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Federal judge certifies class-action suit against jail

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A federal judge has certified a class-action suit against the Lake County sheriff and others brought by a group of pretrial detainees who were held in the county jail in conditions they claim were unconstitutional.

Chief Judge Philip P. Simon of the U.S. District Court in the Northern District of Indiana granted the motion Wednesday in Richard Flood, et al. v. Roy Dominguez, individually in his capacity as sheriff of Lake County, Ind., et al., No. 2:08-CV-153.

The plaintiffs claimed detainees are consistently left in overcrowded holding cells for long periods of time. The holding cells are temporary homes for arrestees before they are moved to permanent housing. The cells range in size from 15-by-15-feet to 20-by-30-feet, have no beds or mattress, one toilet, and hold multiple detainees at a time.

All of the plaintiffs were left in a holding cell for at least 24 hours; some potential class members claim they were held for 3 to 45 days. The plaintiffs argue the conditions of these cells are unsanitary - “the walls and floor are often covered with bodily fluids, each holding cell has one toilet, which is often backed up and rarely has toilet paper; and Jail personnel do not provide detainees any means to clean themselves,” wrote the chief judge.

Their core complaint is that the jail doesn’t provide these detainees beds or something to sleep on. They also argue that food portions are inadequate and they must fight for food, the cells are consistently cold, there’s no ventilation, and bright lights are constantly on.

The class covers all detainees of Lake County, Ind., jail who were confined in the jail’s holding cells for more than 24 hours on or after May 13, 2006.

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  1. What is this, the Ind Supreme Court thinking that there is a separation of powers and limited enumerated powers as delegated by a dusty old document? Such eighteen century thinking, so rare and unwanted by the elites in this modern age. Dictate to us, dictate over us, the massess are chanting! George Soros agrees. Time to change with times Ind Supreme Court, says all President Snows. Rule by executive decree is the new black.

  2. I made the same argument before a commission of the Indiana Supreme Court and then to the fedeal district and federal appellate courts. Fell flat. So very glad to read that some judges still beleive that evidentiary foundations matter.

  3. KUDOS to the Indiana Supreme Court for realizing that some bureacracies need to go to the stake. Recall what RWR said: "No government ever voluntarily reduces itself in size. Government programs, once launched, never disappear. Actually, a government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we'll ever see on this earth!" NOW ... what next to this rare and inspiring chopping block? Well, the Commission on Gender and Race (but not religion!?!) is way overdue. And some other Board's could be cut with a positive for State and the reputation of the Indiana judiciary.

  4. During a visit where an informant with police wears audio and video, does the video necessary have to show hand to hand transaction of money and narcotics?

  5. I will agree with that as soon as law schools stop lying to prospective students about salaries and employment opportunities in the legal profession. There is no defense to the fraudulent numbers first year salaries they post to mislead people into going to law school.

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