Judge rejects class action lawsuit against mayor's court of Gretna

By Sandra Lane | Oct 4, 2018

The plaintiff's say Gretna's citiations target the poor.  

NEW ORLEANS –– A federal judge threw out a class action lawsuit over traffic tickets handled by the municipal court in Gretna.

On Sept. 25, Judge Ivan L.R. Memelle of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana dismissed the suit brought by Tamara G. Nelson and Timothea Richardson in 2017. 

The plaintiffs allege the mayor's court of Gretna, which handles minor crimes like tickets and disturbing the peace, is used as a "source of income for the municipality." The plaintiffs claim the fees handed down at the court pay the salaries of all city officials, which makes them "incentivized to maximize arrests and prosecutions."

In addition, the plaintiffs say the program targets African-Americans and the poor.

Nelson currently has a traffic case pending before the mayor's court. Richardson is in the court's deferred prosecution program. 

The judge ruled there were still issues with certifying the class action, such as calculating potential plaintiffs' financial ability to pay such fees. Memelle dismissed the complaint to give the parties additional time to conduct discovery and perhaps resolve the situation outside of court. 

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