MALDEF Files Suit Against LaGrange Sheriff’s Office for Unlawful Detention of Young Mother

MALDEF filed suit in Federal District Court against LaGrange Sheriff and two jail administrators for excessive detention of a young Latina mother in violation of federal law

June 14, 2010

Fort Wayne, In – Today, MALDEF’s Midwest Regional Office along with Fort Wayne law firm Christopher C. Myers and Associates filed a federal lawsuit against Terry Martin, Sheriff of LaGrange County, and two jail administrators for their failure to release a young mother who was eligible for release from state custody 48 hours after having posted bond for felony charges relating to a $10 “bounced” check.

Despite the fact that the young mother posted bond, making her eligible for release, LaGrange County Jail officials continued to detain her because the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”) had lodged an immigration detainer against her. ICE detainers allow state law enforcement officials to detain an individual for up to 48 hours after the individual is eligible for release from state custody. In this case, however, LaGrange officials held the young mother in excess of 48 hours without legal authority.

In February 2010, MALDEF called upon LaGrange officials to release the young mother in accordance with federal regulations. LaGrange officials released the young mother shortly thereafter.

“Although the ICE detainer authorized LaGrange officials to detain our client for up to 48 hours after posting bond, the Sheriff’s policies or procedures, or lack thereof, resulted in our client’s excessive and unlawful detention in violation of her constitutional rights,” said Ricardo Meza, MALDEF’s Midwest Regional Counsel.

MALDEF filed suit on behalf of the young mother on the ground that the LaGrange County jail officials violated her rights under the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution, which guarantees that no person may be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process. In this case, her detention in excess of the 48 hours allowed by federal law caused a deprivation of this right.

“The Sheriff’s policies with regard to ICE detainers failed to protect her from unlawful and prolonged detention,” said Christopher Myers, local counsel in the case.

For all media inquiries, please contact Laura Rodriguez.

Copyright 2009 MALDEF — Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund