Fifth Circuit: basing judges’ fund on fines and fees violates due process

Orleans Parish, Louisiana (= county, in this case coterminous with the City of New Orleans) funnels the revenue from many criminal fines and fees into a judicial services fund which, while it does not pay judges’ salaries, does cover many related expenses including staff salaries, conferences and office supplies. Judges themselves help determine the volume of inflow to the fund by their rulings in cases. Now a unanimous Fifth Circuit panel has ruled that given the fund’s substantial dependence on such revenue, the parish “failed to provide a neutral forum” and thus violated defendants’ constitutional right to due process [Nick Sibilla/Forbes, ABA Journal; opinion in Cain v. White]

2 Comments

  • It’s a good thing then that police seizures of assets are done without judicial intervention. otherwise it might be unconstitutional.

    • It’s not about judicial intervention as such. The due process clause violation comes from the court getting a cut of the fines and fees. I don’t think the courts get a cut of asset forfeiture or other police asset seizures.

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