[Hpn] Homeless woman SUES Oklahoma County over illegal jailing (fwd)

Tom Boland wgcp@earthlink.net
Wed, 7 Feb 2001 07:54:57 -0800 (PST)

http://www.oklahoman.com/cgi-bin/show_article?ID=634882&pic=none&TP=getarticle FWD Oklahoman / 2001-02-07 HOMELESS WOMAN SUES COUNTY AFTER STAY IN JAIL By Diana Baldwin - Staff Writer A homeless woman whom a judge ruled had been held illegally in the Oklahoma County jail filed a federal lawsuit Tuesday against the county commissioners and Sheriff John Whetsel. Chris Ann Knudsen, 40, claims her constitutional rights were violated when she was in custody for 3 weeks without formal charges being filed, Kingfisher attorney Daniel Stake said. She was released last week. In addition to asking for more than $1 million in damages, Stake wants a permanent injunction forcing Oklahoma County to change policies and procedures so other inmates' rights will not be violated. Stake said other defendants and released inmates may be added to the lawsuit. Knudsen's release came during an eight-day period in which at least 75 other inmates were ordered released after spending 14 days or more in jail without state criminal charges being filed. The 14-day release policy has been in place for seven years. Bob Ravitz, a public defender, is campaigning for the court to adopt a rule that would allow inmates to be held only five days without charges. Presiding Administrative Judge Niles Jackson, First Assistant District Attorney John Jacobsen and Ravitz are expected to meet this week. "We are working with the public defender and the district attorney to find out if a problem exists and where it is and resolve it as quickly as we can," Jackson said. District Judge Jerry Bass ruled Jan. 30 that Knudsen was held illegally and ordered her immediate release. "The system failed my client miserably and it set me on fire," Stake said. "Frankly, I think Chris Ann Knudsen is the tip of the iceberg. Her situation is simply an indicator of a much larger problem." Jacobsen, legal adviser for the county, refused to comment on the lawsuit. "Not having seen the lawsuit, we have no comment on that," Jacobsen said. "We'll respond accordingly to the deadlines imposed by the court." Knudsen was arrested without a warrant on Jan. 6 by Oklahoma City police on drug complaints. Charges were filed Jan. 25 in Canadian County because she was arrested in the Oklahoma City limits inside Canadian County. Bass said a warrant for Knudsen's arrest was never issued. Oklahoma City Police Capt. Jessica Cummins said part of the delay resulted when Knudsen's paperwork was taken first to Oklahoma County and approved by an assistant district attorney before officials discovered the charges should be filed in Canadian County. "It was a human error and not an intentional deal," Cummins said. "There also was a delay from our detectives taking the information to Canadian County and charges actually being formally filed." Stake said he tried to resolve the matter informally by going to the Oklahoma County district attorney's office. "They said if I had trouble with the way a client was treated in the Oklahoma County Detention Center, sue us. I didn't just go down and file this lawsuit without trying to resolve it. They basically invited me to sue them." END FORWARD **In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. section 107, this material is distributed without charge or profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving this type of information for non-profit research and educational purposes only.** Visit HPN for CONSTANTLY UPDATING NEWS on Homeless People: *************************************************************** Over 10,000 articles by or via homeless & ex-homeless people Been Homeless? Then JOIN! EMAIL Tom Boland <wgcp@earthlink.net> Nothing About Us Without Us - Democratize Public Policy ***************************************************************