Indy jail wrongful-detention suit order appealed to 7th Circuit

October 17, 2016

A judge’s ruling denying class-action certification for a group of people held in the Marion County Jail, sometimes for days after posting bond, has been challenged at the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals.

The 7th Circuit on Friday docketed an interlocutory appeal of an order issued Sept. 30 by Chief Judge Richard Young of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana. Young denied certification of a class of people held for up to 72 hours longer than legally authorized after making bail.

Young did, however, grant class certification for people who were “re-arrested” by the Marion County Sheriff’s Department after they were released on their own recognizance, found not guilty or acquitted, or who should have been released to community corrections for electronic monitoring.

Plaintiffs in the suit claim Marion County Sheriff John Layton has a policy or practice of holding inmates for up to 72 hours after they are ordered released. The suit filed in December 2014 and amended two months later claims potentially thousands of people were held longer than jailers were legally allowed. Plaintiffs allege in some cases people were held up to five days after their release orders were approved.

The Sheriff’s Department has blamed computer systems that were inadequate to ensure the timely release of prisoners as a key problem that resulted in the detentions.

Young wrote in his order that common issues don’t predominate among those detained after they were ordered released on bond, and therefore certification of that class would be inappropriate. First, those held less than 48 hours would be subject to different burdens of proof, because Young said caselaw presumes that length of detention to be reasonable.

“Second, a number of variables such as staffing levels during the time the inmate was to be processed; the number of holds on the inmate; the extent of the inmate’s criminal history; the number of aliases used by the inmate; and whether there are any unusual circumstances present at the time the inmate is to be processed such as internet outages; can complicate the timing of a detainee’s release,” he wrote in denying class certification to that group.

The classes that plaintiffs sought include those who were wrongfully detained in the jail from Dec. 19, 2012, forward. The case is Michael Driver, Terry Clayton, Michael Boyd and Nicholas Swords, et al., v. Marion County Sheriff, 1:14-CV-2076.


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