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Second Lawsuit Brought This Month For Illegal Detention

Despite judges’ orders, individuals detained for months past release dates

NEW ORLEANS – The Roderick and Solange MacArthur Justice Center of New Orleans has filed a lawsuit on behalf of three individuals, Eddie Copelin, Phillip Dominick III, and Donald Guidry, who were held in custody for several months after their release dates. This is the second lawsuit brought for illegal over detention this month.

Mr. Copelin, Mr. Dominick, and Mr. Guidry were in the custody of the Orleans Parish Sheriff’s Office and housed pretrial at the River Bend Detention Center in Lake Providence, Louisiana through an agreement with the Sheriff of East Carroll Parish. Each resolved his criminal charge, had completed his sentenced time, and was entitled to release and freedom. Yet these men continued to be illegally detained and had to wait for months before being released.

“The Defendants disregarded their fundamental responsibility to only hold people in custody when they have the legal authority to do so,” said Emily Washington, an attorney with the MacArthur Justice Center. “They knew that Mr. Copelin, Mr. Dominick, and Mr. Guidry were entitled to release, and that their actions – or inactions – were violating these men’s rights.” 

A similar suit was filed August 2 on behalf of two individuals, Jessie Crittindon and Leon Burse, who were each held in custody for five months after their release dates. The release of each individual was only granted after the involvement of counsel. Neither Orleans nor East Carroll Sheriff’s Offices, nor the Department of Corrections, acted to ensure the men’s release from custody.

“These are clearly not isolated incidents,” said Katie Schwartzmann, co-Director of the MacArthur Justice Center. “There is a disturbing pattern of these public officials abusing their authority and ignoring the legal rights of those in their custody.”

Both suits name officials with the Orleans Parish Sheriff’s Office (OPSO), the East Carroll Parish Sheriff’s Office (ECPSO), and the Louisiana Department of Public Safety and Corrections (DPS&C). The plaintiffs seek redress for violations of the Fourteenth Amendment as well as violations of the Louisiana Constitution and state law, including due process, false imprisonment, and emotional distress.

A copy of the Complaint is available here» Complaint

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