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Little v. Frederick

United States District Court, W.D. Louisiana, Lafayette Division

December 3, 2018

EDWARD LITTLE, ET AL.
v.
THOMAS FREDERICK, ET AL.

          PATRICK J. HANNA MAG. JUDGE

          RULING

          TERRY A. DOUGHTY UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Pending before the Court is a Motion for Summary Judgment [Doc. No. 133] filed by Defendant Thomas Frederick (“Frederick”) and a Motion for Partial Summary Judgment [Doc. No. 140] filed by Plaintiffs Edward Little (“Little”) and Sheila Ann Murphy (“Murphy”). The motions are fully briefed. See [Doc. Nos. 149, 150& 154].

         For the following reasons, the motions are DENIED.

         I. FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         Little and Murphy brought this lawsuit against Frederick, Commissioner of the Fifteenth Judicial District Court, and Judge Kristian Earles, Chief Judge of the Fifteenth Judicial District Court.[1]

         Little was arrested on June 3, 2017, on a charge of felony theft and detained in the Lafayette Parish Correctional Center. The following day, Frederick determined probable cause for his arrest and set his bail as a $3, 000 secured bond. Little could not afford to pay that amount remained incarcerated until June 10, 2017.

         Murphy was arrested on February 3, 2018, on a charge of felony possession of narcotics and two related misdemeanors. She was detained at the Lafayette Parish Correctional Center. Frederick determined probable cause for Ms. Murphy's arrest and set her bail as a $2, 500 secured bond. She then appeared via closed-circuit television at ¶ 72-hour hearing before Frederick, during which he affirmed the bond amount. Murphy could not afford that amount of bond and remained incarcerated until February 10, 2018.

         Frederick makes the initial bail determinations for all arrestees in Lafayette, Vermillion, and Acadia Parishes. Before February 2018, a bail schedule governed the release of certain misdemeanor offenses, meaning that Lafayette Parish Sheriff's deputies would refer to a predetermined list of bond amounts, organized by offense, to determine the conditions of an arrestee's pretrial release. The most recent bail schedule was ordered by Judge Earles in 2013.

         In February 2018, the judges of the Fifteenth Judicial District issued an en banc order rescinding the previous schedule and replacing it with an order requiring the Sheriff to automatically release with a summons all persons arrested on certain misdemeanor charge unless it was their third arrest within six months. All other misdemeanor arrestees were to have their bonds set in the same manner as felony arrestees.

         In August 2018, the en banc order was revised to list all misdemeanor charges for which there would not be an automatic release with a summons, directing the Sheriff to release all others unless it was their third arrest within six months. All persons arrested for the misdemeanors listed on the order would have their bonds set in the same manner as felony arrestees.

         In general, the parties do not dispute Frederick's past and current procedures for setting bond amounts. However, Plaintiffs contend that Frederick does not take the financial conditions of arrestees into account, while Frederick denies this contention and further points out that, with regard to felony bonds, he does not have the authority to reduce those bonds.

         On October 26, 2018, Frederick filed a Motion for Partial Summary Judgment [Doc. No. 133]. Although the motion was filed only by Frederick, he moves for partial summary ...


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