Sheriff Clarke Loses Key Ruling
Judge won’t dismiss case on shackling of pregnant inmates in county jail.
A federal judge last week refused to dismiss a former inmate’s allegation that Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke and the county implemented an unconstitutional policy requiring that pregnant inmates be shackled while giving birth.
Clarke and the county had argued that the claim by the former inmate, identified as “Jane Doe” in court filings, should be dismissed because she did not exhaust all potential administrative remedies available to her before filing suit, as required by law.
“Defendants’ allegedly harmful shackling thus concluded upon the birth of her daughter, and so “[s]he had no opportunity to grieve [the shackling] until after the harm done by it was complete and could not be undone by the defendants,” Stadtmueller said in his opinion.
Doe filed suit in 2014, alleging that she was repeatedly sexually assaulted by Corrections Officer Xavier D. Thicklen while she was a County Jail inmate. Her shackling claim was added to the suit later. Doe originally sought class action status for that claim, but dropped the request in March.
The county has not disputed the claims.
The trial in the case is set for June 5.
Gretchen Schuldt writes a blog for Wisconsin Justice Initiative, whose mission is “To improve the quality of justice in Wisconsin by educating the public about legal issues and encouraging civic engagement in and debate about the judicial system and its operation.”