The Legal Aid Justice Center’s report “Driven Deeper into Debt” generated nationwide attention upon its release in May 2016. The analysis studied the payment plan approaches of 105 General District Courts in Virginia and found that “Virginia courts need to do much more to ensure that state residents who are unable to pay their court debts are not pushed further into debt and pushed further into the criminal justice system by ill-conceived payment policies.”
As the 2016 timeline suggests, the report served as a springboard for the class action suit (Stinnie v. Holcomb) filed in July 2016 on behalf of four plaintiffs. All the legal filings in the case to date can be found here. Support for the lawsuit has come from many media outlets as well from the Department of Justice, the Virginia NAACP, and others.
The following year saw the case argued before the U.S. District Court, the case receiving a setback when that court issued an initial dismissal, and the case continuing when an appeal was filed with the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals. In September 2017, the Legal Aid Justice Center published “Driven By Dollars“, an examination of the license-for-payment systems across the country. The report found that licenses were suspended in 43 states and the District of Columbia due to unpaid court debt.