What's at Stake
In Oklahoma cash bail is being used keep poor people behind bars. In Canadian County, Oklahoma if you have the money, you get out of jail. If you are poor, you stay in. That’s why we sued.
The American Civil Liberties Union, ACLU of Oklahoma, Criminal Law Reform Project, Disability Rights Program, Overman Legal Group PLLC, and Covington & Burling LLP filed a groundbreaking federal class action lawsuit against court officials in Canadian County, Oklahoma for violating the constitutional rights of people who are presumed innocent but are held in custody pending trial, subject to bail amounts that they cannot afford to pay. The lawsuit is filed on behalf of six plaintiffs being held in the Canadian County jail who cannot afford to pay the bail amount set by a magistrate with no consideration of their ability to pay, and no attorney provided during bail settings. This is the first class action lawsuit in the country to litigate disability claims in the bail context pursuant to the ADA and Rehabilitation Act. Some of our clients are facing probation revocations and also have warrants in other cases for failure to pay fines and fees. In addition to our innovative disability claims, Plaintiffs seek injunctive and declaratory relief addressing the Canadian County judges’ use of a preprinted bail schedule, policy and practice of imposing secured cash bail conditions without an individualized hearing at which counsel is present, and an arrestee’s ability to pay is considered. Our seventh client is the Oklahoma State Conference, NAACP, for our First Amendment claim challenging closed proceedings. The named Defendants are the two District Court Judges and three Special Judges in the Canadian County District Court.