Pact means 5 in 'debtors' prison' lawsuit won't face jail
NEW ORLEANS - Judges in New Orleans have agreed not to jail five people over their alleged failure to pay court fees.
The agreement filed Thursday in federal court is the latest development in a lawsuit alleging that New Orleans judges preside over what amounts to an unconstitutional "debtors' prison."
The five affected are lead plaintiffs in that lawsuit, which says New Orleans criminal justice officials routinely use jail or the threat of jail to collect court debts from poor people.
U.S. District Judge Sarah Vance set an August trial date in the case.
Lawyers for the five plan to ask the court for "class action" status. If granted, and the plaintiffs win the case, all poor people who owe court fees would be protected from jail over failure to pay the debts.