Stay-at-home mother faces legal battle after overdue library book arrest warrant

A Texas stay-at-home mother has been thrown into a legal battle after a warrant was issued for her arrest over an overdue library book, and now, a public interest law firm is coming to her defense.

SEE ALSO: Stay-at-home mother faces jail time after arrest warrant issued for unreturned books at Grimes County library

Kaylee Morgan, a wife and mother of five, checked out books from the Navasota Public Library last March for her home-schooled children.

Amidst coping with a difficult pregnancy complicated by hyperemesis and placenta previa, she missed the return deadline. Although her husband managed to return most of the books, one remained unreturned due to its size not fitting in the library’s drop box.

When Morgan went to renew her driver’s license, she found out there was a warrant for a $570 ticket for overdue books.

As she tried to explain the situation to Judge Patricia M. Gruner, Morgan said the judge did not want to hear her “excuses” and said she needed to “take responsibility.”

“I really didn’t believe it. Like I really thought, I’m on ‘Punked’ or something, like this is not true,” Kaylee Morgan said.

KPRC 2′s Moriah Ballard spoke with Erica Smith Ewing who represents the public law firm that is now condemning the City of Navasota’s criminal conviction of Morgan for the late library books.

When asked how this law was even possible, Smith Ewing said,” The city passed a law in 1990, making it a misdemeanor offense to not return library books. So this law has been on the books for 35 years, and it looks like it’s something that they actively enforce.” She added, “They can have this law, but the Constitution says that it is unconstitutional. So they should reform this law. They should repeal this law and take it off the books.”

We also asked Smith Ewing if their law firm had ever seen any case like this before, which led to a bigger conversation on examples of fines and fees across the country.

To watch the full interview, check out the player above.

About the Author

Moriah Ballard joined the KPRC 2 digital team in the fall of 2021. Prior to becoming a digital content producer in Southeast Texas and a Houstonian, Moriah was an award-winning radio host in her hometown of Lorain, Ohio, and previously worked as a producer/content creator in Cleveland. Her faith, family, and community are her top passions.

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