Below is the first part of an article by Tom Jackson from sanduckyregister.com. It reads…
The lawsuit filed against Norwalk Municipal Court, former judge John Ridge and the city of Norwalk seeks class action status and claims the court jailed defendants for nonpayment of fines without bothering to hold hearings on whether the defendants could afford to pay the money.
Ohio’s branch of the American Civil Liberties Union criticized the practice and accused Norwalk’s municipal court and other municipal courts of essentially running “debtors prisons” that put the poor in jail without paying attention to their rights.
The Ohio Supreme Court responded to the concerns by issuing guidelines a few weeks ago to all of Ohio’s judges. The lawsuit, filed in federal court in Toledo and assigned to U.S. District Judge James Carr, must overcome the traditional reluctance of the courts to allow governments to be sued. That issue will be one of Carr’s first decisions in the case.
The plaintiffs in the lawsuit are Joshua Ward, of Huron; Jeremiah Stover, of Sandusky; Larry Thornsberry, of Norwalk; and Tammy Dewiel, of Collins.
The attorney who filed the lawsuit, John Gold, of Sandusky, has received permission to file an amended lawsuit.
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