Another innocent man is free
White Collar Crime Blog

Pre-arraignment detention

Hayes v. Faulkner County, Arkansas, No. 03-3787 (8th Cir., Oct. 29, 2004) (Benton, for Murphy and McMillian,).

A citizen is arrested and held in jail for 38-days.  He was never given a court appearance, although he requested that his jailers schedule him one, and even cited the relevant court rule putting the jailers on notice that he was required one.  Does the detainee have a cause of action under Sec. 1983/Substantive Due Process?  If so, under what circumstances are the relevant state actors liable?

A pre-appearance detainee has a claim under 1983/SDP.

First, the Due Process Clause forbids an extended detention, without a first appearance, following arrest by warrant.  *** Second, this Court considers whether the defendants' conduct offends the standards of substantive due process. Deliberate indifference to prisoner welfare may sufficiently shock the conscience to amount to a substantive due process violation. *** The third and final step in this substantive due process analysis is determining whether, in the totality of circumstances, the defendants' conduct in depriving Hayes of a constitutional right shocks the conscience.  This is a question of law. [Ed's note: Yeah, I know - How can a standard based on a judge's "conscience" be law?]

Id. at *4-6.

The County.

The County's policy was to submit the names of confinees to the court and then wait for the court to schedule a hearing. That policy attempts to delegate the responsibility of taking arrestees promptly before a court.  *** Because the County's policy here attempts to delegate the responsibility of bringing detainees to court for a first appearance and ignores the jail's authority for long-term confinement, the policy is deliberately indifferent to detainees' due process rights.

Id. at *5.

The Jailer.

Kelley helped promulgate and enforce the deliberately indifferent policy. Receiving Hayes's specific appearance grievance, Kelley made a conscious decision to do nothing. Kelley testified that he would have followed the same course of conduct even if Hayes were held for 99 days. While Hayes sat in the Center for 38 days, Kelley consciously disregarded the violation of his constitutional rights. That conscious disregard is deliberate indifference violating the standards of due process.

Id. at *5 (citation omitted).

The author of this opinion obviously knew what he or she was talking about and quickly disposed of the issues.  It is a nice refresher on the issues in a 1983 case, though.  Namely, prima facie case against individual; prima facie case against county; qualified immunity; attorneys' fees.