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Allen County settles suit over length of detainments at jail

November 20, 2015

Allen County leaders have approved a roughly $638,000 settlement of a class-action lawsuit claiming 962 people were detained too long in the county jail.

The Allen County Council approved the $637,842 settlement Thursday, The Journal Gazette reports. The plaintiffs claimed they were illegally held for more than 48 hours in the Allen County jail without a probable-cause hearing before a judge between 2008 and early 2010.

About $364,300 of the settlement will go to the plaintiffs, while roughly $273,500 will go toward legal fees and court costs. Payments to plaintiffs will range from $200 to $1,000, depending on their time of over-detainment.

John Feighner, the county's attorney in the case, said the prolonged detainments happened when suspects were arrested on weekends and had to wait until the next business day for a hearing. On three-day holiday weekends, that could have been Tuesday or later.

The county agreed it had violated the law within 30 days of receiving the lawsuit, Feighner said.

Procedures have since been put in place, according to Feighner. There's now a rotating schedule for magistrates and judges for Saturday, and occasionally Friday, Sunday or Monday for holiday weekends.

Feighner said no claims have been made since 2010. He said similar situations wouldn't come up again unless there's a clerical error.

The money for plaintiffs will go into a fund, with checks distributed by an outside entity charged with finding them. Feighner said it could take the county as long as 10 years to pay if plaintiffs aren't found immediately.

Similar lawsuits were filed in other Indiana counties, including St. Joseph and LaGrange counties.

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