The federal lawsuit was against a magistrate judge who set bail automatically at $2500, did not accept cash bail and accepted only bonds with a private surety, in full understanding that 1.8% of bail money goes into the court fund, for the judge's discretionary use.
CALISTE v. Cantrell, Dist. Court, ED Louisiana 2018 - Google Scholar
ADRIAN CALISTE ET AL,
HARRY E. CANTRELL, SECTION "L" (5).
ORDER & REASONS
II. PRESENT MOTIONS
A. Plaintiffs' Motion for Summary Judgment (R. Doc. 116)
B. Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment (R. Doc. 121)
III. LAW AND ANALYSIS
A. Summary Judgment Standard
• There will be no minimum monetary bail amount utilized when assessing and setting bail.
• The seriousness of the offense charged, including but not limited to whether the offense is a serious crime of violence or involves a controlled dangerous substance.
• The weight of the evidence against the defendant.
• The previous criminal record of the defendant.
• The ability of the defendant to give bail.
• The nature and seriousness of the danger to any other person or the community that would be posed by the defendant's release.
• The defendant's voluntary participation in a pretrial drug testing program.
• The absence or presence in the defendant of any controlled dangerous substance.
• Whether the defendant is currently out on a bail undertaking on a previous felony arrest for which he is awaiting institution of prosecution, arraignment, trial, or sentencing.
• Any other circumstances affecting the probability of defendant's appearance.
• The type or form of bail.
• Amount and source of defendant's income.
• Defendant's employment status.
• Number and type of defendants.
• Recommendations of pre-trial services report.
• Should a defendant be unable to afford the amount set, they will be entitled to an adversarial hearing, wherein they have the right to be represented by counsel and to present any evidence and/or testimony and traverse (or deny) any evidence and/or testimony presented against them concerning the previously stated factors in determining the amount of bail.
A writ of mandamus compels the defendant to perform a certain act. See Mandamus, Black's Law Dictionary (10th ed. 2014). By contrast, the declaratory judgments plaintiffs seek . . . would merely state that certain of defendant['s] practices are unconstitutional. The Supreme Court has recognized the authority of federal courts to issue such relief against state judges. See Pulliam, 466 U.S. at 526 (affirming attorneys' fees award in case where district court declared magistrate's practice of "require[ing] bond for nonincarcerable offenses . . . to be a violation of due process and equal protection and enjoined it"). Thus, the Court rejects defendant['s] argument that plaintiffs' claims for declaratory relief are in fact requests for a writ of mandamus.
iii. Declaratory Judgment Act
iv. Brillhart-Wilton Abstention
1) Whether there is a pending state action in which all of the matters in controversy may be fully litigated, 2) whether the plaintiff filed suit in anticipation of a lawsuit filed by the defendant, 3) whether the plaintiff engaged in forum shopping in bringing the suit, 4) whether possible inequities in allowing the declaratory plaintiff to gain precedence in time or to change forums exist, 5) whether the federal court is a convenient forum for the parties and witnesses, . . . 6) whether retaining the lawsuit in federal court would serve the purposes of judicial economy, and [7)] whether the federal court is being called on to construe a state judicial decree. . . .
C. Count One: Judge Cantrell's Bail Procedures
• Introduction and overview of bail setting process.
• Qualification of defendants for public defender services, including questions regarding employment, income, and dependents.
• Time for defendants to meet with their attorneys.
• Judge Cantrell uses the background information provided by the public defender to determine the conditions of release or detention; "he does not ask additional questions."
• Judge "Cantrell has told public defenders that he would hold them in contempt when they have attempted to argue for lower bond amounts or RORs for their clients."
• Judge "Cantrell does not determine whether the financial condition of release that he imposes will result in pretrial detention."
Although "[d]ue process and equal protection principles converge" in cases involving the criminal justice system's treatment of indigent individuals, Bearden v. Georgia, 461 U.S. 660, 665 (1983), plaintiffs' argument sounds in procedural due process. Thus, the familiar framework set out in Mathews v. Eldridge, 424 U.S. 319 (1976), applies. See Turner v. Rogers, 564 U.S. 431, 444-45 (2011) (applying Mathews v. Eldridge to civil contempt proceedings).
First, the private interest that will be affected by the official action; second, the risk of an erroneous deprivation of such interest through the procedures used, and the probable value, if any, of additional or substitute procedural safeguards; and finally, the Government's interest, including the function involved and the fiscal and administrative burdens that the additional or substitute procedural requirement would entail.
First, plaintiffs' interest in securing their "freedom `from bodily restraint[ ]' lies `at the core of the liberty protected by the Due Process Clause.'" Turner, 564 U.S. at 445 (quoting Foucha v. Louisiana, 504 U.S. 71, 80 (1992)). Plaintiffs' liberty interest weighs heavily in favor of procedural safeguards provided before imprisonment.
[T]he consequences to the defendant from an erroneous pretrial detention are certain and grave. The potential harm to society, although also significant, is speculative, because pretrial detention is based on the possibility, rather than the certainty, that a particular defendant will fail to appear. Moreover, society's interest in increasing the probability of detention is undercut by the fact that it has no interest in erroneously detaining a defendant who can give reasonable assurances that he will appear. I conclude therefore that the injury to the individual from an erroneous decision is greater than the potential harm to society, and that under Addington due process requires that society bear a greater portion of the risk of error: the government must prove the facts supporting a finding of flight risk by clear and convincing evidence.
1) an inquiry into the arrestee's ability to pay, including notice of the importance of this issue and the ability to be heard on this issue;
2) consideration of alternative conditions of release, including findings on the record applying the clear and convincing standard and explaining why an arrestee does not qualify for alternative conditions of release; and
3) representative counsel.
D. Count Two: Conflict of Interest
i. The Judicial Expense Fund
ii. Legal Standards
was not . . . the probity of an individual judge or perhaps even, of the great majority of judges . . . rather [it was] in the inherent defect in the legislative framework arising from the vulnerability of the average man-as the system works in practice and as it appears to defendants and to the public.
[Defendant Cantrell's] dual role, as [an] adjudicator who determine[s] ability to pay [and amount of bail] and as manager of the OPCDC budget, offer[s] a possible temptation to find that indigent criminal defendants are able to pay [bail and higher amounts of bail]. This "inherent defect in the legislative framework" arises not from the bias of any particular Judge, but "from the vulnerability of the average man—as the system works in practice and as it appears to defendants and to the public."
There is no language in Tumey or Ward qualifying the "possible temptation" standard by the necessity of overcoming the presumption of probity in favor of adjudicators. That added burden comes from Withrow v. Larkin, 421 U.S. 35, upon which the district court and the defendant strongly relied. But the question in Withrow was whether a board of physicians could exercise both investigative and adjudicative functions.