testified that he did not remember
whether he received the letters. (Doc. # 537-19 at 108-09).
Probation Tracker records reveal that JCS employees sometimes
noted in Probation Tracker when they mailed some of the
letters to the Fugatts. (See Doc. # 537-24 at 6). At
other times, JCS employees placed a failure to report letter
in the Probation Tracker record without any notation or
indication that the letter had been mailed to the
probationer. (See id.)
prepared revocation petitions for Kristy and Timothy Fugatt
on June 28, 2011. (Docs. # 537-1 at 2; 537-2 at 2). Timothy
Fugatt’s revocation petition explained that he had
failed to report to JCS for 16 scheduled appointments and had
failed to pay $223 as ordered. (Doc. # 537-1 at 2). The
revocation petition explained that a payment of $223 would
close his case. (Id.). It warned him that a warrant
would be issued if he failed to appear at the Municipal Court
on August 11, 2011. (Id.). Kristy Fugatt’s
revocation petition averred that she had missed 17 scheduled
appointments and had failed to pay $371. (Doc. # 537-2 at 2).
It explained that a payment of $371 would close her case and
that a warrant would be issued if she failed to appear at the
probation revocation hearing scheduled for August 11.
(Id.). Timothy Fugatt testified that they likely
would not have received copies of the revocation petitions
because their house had been foreclosed upon. (Doc. # 537-19
Municipal Court held revocation hearings for Kristy and
Timothy Fugatt on August 11, 2011, but neither of them
appeared at the hearings. (Docs. # 537-24 at 5-6; 537-25 at
7). The Municipal Court issued arrest warrants for both in
August 2011. (Id.). Both warrants stated that the
Fugatts had been convicted of failure to obey a court order
(“FTOCO”). (Docs. # 537-33 at 2; 537-34 at 2).
Timothy Fugatt’s warrant required him to pay $540 as a
cash bond in order to be released. (Doc. # 537-33 at 2).
Kristy Fugatt’s warrant required her to pay a cash bond
of $688. (Doc. # 537-34 at 2).
Childersburg police officer arrested the Fugatts on February
26, 2012. (Docs. # 537-36 at 2-3, 537-38 at 2-3, 402-27 at 3,
402-28 at 3). They were taken to the police station and
placed in a holding cell. (Docs. # 402-27 at 3; 402-28 at 3).
They were released the same day after they had paid $900 for
a cash bond. (Id.).
2012, the Municipal Court reinstated the Fugatts’
probation sentences. (Docs. # 537-24 at 5, 537-25 at 7). On
April 26, 2012, the Municipal Court issued Timothy Fugatt a
new Probation Order regarding the FTOCO offense. (Doc. #
537-3 at 2). This probation sentence ended on April 26, 2014.
(Id.). Although the Municipal Court actually issued
a new probation order for a different offense, JCS’s
records state that the court reinstated Timothy
Fugatt’s probation for the expired tag offense
adjudicated in January 2011. (Doc. # 537-24 at 5). JCS also
recalculated the probation date for that offense - from
January 2011 to May 1, 2014. (Id.). Similarly, the
Municipal Court also reinitiated Kristy Fugatt’s
earlier probation sentence and added a $317 warrant fee.
(Doc. # 537-4 at 2). Moreover, the Municipal Court fined
Kristy Fugatt $168 for a speeding offense. (Id.).
The record does not indicate whether she received the
speeding ticket for which she was fined. JCS placed Kristy
Fugatt’s May 2012 probation sentence on hold. (Doc. #
537-41 at 2). In August 2012, JCS prepared revocation
petitions and draft notices to show cause against Kristy and
Timothy Fugatt. (See Docs. # 537-24 at 4; 537-25 at
5). Timothy Fugatt called JCS on August 28, 2012 and
confirmed that he had received the paperwork that was mailed
to him. (Doc. # 537-24 at 4). A JCS employee told him that he
could report to JCS on August 31 or September 7, but he did
not show up to JCS’s office on either of those dates.
Municipal Court cancelled revocation hearings concerning the
Fugatts on September 13, 2012. (Docs. # 537-24 at 4; 537-25
at 5). According to Kidd’s notes in Probation Tracker,
Timothy Fugatt called her and demanded a new court date
because he believed the revocation hearings were set for 1:30
P.M. (Doc. # 537-24 at 4). He spoke with a Municipal Court
employee before calling JCS, but the employee told him that
JCS was responsible for deciding whether to set a new court
date. (Id.). Kidd generated new revocation petitions
and notices to show cause and mailed them to the Fugatts on
September 19. (See Docs. # 537-24 at 4; 537-25 at
Fugatts appeared before the Municipal Court on October 11,
2012. (See Doc. # 537-24 at 4). They explained their
financial situation to Judge Ward, who commented from the
bench that they were “using [their] son as an excuse
not to pay for [their] fines.” (Doc. # 537-23 at 234).
They filled out a hardship form to explain their financial
situation, and JCS agreed to “waive the fees after [the
Fugatts] paid $200.” (Id. at 235). JCS also
agreed that the Fugatts could report to a probation officer
in Sylacauga, Alabama because they were being required
“to drive to Childersburg every four days even if
[they] couldn’t pay anything.” (Id. at
236). But, Timothy Fugatt called Kidd on October 31, 2012 and
informed her that he could not make the payment because he
had to pay approximately $1500 for other bills. (Doc. #
537-24 at 3). Kidd contacted a Municipal Court magistrate
about the issue, and the Municipal Court mailed subpoenas for
the Fugatts to appear on November 7. (Docs. # 537-24 at 3;
537-25 at 4-5). After they failed to appear in court at that
hearing, the Municipal Court issued warrants for the Fugatts.
(Docs. # 537-24 at 3; 537-25 at 4).
Fugatt appeared at the Municipal Court in December 2012 and
agreed to pay $100 towards the amounts his wife and he owed.
(Doc. # 537-24 at 3). He told the court that he would pay the
fines off with a tax refund. (Id.). The Municipal
Court then reinstated the Fugatts’ probation sentences
in January 2013. (Docs. # 537-24 at 3; 537-25 at 4). JCS
placed Kristy Fugatt’s probation sentence on
unsupervised status in January 2013, after JCS and the
Municipal Court had been informed of the present lawsuit.
(Doc. # 537-25 at 4). It placed Timothy Fugatt’s
probation sentence on hold in February 2013 after consulting
with a magistrate at the Municipal Court. (Doc. # 537-24 at
3). Ultimately, the Municipal Court terminated the
Fugatts’ probation sentences on November 1, 2014, which
was during the pendency of this action. (See Doc. #
537-25 at 4).
Probation of Plaintiff Deunate Jews
Jews was charged with harassment in 2008. (See Doc.
# 392-27 at 2). The Municipal Court dismissed the harassment
charge against Jews in January 2009, subject to two
conditions: that Jews (1) pay court costs to the Municipal
Court and (2) avoid contact with the complainant.
(Id.). During a deposition, Jews claimed that he had
contested the Municipal Court’s authority to impose
court costs against him when the criminal charge against him
had been dismissed. (Doc. # 524-5 at 50). Judge Ward
responded that he would “lock [Jews] up” unless
he signed a probation order. (Id. at 50-51). Jews
did not ask Judge Ward any more questions because he believed
that the judge would imprison him if he “said any
little thing.” (Id. at 51). Jews was unable to
pay the assessed court costs on the date of the hearing.
(Id. at 52).
signing a probation order, Jews advised a JCS employee that
he would not report to JCS’s probation office because
the Municipal Court had forced him to sign the probation
order. (Id. at 56). He informed the JCS employee
that he would not pay the imposed court costs because his
case had been dismissed. (Id. at 59). Moreover, he
provided JCS the address for his uncle’s residence,
rather than his own address. (Id. at 60). He
submitted this address to JCS because he did not plan to pay
what the Municipal Court had directed him to pay.
(Id. at 60-61). Consequently, Jews did not actually
receive a letter that JCS sent to him on January 27, 2009.
(Id. at 59-60).
Municipal Court held a revocation hearing in Jews’s
case on February 12, 2009, but Jews did not appear at the
hearing. (Doc. # 524-22 at 6). The Municipal
Court’s magistrate issued a capias warrant against Jews
on February 17, 2009 for failure to obey a court order. (Doc.
# 392-35 at 2). The warrant directed Jews to pay a bond of
$487 to be released. (Id.). Jews was arrested in
September 2009. (Doc. # 392-36 at 3). In October 2009, the
Municipal Court reinstated Jews’s probation sentence
and charged him a $317 warrant fee. (Doc. # 524-22 at 6). The
court’s probation order sentenced Jews to probation for
FTOCO. (Doc. # 524-6 at 2). Jews was released from the
Talladega County Jail on October 22, 2009. (Doc. # 382-11 at
petitioned the Municipal Court to revoke Jews’s
probation again in December 2009. (Doc. # 524-22 at 5). The
Municipal Court held a revocation hearing in January 2010,
and Jews did not appear at the hearing. (Id.). A
magistrate issued another capias warrant against Jews based
on a conviction for FTOCO. (Doc. # 392-45 at 2). This arrest
warrant increased his bond amount to $935. (Id.).
City police arrested Jews on August 18, 2010. (Doc. # 392-46
at 2). On September 9, 2010, the Municipal Court fined Jews
$317 for the failure-to-obey offense and reinstated his
probation. (Doc. # 392-38 at 2). A City employee, Misty Hepp,
authorized Jews’s release from the Talladega County
Jail on September 9. (Doc. # 382-11 at 67).
November 2010, JCS filed another revocation petition against
Jews. (Doc. # 524-22 at 5). Jews did not appear at the
Municipal Court’s December 2010 revocation hearing in
his case. (Id.). The Municipal Court issued another
capias warrant against Jews based on his conviction for
FTOCO, and he was thereafter arrested on January 10, 2011.
(Doc. # 392-50 at 2-3). Hepp again authorized Jews’s
release from jail on January 14, 2011, after a $500 bond had
been paid on his behalf. (Doc. # 392-51 at 2). The Municipal
Court reinstated Jews’s probation sentence in March
2011 and charged him a $317 warrant fee. (Doc. # 524-22 at
2011, JCS again petitioned the Municipal Court to revoke
Jews’s probation. (Doc. # 392-54 at 2). The revocation
petition asserted that Jews owed $773 to close his case.
(Id.). A JCS employee and Judge Ward signed the
petition, but the City’s prosecutor did not sign it.
(Id.). Yet again, Jews did not appear at a
revocation hearing in June 2011. (Doc. # 524-22 at 4). On
June 10, 2011, the Municipal Court’s magistrate issued
another warrant against Jews based on a conviction for FTOCO.
(Doc. # 392-56 at 2). This warrant required Jews to pay $1,
090 in bail to be released. (Id.). A City police
officer arrested Jews in February 2012 after detaining him to
check for outstanding warrants. (Doc. # 392-57 at 2-3). Jews
fled from the officer and was detained for resisting arrest
and FTOCO. (Id.).
to Jews’s Probation Tracker records, during a March
2012 hearing, the Municipal Court reinstated Jews’s
probation. (Doc. # 524-22 at 4). The court issued another
probation order for the resisting arrest charge and FTOCO
charge. (Doc. # 392-58 at 2). This order recounted fines of
$717 for resisting arrest and $1, 090 for FTOCO.
(Id.). And, it placed Jews on probation until March
8, 2014. (Id.). The City’s police department
released Jews from jail on March 8, 2012. (Doc. # 382-12 at
13). In May 2012, JCS recalculated Jews’s probation
expiration date for the 2009 probation order stemming from
the harassment charges. (Doc. # 524-22 at 4). It stated that
his probation on that charge actually was due to end on March
9, 2014. (Id.).
2012, JCS requested that the Municipal Court revoke
Jews’s probation. (Doc. # 524-22 at 3). The revocation
petition was not signed by a JCS employee, and the order
scheduling a hearing was not signed by the Municipal
Court’s judge. (Doc. # 392-59 at 2). The Municipal
Court held a revocation hearing in August 2012; again, Jews
did not attend that hearing. (Doc. # 524-22 at 3). According
to JCS’s probation records, the probation sentence
entered warrant status on August 10, 2012. (Id. at
2). The Municipal Court ultimately terminated Jews’s
probation sentence in December 2014, which was during the
pendency of this action. (Doc. # 382 at 114).
2015, Jews was sentenced to four years in prison for making a
terroristic threat, after having been convicted of another
felony in 2014. (Doc. # 431-19).
Probation of Plaintiff Gina Kay Ray
2010, a City officer ticketed Ray for driving with a
suspended license and without proof of insurance. (Doc. #
423-4 at 2). Ray pled guilty to both charges during a
Municipal Court hearing on August 12, 2010. (Id. at
3). Ray testified that a public defender attended the
hearing, but she (Ray) did not believe that an attorney would
assist her with a traffic ticket. (Doc. # 471-7 at 38-39).
Ray does not believe that Judge Ward identified the public
defender during the hearing. (Id. at 39). Judge Ward
imposed a three-day suspended imprisonment term for each
conviction, along with a 24-month probationary sentence.
(Doc. # 423-4 at 3). Ray could not recall whether Judge Ward
mentioned the suspended imprisonment term during the hearing.
(Doc. # 471-7 at 43-44). Judge Ward fined Ray $400 for each
traffic offense, imposed $198 in court costs for the
suspended license offense, and imposed $148 in court costs
for the no insurance offense. (Doc. # 423-4 at 3).
to JCS’s probation records, JCS prepared a revocation
petition against Ray on September 20, 2010. (Doc. # 423-11 at
8). The revocation petition contained in the record was not
signed by the probation officer or the Municipal
Court’s judge. (See Doc. # 423-8 at 2). The
Municipal Court held a revocation hearing on October 14,
2010, which Ray attended. (Doc. # 423-11 at 8). JCS issued
another revocation petition on December 30, 2010, based on
Ray’s failure to attend probation sessions, pay
assessed court fines and fees, and pay probation fees. (Doc.
# 423-14 at 2). The Municipal Court held a revocation hearing
for Ray on January 13, 2011, but she failed to appear. (Doc.
# 423-11 at 7). Consequently, on January 18, 2011, the
Municipal Court’s magistrate issued a capias warrant
premised upon a FTOCO conviction. (Doc. # 423-15 at 2). The
warrant provided for a bond of $1, 353. (Id.).
arrested on January 19, 2011. (See Doc. # 455-5).
She remained in the Talladega County Jail until February 10,
2011. (See id.). The Municipal Court reinstated
Ray’s probation on February 10, 2011, and imposed a
$317 warrant fee. (Doc. # 423-17 at 2). In June 2011, a City
officer ticketed Ray for driving with an expired tag and a
revoked license. (Doc. # 423-31 at 2). Ray pled guilty to
both offenses in July 2011. (Id. at 3). The
Municipal Court imposed 5-day suspended imprisonment
sentences, 24 months of probation, fines totaling $500, and
court costs totaling $346 for the two convictions.
(Id.). In August 2011, Ray was again charged with
driving with a revoked license and an expired tag. (Doc. #
423-28 at 2). As with her earlier tickets, the Municipal
Court imposed a 5-day suspended imprisonment sentence for the
expired-tag offense, 24 months of probation for the
expired-tag offense, fines totaling $500, and court costs
totaling $346. (Id. at 3).
January 4, 2012, a JCS employee found that Ray had violated
her probation because she owed the City $1, 008 in fines and
costs and JCS $433 in fees. (Doc. # 423-11 at 4). The
Municipal Court held a revocation hearing on February 9,
2012. (Id.). Ray did not attend. (Id.).
Thus, the Municipal Court’s magistrate issued a capias
warrant against Ray for FTOCO. (Doc. # 423-23 at 2). The
warrant provided a bail amount of $3, 173. (Id.). On
April 21, 2012, City police officers detained Ray because
they suspected that she had an active warrant. (Doc. # 423-24
at 2-3). She fled from the officers in her car until she was
blocked in by traffic. (Id. at 3). The officers
issued her tickets for driving with an expired tag, driving
with a revoked license, and attempted escape. (Doc. # 423-27
at 2, 4).
held in jail from April 21, 2012 to May 1, 2012 on the charge
of FTOCO. (Doc. # 455-7). On April 26, 2012, the Municipal
Court reinstated Ray’s probation and imposed a $317
warrant fee. (Doc. # 423-25 at 2). The court’s
probation order stated that Ray owed $3, 173 in costs.
(Id.). The court ruled that Ray could not be
released from jail until $300 had been paid on her behalf.
(Id.). Ray was released from jail on May 1, 2012
after someone paid the $300. (Doc. # 471-7 at 149).
2012, Ray pled guilty to driving with an expired tag, driving
with a revoked license, and attempting to escape. (Doc. #
423-27 at 3, 5). The Municipal Court sentenced Ray to a 5-day
suspended incarceration sentence, along with 24 months’
probation, for each conviction. (Id.). It fined her
$400 for driving with a revoked license, $400 for attempting
to flee, and $100 for driving with an expired tag.
(Id.). It also imposed a total of $444.00 in court
costs against Ray. (Id.).
again requested that the Municipal Court revoke Ray’s
probation in August 2012 due to the outstanding fines and
fees she owed to JCS and the City. (Doc. # 423-11 at 3). The
Municipal Court held a revocation hearing in September 2012
and issued a warrant against Ray after she had failed to
appear at the hearing. (Id.). Ray’s probation
sentence was terminated by court order on November 1, 2014.
(Doc. # 422 at 11).
The Different Municipal Courts at Issue in this
provided services to a number of different municipal courts,
and its managers worked in multiple municipal courts. (Docs.
# 431-1 at ¶ 22, 431-2 at ¶ 28 431-3, 431-4 at
¶ 12, 30). The procedures and preferences of those
courts varied. For instance, some courts accepted payments
directly. Others did not. (Docs. # 431-1 at ¶ 50, 431-4
at ¶ 21). Courts also covered different topics at their
hearings. (Doc. # 431-1 at ¶ 46). At the initial
appearance, Judge Hutchinson of Geraldine, Alabama required
probationers to return to the courtroom after filling out
probation paperwork to ensure they understood the
requirements of probation. (Doc. # 431-4 at ¶ 12). Other
courts were not as helpful or compliant. Of course, a
court’s procedures and preferences necessarily overrode
any provisions of the JCS Training Manual. (Id.).
cannot reliably be determined from Probation Tracker. (Doc. #
431-1 at ¶ 61, 431-2 at ¶ 33, 431-4 at ¶ 40).
At some revocation hearings, some courts covered the reasons
for non-payment. (Doc. # 431-4 at ¶ 12). April Mims
provided declaration testimony that, the Albertville, Alabama
Municipal Court performed indigency evaluations and utilized
a community service program for probationers unable to pay
fines. (Docs. # 431-3, 431-1 at ¶ 66). Between 2009 and
2015, many probationers in Albertville performed community
service instead of paying fines. (Id.). There is
evidence that other courts did not properly consider
indigency. (Docs. # 708-13 – 708-16).
Tracker was designed as a tool for JCS, but it does not
contain all of the information pertinent to an
individual’s probation. (Docs. # 431-2 at ¶ 20,
431-4 at ¶ 29). Several cities did not use the Probation
Tracker “Jail” status code. (Doc. # 431-1 at
¶ 22). In fact, JCS was not normally notified if a
probationer was jailed. (Docs. # 431-1 at ¶ 22, 431-2 at
¶ 16). If JCS was notified, it was sporadic and when it
occurred it was often communicated by family members;
therefore, incarcerations could not be accurately tracked in
that system. (Docs. # 431-1 at ¶¶ 22, 57, 431-2 at
¶¶ 16, 23, 431-4 at ¶¶ 25, 31). When the
code was used, it was most often the case that a probationer
was jailed on an offense unrelated to his or her probation
with JCS. (Docs. # 431-2 at ¶ 16, 431-4 at ¶ 25).
When a probationer was jailed for non-compliance, some courts
gave probationers credit of $15-30 per day against fines for
jail time served. (Doc. # 431-4 at ¶¶ 14, 53).
Other courts did not give any financial credit.
(Id.). Nor was JCS reliably informed when warrants
were issued. (Docs. # 431-1 at ¶ 34, 431-4 at ¶
Municipal Courts also took different approaches to setting
hearings. For example, in Childersburg, Alabama, a
probationer only came before the judge if his or her
individual circumstances warranted court review. By contrast,
in Columbiana, the Columbiana Municipal Court immediately
scheduled a compliance hearing for each probationer to occur