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  • Legal Research

    I am looking for any legal cases on the two following topics:

    -Cases where agencies have been sued for failure to look for fugitives

    -Cases where defendants have charges dismissed solely because agencies took too long to find them after a warrant was issued

    I have been trying to research this myself, but I haven't had much luck yet. I seem to recall that a state, posssibly Minnesota, was successfully sued when a woman was killed by an assailant who had been released from prison on supervised release, violated the terms and conditions of release, and was a wanted fugitive. While on fugitive status he raped and killed a woman and the family filed suit and won a judgment becasue the state did not aggressively pursue the fugitive prior to the attack.

    On the second issue, I have heard recently that some defendants are having charges dismissed when, after being arrested on an old warrant, the defense counsel submits that the charging authority did nothing to apprehend the suspect and that case should be dismissed simply because the case is old. Our statute of limitations stops once someone is charged, but they do have to be charged within that timeframe.

    Thank you in advance for any helpful information on either of these issues.

  • #2
    Washington State has been successfully sued by victims of criminals who were under State supervision at the time of the incident. See http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/local/...onvicts02.html for an overview. I haven't read the cases but my impression is they are based on the State's failure to supervise rather than failure to arrest on warrants

    Washington case law provides for dismissal of charges where the prosecution, and by extention, law enforcement, does not exercise good faith and due dilligence in bringing the defendant before the court. Controlling cases are State v. Striker, 87 Wn.2d 870 and State v. Alexus, 91 Wn.2d 492.

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    • #3
      Legal Research

      Originally posted by Jim1648 View Post
      I am looking for any legal cases on the two following topics:

      -Cases where agencies have been sued for failure to look for fugitives

      -Cases where defendants have charges dismissed solely because agencies took too long to find them after a warrant was issued

      I have been trying to research this myself, but I haven't had much luck yet. I seem to recall that a state, posssibly Minnesota, was successfully sued when a woman was killed by an assailant who had been released from prison on supervised release, violated the terms and conditions of release, and was a wanted fugitive. While on fugitive status he raped and killed a woman and the family filed suit and won a judgment becasue the state did not aggressively pursue the fugitive prior to the attack.

      On the second issue, I have heard recently that some defendants are having charges dismissed when, after being arrested on an old warrant, the defense counsel submits that the charging authority did nothing to apprehend the suspect and that case should be dismissed simply because the case is old. Our statute of limitations stops once someone is charged, but they do have to be charged within that timeframe.

      Thank you in advance for any helpful information on either of these issues.
      Two part questions recieve two part answers. What follows will not qualify as bonifide legal research. That entails case citings, precedent, etc. A basic rule at "torts"(lawsuits) is that you can really sue anyone, for just about anything. Whether or not a case has merit is often a question for a jury. Certainly, there have been incidents where a state has been successfully sued in the instance you cited. It's also possible that the matter was settled out of court. If the plaintiff recovered in a settlement, then they recieved some satisfaction.

      Warrants present a somewhat different situation. Once a warrant is issued, it is essentially good "forever". This is somewhat different from a "statute of limitations" issue, where an information was not filed within the statuatory limits set forth for the crime. Once the statute has run, no further legal action can be taken. There are probably thousands of active warrants on file nationwide. As long as warrants were obtained within statuatory limits, they are valid. until such time as they can be executed. Certainly, in violent felony cases, an agency will often take extraordinary measures to locate a suspect and serve the warrant.

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      • #4
        Speedy Trial Issue

        The second issue has come up again today. Essentially a defendant is in our custody on a felony charge and the public defender has made a motion to dismiss on speedy trial grounds. I am hearing this from an investigator from one of the PDs in our county, but my understanding is that the basis for the motion is that law enforcement did nothing to locate the suspect once a warrant for his arrest was issued. Actually, in this case anyway, that is not correct, but I am wondering if anyone else has dealt with that issue. I guess the question in my mind is if anybody has guidelines anywhere dealing with this particular issue.

        Frankly, due to sheer numbers, most of our arrest warrants are simply entered into the computer and nobody is doing anything in an attempt to locate and apprehend the suspects. I think awhile back we were on a kick to work some of our old felony warrants, but all that really amounted to was running a check to see if any new addresses popped up in certain databases. I realize that most of our agencies do run short handed, but it would be nice if we were doing something more to at least locate our most serious felony fugitives.

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