SHREVEPORT – Two indigent citizens arrested on panhandling charges allege their civil rights were violated.
James M. Wheat and Danny Brinson, individually and on behalf of all others similarly situated, filed a complaint on March 20 in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Louisiana, Shreveport Division against Judges Mike Craig, Jeff R. Thompson, Jeff Cox, E. Charles Jacobs, Mike Nerren and Parker Self and Bossier Parish Sheriff Julian C. Whittington alleging violation of the plaintiffs due process and equal protection rights.
According to the complaint, the plaintiffs allege that they were both arrested and detained for an alleged violation of a statute prohibiting panhandling on March 6. Both had bail automatically set at $1,000 on a charge that carries only a $200 fine, the suit states. The plaintiffs holds Craig, Thompson, Cox, Jacobs, Nerren, Self and Whittington responsible because the defendants allegedly failed to allow plaintiffs to argue for bail reduction or a nonfinancial alternative to bail.
The plaintiffs seek an order declaring that the defendants’ money-based detention scheme is unconstitutional and unenforceable and to release plaintiffs and all similarly situated class members, award for reasonable attorneys’ fees and costs and all other relief the court deems just and proper. They are represented by Eric A. Foley and Katie M. Schwartzmann of Roderick & Solange MacArthur Justice Center in New Orleans.
U.S. District Court for the Western District of Louisiana, Shreveport Division Case number 5:17-cv-00424