Cooper v. The City of Dothan (JOINT ASSIGN)
ORDER GRANTING plf's 2 MOTION for Temporary Restraining Order insofar as the City is ORDERED to release plf Anthony Cooper immediately either on his own recognizance or subject to an unsecured bond or other reasonable and lawful non-financia l conditions; (2) plf's 2 MOTION for Temporary Restraining Order is DENIED in all other respects; (3) a hearing to determine whether to convert this temporary restraining order into a preliminary injunction is set for Evidentiary Hearing on 6/ 26/2015 @ 10:00 AM before Chief Judge William Keith Watkins, at the Federal Bldg & US Courthouse, 100 West Troy Street, Dothan, AL; (4) By 12:00 p.m., Monday, 6/22/2015, Def is DIRECTED to respond to the motion for a preliminary injunction; (5) By 12:00 p.m., Thursday, 6/25/2015, Plf may file a reply to Def's response; (6) Plf is DIRECTED to serve Def with a copy of this Order, and the Clerk of the Court is DIRECTED to fax to Def a copy of this Order. Signed by Chief Judge William Keith Watkins on 6/18/15 @ 10:00 a.m. (Attachments: # 1 civil appeals checklist). FAXED, to Dothan City Attorney, as directed.(djy, )
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE MIDDLE DISTRICT OF ALABAMA
individually and on behalf of a
class of similarly situated people,
CASE NO, 1:1 5-CV-425-WKW
THE CITY OF DOTHAN,
Plaintiff Anthony Cooper has filed suit against the City of Dothan, Alabama
("the City"), on behalf of himself and similarly situated individuals, alleging that the
City's arrest and detention policies and practices routinely result in the confinement
of Individuals solely due to their poverty in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment's
Due Process and Equal Protection clauses. Specifically, he argues that the City's
post-arrest detention scheme featuring preset and undifferentiated bond amounts
forces indigent individuals arrested on misdemeanor offenses to remain behind bars
for as long as a week, while allowing those who can afford the scheduled bond to
walk free. Before the court are the named Plaintiff's motion for temporary
restraining order or, in the alternative, motion for preliminary injunction (Doe. # 2)
and supplemental motion for temporary restraining order (Dock # 6).
"A temporary restraining order protects against irreparable harm and
preserves the status quo until a meaningful decision on the merits can be made,"
Schiavo ex rd. Schindler v. Schiavo, 403 F.3d 1289, 1297 (11th Cir, 2005). A
temporary restraining order may be issued without notice only if
(A) specific facts in an affidavit or a verified complaint clearly show
that immediate and irreparable injury, loss, or damage will result to
the movant before the adverse party can be heard in opposition; and
(B) the movant's attorney certifies in writing any efforts made to give
notice and the reasons why it should not be required.
Fed. R. Civ. P. 65(b)(1)(A)—(B). Additionally, the elements that apply to a motion
for preliminary injunction also govern the issuance of a temporary restraining order.
See Parker v. State Bd. of Pardons & Paroles, 275 F.3d 1032, 1034-35 (11th Cir.
2001). These four elements are "(1) a substantial likelihood of success on the merits,
(2) a threat of irreparable injury, (3) that (the movant'sl own injury would outweigh
the injury to the nonmovant, and (4) that the injunction would not disserve the public
interest." Tefel v, Rena, 180 F.3d 1286, 1295 (11th Cir, 1999). The movant bears
the burden of establishing entitlement to a temporary restraining order. See Parker,
275 F.3d at 1034.
After careful consideration of the record, the court finds that the motion for a
temporary restraining order is due to be granted in part and denied in part. The
procedural requirements of Rule 65(b) for issuing a temporary restraining order
without notice to Defendant are satisfied. An affidavit from Mr. Cooper has been
filed evidencing immediate and irreparable injury, as discussed below. Moreover,
counsel for Mr. Cooper has certified his efforts to notify the City and has provided
sufficient reasons why notice should not be required.
Mr. Cooper also has demonstrated the four elements required for temporary
injunctive relief. First, he has highlighted long standing case law from the Fifth
Circuit Court of Appeals, as well as from the Supreme Court of Alabama, that
establishes the unconstitutionality of a pretrial detention scheme whereby indigent
detainees are confined for periods of time solely due to their inability to tender
monetary amounts in accordance with a master bond schedule, while those able to
afford the preset bond may quickly purchase their release. See Pugh v. Rainwater,
572 P.2d 1053, 1057 (5th Cir, 1978) ("Utilization of a master bond schedule provides
speedy and convenient release for those who have no difficulty meeting its
requirements. The incarceration of those who cannot, without meaningful
consideration of other possible alternatives, infringes on both due process and equal
protection requirements.")'; State v. Blake, 642 So, 2d 959, 968 (Ala. 1994)
(recognizing the unconstitutionality and irrationality of a bail scheme that allows "a
defendant with financial means who is charged with a noncapital violent felony, and
In Bonner v, City of .Prichard, the Eleventh Circuit adopted as binding precedent all
decisions of the former Fifth Circuit issued prior to October 1, 1981. See 661 F.2d 1206, 1209
(11th Cir. 1981) (en bane).
who may potentially pose a great threat to community safety," to "obtain immediate
release simply by posting bail," while forcing an "indigent defendant charged with
a relatively minor misdemeanor" to "remain incarcerated for a minimum of three
days, and perhaps longer, before being able to obtain judicial public bail").
Furthermore, Mr. Cooper has brought to the court's attention a recent consent
judgment from the Eastern District of Missouri in which a post-arrest detention
scheme centered upon a secured bail system that failed to account for indigency was
declared unconstitutional. Pierce v. City of Velda City, No. 4:15-cv-570HEA (RD.
Mo. June 3, 201 5). The similarity between the post-arrest practices of the City of
Velda City, Missouri, and the City of Dothan, coupled with the constitutional
principles espoused in Pugh and Blake, provide sufficient grounds to find that Mr.
Cooper has a substantial likelihood of success on the merits of his challenge.'
Second, if a temporary restraining order is not entered, Mr. Cooper will
remain confined at the City jail pending his initial appearance as a result of his
inability to pay the schedule bond amount. Mr. Cooper has sufficiently
demonstrated that this threat of injury is immediate and irreparable. Third, the
alleged injury to Mr. Cooper would outweigh any injury to the City, and, as
As the Fifth Circuit explained in Pugh, "We have no doubt that in the case of an indigent
whose appearance at trial could reasonably be assured by one of the alternate forms of release,
pretrial confinement for inability to post money bail would constitute imposition of an excessive
r$trairjt," 572 F. 2d at 1058.
demonstrated by Mr. Cooper, the City has constitutional alternatives to confining
Mr. Cooper in response to his inability to pay the preset bond, while accounting for
his future court appearance. Fourth, the public interest will not be disserved by Mr.
Cooper's release from confinement.
Generally, security is required when a temporary restraining order issues. See
Fed. R. Civ. P. 65(e). This is not the typical case, however, in that the present action
is grounded upon Mr. Cooper's lack of financial resources. In light of Mr. Cooper's
indigency, the ability of the City to secure Mr. Cooper's future appearance through
alternative measures, and the court's determination that no costs or damages will be
incurred by the City during the pendency of the temporary restraining order, no
security bond will be required.
Accordingly, it is ORDERED that:
The motion for temporary restraining order (Doe. # 2)is GRANTED
insofar as the City is ORDERED to release Plaintiff Anthony Cooper immediately
either on his own recognizance or subject to an unsecured bond or other reasonable
and lawful non-financial conditions.
Plaintiff's motion for temporary restraining order (Doe. # 2) is
DENTED in all other respects.
A hearing to determine whether to convert this temporary restraining
order into a preliminary injunction is set for an evidentiary hearing on June 26, 2015
at 10:00 a.m., at the Federal Building & U.S. Courthouse, 100 West Troy Street,
By 12:00 p.m., Monday, June 22, 2015, Defendant is DIRECTED to
respond to the motion for a preliminary injunction (Doc, # 2).
By 12:00 p.m., Thursday, June 257 2015, Plaintiff may file a reply to
Plaintiff is DIRECTED to serve Defendant with a copy of this Order,
and the Clerk of the Court is DIRECTED to fax to Defendant a copy of this Order.
DONE this 18th day of June, 2015, atØt.m.
CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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