June 6, 2016
Looks like debtor’s prison still exist:
Recently a Louisiana federal judge denied a motion to dismiss a class action lawsuit of unfairly jailing defendants who are unable to pay court costs.
There were arguments that the Federal Court is interfering with state Court’s right to issue orders and judgments free from federal judicial interference. However, the Court ruled that they did not contest the validity of state court convictions or judgments, only how they were enforced.
The lawsuit accused the city of New Orleans and its 13 judges of running a “debtor’s prison” to help fund court costs. Strapped local governments are charging fees to criminal defendants to defray court costs.
The lawsuit said New Orleans officials routinely use jail and the threat of jail to collect court debts, sometimes using illegal warrants and filings to consider an individual’s ability to pay.
Under Louisiana law, every person guilty of a misdemeanor or felony has to pay part of the expenses of the use of the criminal court system, the lawyers claim.
These costs are assessed on defendants at sentencing; those unable to pay immediately are put on a payment schedule. If you fail to pay, defendants are arrested and must pay a $20,000 bond and their entire court debt before they are released, the lawsuit states.
State courts feel this is a matter for State Courts to resolve rather than the Federal Court.
I am quite sure there will be many motions going up and back before this case is resolved.
Defendants are looking for a Get Out of Jail Free Card……..