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Thursday, July 24, 2014

Update on Arrest Booking Fee Case

You may remember that the Village of Woodridge had an ordinance that imposed a $30 booking fee on anyone arrested in the Village.  A civil rights lawsuit was filed to challenge the constitutionality of the fee.  In January of this year, the 7th Circuit dismissed the case. We previously reported on the court's decision that upheld the Village's $30 arrest booking fee here

The case recently made its way back to the 7th Circuit on rehearing.  On July 21, 2014, the Seventh Circuit issued its second opinion in this case.  The opinion was divided and there was no majority for any position; as a result, the effect of the divided Court was to affirm the district court's dismissal, again.

Even though the outcome didn't change from the initial opinion, this second opinion is still worth reading as it contains some interesting analysis and guidance from the 7th Circuit on local fees that are not tied to the provision of any service (all of the Judges agree on one point - an arrest fee is not paid for the privilege or "service" of being arrested).  The dissenting opinion would strike down the fee as unconstitutional, as violating an individual's due process rights.  

Although the decision did not strike down Woodridge's arrest fee, Woodridge did that itself in repealing the ordinance.  Municipalities with similar arrest fees, however, would be well-advised to carefully read this second opinion, because even though there was no majority position to find Woodridge's fee unconstitutional based on the specific facts presented, another challenge to a municipal fee could very well be decided differently.

Post Authored by Julie Tappendorf, Ancel Glink


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