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Probationer improperly jailed is allowed to sue

Edward Drogosch was having a beer in front of the TV when the MDOC and Wayne County Sheriff knocked on his door as part of "Operation SPOTCHECK", looking for probationers violating their terms.  Officers found nothing amiss--even checking for porn on his computer--but he did direct them to an unloaded, registered, trigger-locked handgun in his drawer.  The officers violated him, even though neither his drinking nor his handgun violated the terms of his probation (his full sentence was no jail time and one year probation); they refused to read the terms of the documents he provided them.  Then he was incarcerated as a parole violator, because the proper form couldn't be located, and did not see a judge for 13 days (because parole violators, unlike probation violators, aren't entitled to a prompt hearing).

Drogosch sued under 42 USC 1983, claiming a violation of his constitutional rights.  Everyone was dismissed from the suit except Timothy Metcalf, who had chosen to violate him as a parolee when he couldn't locate the proper form.  Metcalf sought dismissal and appealed his denial.  The Sixth Circuit agreed with the lower court that Metcalf had knowingly violated a well established right and could not avail himself of the defense that he had acted in an emergency.  The court also noted that as the arresting officer, Metcalf owed a statutory duty to bring Drogosch before a judge promptly, and this duty was not satisfied by simply notifying Drogosch's probation officer of the arrest.

Thompson O’Neil, P.C.
309 East Front Street
Traverse City, Michigan 49684
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