A team from Compass Lexecon’s Boston office, led by Steve Peterson, worked with lawyers at McGuire Woods and the Legal Aid Justice Center to provide expert testimony in the case of Stinnie v. Holcomb, which argued that a Virginia law mandating driver’s license suspension for people who cannot pay court fines violated the Equal Protection Clause of the Constitution.
Dr. Peterson testified that the loss of a driver’s license for the inability to pay court fines adversely affects people’s ability to obtain and maintain employment and can lead to the loss of income and to imprisonment. Based on his analysis of publicly available data from Virginia’s court system that was compiled by independent computer scientist Ben Schoenfeld, Dr. Peterson also testified that the practice of suspending licenses for failure to pay disproportionately affects the poor.
A federal court judge granted a preliminary injunction in the case and in December 2018 Virginia Governor Ralph Northam proposed a budget amendment that would end the policy. Dr. Peterson also assisted with the preparation of the Virginia Poverty Law Center’s amicus brief in Nicholson v. Virginia, a separate case in which a woman was fighting her license suspension.
Dr. Peterson was assisted by a team at Compass Lexecon that included Aanchal Jain, Carlos Paez, and Douglas Schwartz.