United States District Court, S.D. Georgia, Dublin Division
RANDY EUGENE COLEMAN, STAR LATOSHA YOUNG, and all other persons similarly-situated, Plaintiffs,
MIDDLE GEORGIA PROBATION, LLC, Defendant.
the Court is Plaintiffs' Motion to Certify Issues to the
Supreme Court of Georgia (doc. no. 38) . For the following
reasons, Plaintiffs' motion is DENIED.
O.C.G.A. 42-8-100(g) (2006) (current version at O.C.G.A.
§ 42-8-101 (2016}}, the chief judge of any court, with
the approval of the local governing body, had authority to
enter into an agreement with a private company to provide
probation supervision services for misdemeanor
offenders. Defendant provides such services for the
State Court of Emanuel County, Georgia, and the Municipal
Court of Swainsboro, Georgia, pursuant to an agreement that
was executed on April 15, 2011 ("Private Probation
Agreement"). (Doc. No. 40, Ex. B, at 92.) In exchange
for Defendant's services, probationers must pay Defendant
fees commensurate with the rates described in the Private
Probation Agreement. (Id. at 101.)
Randy Eugene Coleman and Star Latosha Young were both placed
on probation after pleading guilty to misdemeanor charges in
the State Court of Emanuel County and the Municipal Court of
Swainsboro, respectively. (Id., Exs. C, E, at 109,
117; Am. Compl., Doc. No. 40, ¶¶ 12, 18.) Pursuant
to the terms of their probation, Plaintiffs were placed under
Defendant's supervision and were required to pay
probation supervision fees. (Am. Compl. ¶¶ 14, 18.)
April 7, 2015, Plaintiffs brought this putative class action
alleging that the Private Probation Agreement and O.C.G.A.
42-8-100 (g) violated the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S.
Constitution and Georgia law. Plaintiffs contend that these
violations void the Private Probation Agreement and that
Plaintiffs are therefore entitled to recover all probation
supervision fees paid to Defendant. (Id.
¶¶ 58, 74, 86, 98, 111.)
November 12, 2015, this case was stayed pending resolution of
the appeal in a similar case, Keen v. Judicial
Alternatives of Ga., Inc., 124 F.Supp.3d 1334 (S.D. Ga.
2015). (Doc. No. 28.) On January 17, 2017, one month after
the Court held a status conference discussing, among other
things, the impact of Eleventh Circuit's decision in
Keen v. Judicial Alternatives of Georgia, Inc., 637
Fed.Appx. 546 (11th Cir. 2015), the Court granted
Plaintiffs' unopposed motion to amend their complaint.
(Doc. No. 39.) Plaintiffs now move the Court to certify the
following questions to the Georgia Supreme Court:
1. Under the Constitution of the State of Georgia, is the
establishment of the amount of fees a misdemeanor probationer
can be sentenced to pay for probation supervision a matter
for legislative action by the Georgia legislature?
2. Does the application of the Georgia Private Probation
Statute, O.C.G.A. § 42-8-100, et seg., under the
Defendant's contracts offend the due process clause of
the Georgia Constitution?
3. Is imprisonment of misdemeanor probationers for failure to
pay debts allegedly owed to a private, for-profit corporation
imprisonment for debt forbidden by Art. 1, Sec. 1, ¶ 23
of the Constitution of the State of Georgia?
4. is a contract with a private company to provide probation
supervision services to a court void under Georgia law if it
has not been approved by the current local government and the
current chief judge of that court?
5. Is a contract with a private company to provide probation
supervision services to a Georgia court void if it has not
been filed with the County and Municipal Probation Advisory
Council of Georgia in accord with the requirements of Rule
503-1-.22 of the Rules and Regulations of the State of
6. Does the Georgia Private Probation Statute, codified at
O.C.G.A. § 42-8-100, et seg., authorize courts to enter
into contracts with a private company under which the private
company is compensated solely by fees paid by probationers ?
7. Does it offend the due process clause of the Georgia
Constitution for officers of a Georgia court, including
probation officers, to have systemic conflicts of interest,