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Judge denies motion to reconsider

January 1, 2008
A federal judge took some time this week to defend a previous decision that dropped Indiana as a defendant in a suit filed by a Fort Wayne man who accuses police, prosecutors, and the Allen Circuit Court of discriminating against him.

Pro se plaintiff Derrick O. Martin asked U.S. District Judge Philip Simon, Northern District of Indiana, Fort Wayne Division, to reconsider the court's ruling from earlier this year. The judge issued a three-page opinion Wednesday denying the request that claimed the court had erroneously described his police encounter as one where he was "roughed up" rather than a full assault and battery as Martin had alleged.

Martin filed a suit in September 2007 alleging that police battered him during an arrest, jail officers intentionally injured him and taunted him with racial slurs, and the prosecutor and courts wrongly discriminated against him because of his race. He asked for $5.5 million in reasonable damages, naming 14 defendants that ranged from the city, state, arresting and correctional officers, to even "Bodo," the police dog involved in his arrest.

The judge ruled in February that the state of Indiana - named after it revoked Martin's license - would be excluded as a defendant because the 11th Amendment doesn't allow non-consenting states to be sued in federal court.

"Reconsideration is not warranted here," the judge wrote. "The only issue before the Court was whether the State of Indiana should be dismissed as a defendant. I did not misunderstand or misapprehend the issues."

The order lists comments from Martin stating, "If Rodney King can sue a state for circumstances I believe are similar, I should be able to do so also ..." and that he views the injuries as being "assault and battery, excessive force, and unconstitutional in the worst way."

The judge added that by stating that Martin had been "roughed up" by police, he "did not intend to diminish the seriousness of, or trivialize, Martin's allegations. In any event, my description or perception of the events at issue had no impact on the legal analysis of this straightforward issue under the Eleventh Amendment."
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