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Articles about Wrongful Convictions

Defendants Denied Summary Judgment in Wrongful Incarceration Suit

Defendants Denied Summary Judgment In Wrongful Incarceration Suit

An Indiana federal district court has partially denied summary judgment and the qualified immunity defense to defendants at the Allen County (Indiana) Jail in a case involving wrongful imprisonment.

Shakidi Johnson was arrested on contempt of court charges for failure to appear in two paternity suits filed against him in the Allen County Superior Court. Johnson was also charged with misdemeanor resisting arrest. The Allen Superior Court issued an order, called a "Body Attachment," instructing the Allen County Sheriff to arrest and hold Johnson "until you bring that person before the Judge to answer a contempt in not obeying an order of this court."

Johnson was arrested November 10, 1997, and after serving time for the contempt and resisting arrest charges he was scheduled to be released December 19, 1997. He was not released until January 6, 1998, despite having filed 14 inquiries with jail officials over 27 days, when his family contacted the court directly and obtained a release order.

Thereafter, Johnson filed suit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging violations of his U.S. Constitutional rights under the Fourth, Eighth, and Fourteenth (substantive due process) Amendments.

The defendants responded ...

$3.54 Million Paid For Falsely Imprisoning Unconvicted Mentally-Incapacitated California Man For Two Years In New York

A mentally incapacitated misdemeanant detainee at the Los Angeles County, California, jail was unlawfully extradited to New York, where he was imprisoned for two years in the Green Haven Correctional Center without further legal process. During that time, his mother _ duly appointed as Conservator for his Person and Estate ...

Section 1983 Civil Rights Claims Not Barred by Kansas Tort Remedies

The Kansas Court of Appeals held that the existence of adequate state tort remedies did not bar claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, and that the limitation period for § 1983 claims is two years.

Kansas prisoner James Gragg was entitled to release on April 28, 1996. After he was convicted, however, KAR 446124(g)(6) was amended, altering the calculation of good time credits and specifically depriving Gragg of some of his good time credits.

Gragg filed a petition for habeas corpus, arguing that the application of KAR 446124(g)(6) was an ex post facto law. The trial court agreed and ordered that Gragg's release date be recalculated. Despite that order, no recalculation was completed and Gragg remained in prison until July 27, 1996, forty-seven days beyond his release date.

On April 28, 1998, Gragg filed a state court § 1983 action against prison officials for holding him beyond his release date. The trial court granted the defendants' motion to dismiss, holding that Gragg's cause of action under § 1983 was barred because an adequate state remedy for false imprisonment was available and that a false imprisonment claim must be brought within one year.

Citing Zinermon v. Burch ...

Los Angeles Sheriff's Over-Detention Policy Renders County Liable Under 42 U.S.C. Section 1983

The Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals held that Los Angeles County Jail prisoners who were kept beyond their release dates for the purpose of awaiting the completion of records searches for any outstanding warrants or detainers could sue for money damages under 42 USC § 1983.

The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department (LASD) had a longstanding policy that when a prisoner at the LA County Jail reaches his/her due date for release, only then is the routine pre-release records search commenced for outstanding holds, warrants and detainers. As a result, prisoners are detained past the service of their sentences until the administrative checks are completed, often one or two days later.

Valerie Streit was among six groups of prisoners who sued Los Angeles County Sheriff Sherman Block and the County for damages in federal district court (C.D. Cal.) under § 1983, alleging defendants were liable because they had a policy of intentionally over detaining prisoners in violation of their California and United States constitutional rights.

Defendants moved unsuccessfully to have the suits dismissed because the LASD claimed it was performing a law enforcement function, not an administrative function, when checking for such holds/detainers; because the LASD ...

'Invisible' Prisoner Gets $36,200 for Wrongful Imprisonment

A Mississippi man who was improperly jailed for nearly 10 months because of a "bureaucratic snafu" was awarded just $36,200 by a federal jury in Jackson, Mississippi in October 2000.

Joseph Jones, a Jackson mechanic, was stopped by a state patrol officer in June 1994, at which time the ...

Unlawful Imprisonment Nets Ohio Man $25,000

In late 2000 ex-Ohio state prisoner Ricky Carter, 44, agreed to accept a $25,000 award to compensate him for being incarcerated over 13 months past his release date. Carter, who was due to be released March 15, 1998, was instead illegally held until April 28, 1999. Ohio prison official ...

$5,500 Awarded in NY Unlawful Imprisonment Suit

On May 4, 2000, the New York court of Claims awarded Allen Israel $5,600 in damages after New York parole officials wrongfully violated his parole. Israel had a maximum parole expiration date of April 12, 1996. His parole was later revoked due to a traffic offense but no new ...

$49,999 Settlement in CA Sex Extortion Suit

On February 1, 2000, San Bernadino County, California settled a lawsuit with Jeffrey Darr for $49,999. Darr filed suit claiming that county sheriff deputy James Wiebeld (now promoted to detective) had framed him on methamphetamine manufacturing charges, for which he spent three years in jail awaiting trial, so Wiebeld ...

$105,000 Awarded in Michigan Wrongful Imprisonment Suit

On April 14, 1999, a Wayne county jury in Michigan awarded Willie Thomas Jr., Larry Reid and Edward Grant $35,000 in damages each. The three men had been Michigan state prisoners who were released after serving their entire sentences. Several months later, the Michigan DOC ordered their arrest claiming ...

$3,000 Awarded in Wrongful Release Suit

On October 29, 1999, the New York court of claims awarded. $3,000 in damages to Frank Nicchio. Nicchio was a New York state prisoner who was wrongly held 30 days past his release date from prison. Nicchio was granted summary judgment on the issue of liability. The case went ...