On Tuesday, Morales filed a class-action lawsuit against Indio and Coachella, two cities that have made a practice of taking residents to criminal court for exceptionally minor crimes, then charging them thousands to pay for the cost of their own prosecution.
This profitability colored every case filed by Silver & Wright, Redfern said, making prosecutions less about fixing problem properties and more about cashing in on convictions.
The firm then helped both cities create new ordinances that would allow them to send a bill to anyone who is convicted of a nuisance property crime, then began taking property owners to criminal court.
Although The Desert Sun investigation identified 18 cases in which residents or business were charged prosecution fees, Morales is currently the only plaintiff in the class-action lawsuit.
Morales says she told her tenant to get rid of the chickens, but when the chickens weren’t removed, Indio forwarded the case to Silver & Wright, who filed criminal charges against Morales and sought a warrant for her arrest.