Friday, September 04, 2009

In Lawrenceburg, If At First You Don't Succeed . . .

You could just say, "Under the limit and you're under arrest." A 53-year-old man is suing the Lawrenceburg Police Department over their outrageous actions in attempting to arrest him for driving while under the influence. After a breathalyzer test determined that Jamie Lockard's blood alcohol level was below .08, Indiana's legal limit, Officer Brian Miller refused to accept the result. He then had Lockhard handcuffed and strapped to a gurney (purportedly based on a warrant), whereupon a catheter was forcefully inserted into him for a urine sample and a blood sample was drawn from him. When the blood test came back below the legal limit, the police charged Lockard with obstruction of justice! Lockard's suit names as defendants the arresting police officer, the Lawrenceburg Police Department, Dearborn County Hospital and Dr. Ronald Cheek. Constitutional lawyer Jonathan Turley takes note of this story at his blog. "A common complaint is that police in abuse cases will often charge victims with obstruction or resisting arrest to justify their actions and encourage victims to agree to a settlement of all charges," Turley writes.

5 comments:

Paul K. Ogden said...

The Hamilton County Prosecutor's office will actually use pending criminal charges to trade for dismissing civil claims, where someone who is a victim of police misconduct files a notice of tort claim. Even though the charges (often resisting arrest or disorderly conduct) might not be valid, the Hamilton County Prosecutor's Office will leave the charges pending until the person agrees not to pursue the civil lawsuit.

Under the old attorney disciplinary rules it was explicitly unethical for an attorney to threaten criminal action if someone doesn't settle a civil claim. That was edited out of the newer attorney disciplinary rules, the Rules of Professional Conduct, which took over right about the time I became a lawyer in 1987.

The Marion County Prosecutor's Office will also leave charges pending against someone who has served a notice of tort claim regarding police or prosecutorial misconduct. Even if the charges are totally bogus, they'll leave them pending against the person because he/she threatened civil litigation. I think that is so unethical. If you don't have a valid charge against someone, you dismiss. Period. Any prosecutor who leaves charges pending against people the prosecutor knows did not commit the crime, should be brought up on ethics charges.

Thanks, Gary, for bringing finding this.

spooknp said...

The Hamilton County Prosecutor's office will actually use pending criminal charges to trade for dismissing civil claims, where someone who is a victim of police misconduct files a notice of tort claim. Even though the charges (often resisting arrest or disorderly conduct) might not be valid...

What if the charges are valid? I liked how Lisa Trudeau filed legal documents reserving the right to sue Boone County for arresting her and her husband. Then, shortly there after the criminal charges are dropped to nothing more than civil infractions. I wonder if people now using the threat of civil litigation as a means to get criminal charges reduced as well?

macarnell said...

Read the pleadings--the defendant exhibited impairment beyond what could be explained by his BAC of 0.07, and admitted to prescription Xanax use while drinking. Is law enforcement to simply allow motorists driving the highways a "pass" because their polysubstance abuse is not all ethanol? Here is a man who was abusing two legal substances (Xanax and Ethanol) to the point of impairment and law enforcement. Are you suggesting that we, as a society, should give him a "pass" because he is uncooperative?

Advance Indiana said...

macarnell, You raise an interesting point on the mixture of prescription drugs and alcohol. The news story doesn't discuss that issue. People who take these prescribed medications are told not to mix them with alcohol but they do anyway, sometimes with terrible consequences.

spooknp said...

Omitted from the civil lawsuit was this small, meaningless fact:

"Once the samples were obtained, a test showed Lockard's BAC was still below the legal limit at .05, but the department says several other drugs were detected in his blood, including Benxodiazepines, Opiates, Cannabinoids, Oxycodone, Opioids and MDMA."