US court hears arguments over fines for poor convicts

Local News

BATON ROUGE, La. (KTAL) – (4/30/19) Arguments at a federal appeals court will deal with whether state criminal court judges in New Orleans are able to make impartial decisions on defendants’ ability to pay fines and fees.

The criminal court judges are appealing part of a federal judge’s 2018 declaratory judgment.

U.S. District Judge Sarah Vance said the judges’ control of a court expense fund causes a conflict of interest when they are determining whether a convicted defendant has the ability to pay fines or fees that flow into the fund.

Arguments are set for Tuesday morning at the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans. Lawyers for defendants will argue that Vance’s judgment should be upheld.

An immediate ruling is not expected from the appeals court.

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