May 6th, 2010 By | News | Posted In: Courts, Police, Human Rights

Sheriff Settles Suit for $30,000

It seems Hamilton County Sheriff Simon Leis Jr. doesn’t like speaking under oath in a court of law, and wants taxpayers to pay to help him avoid it.

The Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office has agreed to settle a federal lawsuit filed by a former Justice Center inmate over an August 2007 incident in which he was shot three times by a pepperball gun at point blank range while already incapacitated.

The settlement was offered after a three-judge panel rejected Leis’ claim in early 2009 that he had qualified immunity and couldn’t be forced to testify in the lawsuit, and later rejected motions to dismiss the case.

On Aug. 10, 2007, Hamilton County Sheriff’s deputies forcibly removed inmate Michael Jackson from his cell and placed him in a restraint chair. Jackson had caused a disturbance earlier and got mouthy with the corrections officer, Sgt. Michelle Moore. After he was restrained, Jackson, who is white, used a racial epithet against Moore, who is African-American.

The lawsuit alleges Moore violated Jackson’s civil rights and used excessive force in the incident and that Leis condoned the action, which violates the inmate’s right against cruel and unusual punishment. Three of Moore’s supervisors who had watched a videotape of the altercation concluded Moore used excessive force and should be penalized by attending three counseling sessions, but Leis overturned their decision and didn’t impose a penalty against Moore, prompting the lawsuit.

A videotape of the incident taken from jail cameras has been posted on YouTube.

Moore’s use of the pepperball launcher was “gratuitous and cruel,” according to Al Gerhardstein Jr., Jackson’s attorney.

“Through cases like this, government is held accountable for abuses of power,” Gerhardstein said. “Hopefully, this settlement will cause Hamilton County, Ohio, deputies to respect the rights of inmates in their custody.”

The corrections officer, Moore, can regularly be seen going about her duties in some episodes of a reality TV show called Inside American Jail in syndication and simply Jail on the TruTV cable network.

Some police reform advocates have said one of the best methods for limiting misconduct is to require law enforcement agencies to have their subsequent annual budget reduced by the amount it pays out in lawsuits.

That seems like a reasonable suggestion, and one we urge Hamilton County commissioners to pursue later this year.

05.09.2010 at 05:36 Reply
Sheriff Leis seems to be as ignorant of prisoner rights as Butler County Sheriff Jones who cost Butler County a hundred thousand dollar settlement for wrongful detention of an Hispanic. Jones also wants to copy Arizona's Ilegal Immigrant law, a law seriously deficient in constitutional protections for Hispanic aliens. Note that AZ SB2162 allows indefinite detention after an arrest on "reasonable suspicion" that a person is an illegal alien. The law allows arrest on that suspicion and the person remains in jail until his or her legal status is confirmed. How that confirmation is made is unclear as is the standard for "reasonable suspicion. Meanwhile, the burden of proof of guilt is transferred to the person arrested, thus violating the person's right of due process under the fourteenth Amendment, and violating the person's right against illegal seizure. The statute prohibits race from being determative of suspicion. But it seems unlikely that an Australian accent of a white person would create suspicion. In other words, shabby shoes perhaps? It seems unllkely that anyone other than an HIspanic would come under suspicion. If race cannot be the factor, probably Hispanic accent or speaking Spanish would do. The effect--racial profiling is --is probable. And, let's note that the Arizona law gives immunity against false arrest and imprisonment. So, unlike the Ohio Hispanic who won against Jones, an Arizona Hispanic is deprived of that recourse. The Arizona law is filled with constitutional violations, including the right to solicit work--a First Amendment right--even though the Arizona laws does not prohibit illegal aliens from actually working (and guess why not?). So, Ohio folks who might want Ohio to copy Arizona should take a look at that Arizona illegal immigration statute. Unless, of course, like Sheriff Leis and Sheriff Jones, they really don't care about civil rights as long as they can harrass Hispanics. William E. Hanks, Covington, KY


10.31.2010 at 12:21 Reply
Illegal aliens are not afforded rights by the Constitution. Only CITIZENS are protected by the Constitution.