Counties sued over inmate who waited 52 days to see judge - KOAA.com | Continuous News | Colorado Springs and Pueblo

Counties sued over inmate who waited 52 days to see judge

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Michael Bailey is seeking punitive damages after being held in jail for 52 days before appearing before a judge Michael Bailey is seeking punitive damages after being held in jail for 52 days before appearing before a judge

A Colorado man is suing both Pueblo and Teller Counties claiming they violated his civil rights by keeping him in jail for nearly two months before he finally got to see a judge.  Michael Bailey was arrested back in September of 2015 by deputies with the Teller County Sheriff's Office on an open warrant out of Pueblo County.

He spent 45 days in the Teller County Jail and an additional week behind bars in Pueblo before making his first court appearance.  So much time had passed that the judge reportedly said, "He should have been advised, it's an old enough case. How is this a first appearance?"

The Pueblo District Attorney's Office ultimately dropped all charges against Bailey. However, his lawyers from the American Civil Liberties Union and the private law firm Killmer Lane & Newman told the court the prolonged jail stay cost Bailey his job and wages.

In the civil rights complaint, Bailey's lawyers point out that criminal defendants are entitled to a prompt first appearance under the Due Process Clause of the US Constitution and they have a right to have bail set under the Colorado Constitution.  They also believe the Teller County Sheriff's Office had a duty under the Colorado Rules of Criminal Procedure to bring Mr. Bailey "without unnecessary delay to the nearest available county court" to make that first appearance.

Instead, they claim the sheriff's office simply sent a routine message via the Colorado Crime Information Center (CCIC) requesting that deputies from the Pueblo County Sheriff's Office come pick him up.  When the message had gone unanswered for a month, Teller County sent a second CCIC request for transfer.

"The Teller County Defendants delegated all responsibility to bring Mr. Bailey before a judge for a prompt first appearance and bail setting to the Pueblo County Sheriff's Office," they wrote in their complaint.

The attorneys also believe Pueblo County is responsible because the deputy in charge of transportation didn't have a policy in place to regularly check the CCIC computer messages.  

"Pueblo County had the authority, ability, and responsibility to cause Mr. Bailey to be brought to court for a first appearance far more promptly than he was," the complaint reads.

The Pueblo County dispatcher who responded to the arresting officer confirming that Bailey had an open warrant is also named as a defendant. Bailey's lawyers claim she knew their client was stuck behind bars but never told her supervisors.

"For years, the ACLU of Colorado has been receiving complaints of defendants languishing in jail on warrants from other counties for 10 days or more, with no opportunity to see a judge," said Rebecca Wallace, staff attorney for the ACLU of Colorado. "This failure not only violates defendants' constitutional rights, it also contributes to the problem of over-incarceration and jail overcrowding that plagues Colorado."

The lawsuit seeks damages for the economic losses Mr. Bailey suffered as a result of his confinement. It also seeks punitive damages for his treatment by the two counties during his incarceration.

Attorney Gordon Vaughan is representing all of the defendants in the suit. He said they are still in the early stages of reviewing and considering the complaint and are working to formulate an appropriate response.

The judge in the case gave the counties a deadline of February 6, 2018, to file that legal response. Both sides are scheduled to meet in court for a scheduling conference in early March.

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