Litigation Toolkit: Sample Materials

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Memoranda

Litigation Strategy Memorandum:  Memorandum detailing general strategies for challenging fines and fees in the juvenile justice system

Alabama Legal Landscape Memorandum: DLA Piper memorandum on existing Alabama litigation relevant to fees, fines, and restitution in the juvenile justice system.

Georgia Legal Landscape Memorandum: DLA Piper memorandum on existing Georgia litigation relevant to fees, fines, and restitution in the juvenile justice system.

Michigan Legal Landscape Memorandum: DLA Piper memorandum on existing Michigan litigation relevant to fees, fines, and restitution in the juvenile justice system.

New Jersey Legal Landscape Memorandum: DLA Piper memorandum on existing New Jersey litigation relevant to fees, fines, and restitution in the juvenile justice system.

Pennsylvania Legal Landscape Memorandum: DLA Piper memorandum on existing Pennsylvania litigation relevant to fees, fines, and restitution in the juvenile justice system.

South Carolina Legal Landscape Memorandum: DLA Piper memorandum on existing South Carolina litigation relevant to fees, fines, and restitution in the juvenile justice system.

Tennessee Legal Landscape Memorandum: DLA Piper memorandum on existing Tennessee litigation relevant to fees, fines, and restitution in the juvenile justice system.

Wisconsin Legal Landscape Memorandum: DLA Piper memorandum on existing Wisconsin litigation relevant to fees, fines, and restitution in the juvenile justice system.

Sample Motions and Pleadings

Youth-Specific Motions and Pleadings

Amicus Brief in Support of Finding that Excessive Fines Clause Applies against the States: Amicus brief filed on behalf of 41 youth advocacy organizations in Timbs v. Indiana, No. 17-1091 (U.S. pet. filed Jan. 31, 2018), educating the Court on the harmful effects that juvenile justice fines have on youth and their families and urging the Court to hold that their imposition demands proportionality review.

Motion to Waive Costs: Sample motion to waive costs by the Drake Juvenile Delinquency Clinic.  Sample motion argues for waiver due to child's inability to pay under Iowa law, though arguments are easily adapted to other jurisdictions.

Motion to Cancel Uncollectible Debt:  Sample motion drafted by the Office of the Ohio Public Defender seeking to cancel uncollected court debt pursuant to Section 2151.42 of the Ohio Code.  Sample motion includes fillable statement of facts, statutory argument, jurisdictional argument, and argument relating to the rehabilitative goals of the juvenile justice system.

Motion to Terminate License Forfeiture:  Sample motion drafted by the Office of the Ohio Public Defender seeking to terminate license forfeiture.  Sample motion includes fillable procedural history and argument that court lacks authority to suspend youth’s driver license.

General Motions and Pleadings

Complaint in Cleveland v. City of Montgomery, No. 13-cv-00732 (M.D. Ala. filed Nov. 12, 2013) and Complaint in Watts v. City of Montgomery, No. 13-cv-00733 (M.D. Ala. filed Nov. 12, 2013): Harriet Cleveland and Marks Watts were each arrested and sentenced to 31 and 54 days in jail, respectively, after they were unable to pay off outstanding traffic tickets and other fines assessed by the Montgomery Municipal Court.  Represented by SPLC, each filed a complaint against the City of Montgomery and the judges that sentenced them seeking declaratory relief and alleging violation of their due process and equal protection rights and right to counsel guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution.

SPLC settled the cases with the City of Montgomery, which agreed to implement procedural protections to ensure improved ability to pay determinations. Joint Settlement of Watts and Cleveland (2014).

Complaint in Jenkins v. Jennings, No. 15-CV-00252 (E.D. Mo. filed Feb. 8, 2015): The plaintiffs in this case were each imprisoned for their inability to pay a petty debt to the city. None of the plaintiffs was afforded legal counsel or an inquiry into their inability to pay, despite pleading indigence, and all were held in inhumane, unsafe conditions in the jail. Represented by attorneys from Equal Justice Under Law, the ArchCity Defenders, and the St. Louis University School of Law plaintiffs filed this suit on behalf of a class of around 2,000 mostly black, impoverished residents of Jennings, Missouri.  Plaintiffs alleged that the City of Jennings violated their constitutional rights under the First, Fourth, Sixth, Eighth, Thirteenth, and Fourteenth Amendments.

Plaintiffs successfully obtained a permanent injunction against the City of Jennings, laying out lawful policies for the city to assess the ability of indigent individuals to pay fees, to collect debts through the civil system, and to meet legal standards of care in the jail.

Brief in Support of Complaint for Superintending Control, filed in In re Anderson, Case Nos. 14EA04628A-OM, 14EA04628B-OM (Mich. Cir. Ct. filed July 9, 2005): The plaintiff pleaded guilty in the 38th District Court of Michigan for failing to license her dogs and failing to appear in court on the dog license tickets. However, she was indigent and unable to pay the $455 in fines, fees, and costs assessed, and the judge who would be sentencing her engaged in a well-documented practice of imposing “pay or stay” sentences on indigent defendants.  Prior to her sentencing, Plaintiff filed a complaint in the Circuit Court for the County of Macomb, alleging that she was at imminent risk of incarceration due to poverty.  Plaintiff asked the Circuit Court to exercise superintending control over the 38th District Court and order the District Court not to jail any defendant pursuant to a pay or stay sentence or any similar order.

Motion to Dismiss State's Motion to Set Restitution for Lack of Jurisdiction and Brief in Support: This motion and brief, drafted by Gar Blume of Blume & Blume Attorneys at Law, P.C., argues that the court lacked jurisdiction to set a previously-indeterminate amount of restitution after it revoked defendant's probation. This motion was filed in a criminal case, but the same case law and rules apply in juvenile proceedings in Alabama. The arguments may also apply in other jurisdictions where restitution is characterized as part of the sentence or disposition.