Monday, July 7, 2008

No civil action for man falsely jailed for rape

"You can be thrown in a cage, held for a month, where nobody listens to you or even bothers to look at photos or mug shots or the actual rapist to compare, and that's just tough luck," said the attorney of a wrongly jailed man. The man's civil action against the local sheriff's department in connection with a rape he didn't commit has been dismissed. Whether the civil action should have been dismissed, I don't know. The important fact is that this man had been arrested for raping a baby in a county he had never been in. How do such injustices occur? Read below to see -- two different news accounts.

HERE ARE TWO NEWS STORIES:

Judge Dismisses Wrongful Jailing Case

Last Updated: 6:53 PM Jul 3, 2008
Reporter: Deb Farris
Email Address: deb.farris@kake.com

Francisco Reyes filed a lawsuit against the Sedgwick County Sheriff's Department after he was wrongly arrested for rape in Colorado in 2006. His lawsuit claims that his civil rights were violated.

He was arrested on charges of raping a baby in Sedgwick County in 1991. Reyes had never been in Sedgwick County.

The judge's ruling said that there was not enough evidence to support the civil rights claims.
Sedgwick County attorneys said they are not surprised by the court's decision and said the Sheriff has immunity.

Reyes is planning to file an appeal in the next week.

Link: http://www.kake.com/news/headlines/22892219.html

Man held mistakenly can't sue county

BY RON SYLVESTER
The Wichita Eagle

A man held for a month in jail under a mistaken identity can't sue Sedgwick County or Sheriff Gary Steed, a federal judge ruled Thursday.

His lawyer said Francisco J. Reyes deserves to have a jury decide if his civil rights were violated when authorities mistakenly matched him to a man wanted in connection with an infant's rape.

"You can be thrown in a cage, held for a month, where nobody listens to you or even bothers to look at photos or mug shots or the actual rapist to compare, and that's just tough luck," said Kurt Kerns, who represents Reyes.

On Thursday, U.S. District Judge Kathryn Vratil of Kansas City granted a request by Wichita lawyer Art Chalmers to dismiss the suit. The judge said Reyes didn't tell authorities in Colorado or Kansas that he wasn't the man wanted on rape charges, so now he can't sue the county or its sheriff.

Kerns said he plans to file an appeal Monday.

Vratil agreed with Chalmers that "there is no clearly established constitutional right to a post-arrest investigation."

Chalmers had contended in arguments filed with the court that, "Without a constitutional right, there can be no constitutional violation."

Kerns said records show Reyes repeatedly told authorities they had the wrong man, but no one bothered to check his story, keeping him in jail for two weeks in Colorado and two weeks in Wichita.

According to evidence admitted during the lawsuit:

A Colorado state trooper stopped Reyes for speeding on Nov. 18, 2005, and matched his name to a man with a similar name wanted in connection with the rape of an 11-month-old in Wichita.
Authorities in Colorado didn't compare fingerprints or mug shots, which would have shown Reyes was not the fugitive they sought. No one checked them once Reyes returned to Kansas, either.

The real wanted man, meanwhile, was arrested on a minor charge, then set free, in Florida.

On Dec. 15, 2005, after Reyes' lawyers showed he wasn't the right defendant, Assistant Sedgwick County District Attorney Sally Salguero dropped the charges, allowing him to go free.

Link: http://www.kansas.com/213/story/454167.html