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Federal appeals court judges said they were “deeply troubled” that a Georgia municipal court jailed a woman when she couldn’t pay a fine for driving without insurance.

A three-judge panel of the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the dismissal of Ziahonna Teagan’s claims that her civil rights were violated, but said she could pursue a false imprisonment claim against the city of McDonough, news outlets reported.

“We are deeply troubled by what happened to Ms. Teagan in the McDonough municipal court,” the unsigned opinion says. “She, like all other citizens of that city, deserved better.”

After Teagan pleaded not guilty in December 2013, Judge Donald Patten found her guilty during a bench trial in March 2014. He imposed a $745 fine for driving without insurance and a $50 fine for arriving late to court.

Teagan told the judge she couldn’t immediately pay the fine but would be able to pay just over a week later. Patten sentenced her to serve 60 days in jail, suspending the sentence on the condition that she pay the total amount within nine days.




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