In Georgia’s criminal legal system, wealth is synonymous with freedom. Hundreds of defendants, including Margery Mock and Eric Ogden, are routinely jailed pretrial due to their inability to afford the predetermined bail bond required for their release. In Glynn County, where we’ve sued, persons accused of misdemeanors who cannot afford to hire a private attorney are left in the dark due to a systemic failure to provide public defense representation. This arbitrary and wealth-based pretrial detention system is not only unconstitutional, but cruel given the devastating ramifications it has on individuals who cannot buy their freedom – ramifications of which include a disregard of one’s presumption of innocence, economic and emotional hardship on families, and potential loss of one’s job. This federal class action lawsuit seeks to disrupt these unlawful detention and counsel schemes and calls on Glynn County to consider fair, efficient alternative conditions of release that don’t depend on how much money a person has, and to remedy its deficient provision of public defense services.
We represent named Plaintiffs Margery Mock and Eric Ogden in this suit. Both Ms. Mock and Mr. Ogden were arrested on accusations of misdemeanor criminal trespass. Ms. Mock is 28 years old and at the time of her arrest was without stable housing and staying in a storage unit with all of her belongings. Upon her arrest, her bail was automatically set at $1,256, which she could not afford to pay.
The ACLU, the ACLU of Georgia, and local civil and criminal right champion James Yancey, Jr. join in this suit to demand that Glynn County no longer deprive poor arrestees of their right to due process, equal protection, the aid of counsel, and pretrial liberty. Incarcerating people based solely on their inability to buy their freedom is not justice – and we will not stand for it.