United States District Court, W.D. Louisiana, Shreveport Division
JAMES M. WHEAT, ET AL.
JUDGE MIKE CRAIG, ET AL.
HORNSBY MAGISTRATE JUDGE
MAURICE HICKS, JR. UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
the Court is Plaintiffs James M. Wheat (“Wheat”)
and Danny Brinson's (“Brinson”) (collectively
“Plaintiffs”) Motion for Temporary Restraining
Order (“TRO”) and Preliminary Injunction, on
behalf of themselves and other putative class members,
against Defendant Sheriff Julian C. Whittington
(“Whittington”). See Record Document 5.
Because the Court finds that the showing made is insufficient
to warrant granting this extraordinary remedy, the Motion for
TRO is DENIED. The Motion for Preliminary Injunction remains
pending before the Court.
ALLEGATIONS AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
March 6, 2017, officers of the Bossier City Police Department
arrested Plaintiffs for panhandling in violation of La. R.S.
§ 14:97.1. See Record Document 5-1 at 4. After
being detained at the Bossier City jail for one night,
authorities transferred Plaintiffs to the Bossier Parish
Sheriff's Maximum Security Detention Center
(“Bossier Max”). See Id. Once there,
deputies informed Plaintiffs that they were being held on $1,
000 bail. See Id. at 5. This bail amount is in
accordance with the bail schedule for Bossier Parish, which
sets bail at $1, 000.00 for all misdemeanors for which more
specific bail amounts are not set. See Record
Document 5-4 (the bail schedule). Plaintiffs were unable to
pay the bond. See Record Document 5-1 at 5. Bail
bondsmen refused to provide Brinson with bail because he is
not a resident of Louisiana. See id. Though Wheat is
a resident of Louisiana, he was unable to pay the 12% fee
that bail bondsmen are allowed to charge under Louisiana law
before acting as sureties for pretrial detainees. See
id. Thus, neither was able to pay the $1, 000.00 bail,
and Plaintiffs remained incarcerated. See id.
March 8, 2017, Plaintiffs appeared in hearings before a judge
of the 26th Judicial District Court (“26th JDC”).
See id. Plaintiffs allege that Sheriff's
deputies instructed them that they were only allowed to
answer three questions from the judge: whether each of them
(1) knew the charge against him; (2) had an attorney; and (3)
would like to have one appointed if he did not have one.
See id. Plaintiffs' affidavits state that the
hearings lasted less than two minutes and did not include a
discussion of bail. See Record Documents 5-2 and
5-3. Brinson chose to request appointment of counsel, while
Wheat did not. See id.
26th JDC also has a standing order regarding the payment of
Louisiana's $40.00 application fee for the appointment of
the public defender to represent a criminal defendant.
See Record Document 5-5. This order states that
“the Bossier Parish Sheriff and Webster Parish Sheriff,
prior to releasing on bond any defendant who has been
appointed the Public Defender for representation, shall
collect the $40.00 application fee . . . due to the Public
Defender's Office.” Id. Wheat's
affidavit states that he cannot afford to pay this fee.
See Record Document 5-3. Plaintiffs currently remain
incarcerated at Bossier Max. See Record Documents
5-2 and 5-3.
March 20, 2017, Plaintiffs filed the instant federal civil
rights class action suit, seeking solely declaratory and
injunctive relief against Whittington and Judges Mike Craig,
Jeff R. Thompson, E. Charles Jacobs, Mike Nerren, and Parker
Self in their official capacities. See Record
Document 1. Plaintiffs challenged (1) the bail schedule and
(2) the standing order regarding payment of the public
defender fee, arguing that both of these measures violate the
Equal Protection and Due Process Clauses of the Fourteenth
Amendment. See id. On March 21, 2017, Plaintiffs
filed the instant Motion for TRO and Preliminary Injunction.
See Record Document 5.
is a form of equitable injunctive relief that a court may
issue before there is an opportunity to hold a full hearing
on an application for a preliminary injunction. See
Fed.R.Civ.P. 65(b). To obtain a temporary restraining order,
"the moving party must establish four factors: (1) a
substantial likelihood of success on the merits, (2) a
substantial threat that failure to grant the injunction will
result in irreparable injury, (3) the threatened injury
outweighs any damage that the injunction may cause the
opposing party, and (4) the injunction will not disserve the
public interest." Harris v. Monroe City
Sch. Bd., 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 115871 at *8-9 (W.D.
La. 2012), citing Lakedreams v. Taylor, 932 F.2d
1103, 1107 (5th Cir. 1991). Injunctive relief "is an
extraordinary remedy and should be granted only if the movant
has clearly carried the burden of persuasion with respect to
all four factors." Allied Marketing Group, Inc. v.
CDL Marketing, Inc., 878 F.2d 806, 809 (5th Cir. 1989).
Court has considered each of the four factors upon which a
movant must carry the burden of persuasion to obtain a TRO,
and the Court finds that granting the “extraordinary
remedy” of a TRO is unwarranted based upon the showing
made in the instant Motion. Id. In particular, the
Court finds that the fourth element, which requires the Court
to examine whether the issuance of the TRO will serve the
public interest, weighs in favor of denying the TRO. Issuing
the broad order requested by Plaintiffs (1) declaring that
both of the policies at issue in the instant action are
unconstitutional and (2) enjoining Whittington from enforcing
them would create an untenable situation in both Bossier and
Webster Parishes, as currently established procedures for
handling bail matters would be upended overnight with no
replacement procedure in place. Furthermore, issuing the
requested relief would release Plaintiffs from jail. The
Court has no information upon which it could determine
whether Plaintiffs and the other unnamed members of their
purported class pose a danger ...