In January 2012, three Latino individuals filed suit in Washington state court against Kitsap County (WA) after an incident in which they had been confined by Kitsap County Sheriff's officers. The officers' actions, according to the complaint, resulted in the unlawful seizure, detention, and ...
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In January 2012, three Latino individuals filed suit in Washington state court against Kitsap County (WA) after an incident in which they had been confined by Kitsap County Sheriff's officers. The officers' actions, according to the complaint, resulted in the unlawful seizure, detention, and arrest of the plaintiffs. Plaintiffs were represented by private counsel and the ACLU of Washington.
Two years before the lawsuit was filed, the plaintiffs were returning from a shift gathering oysters when they were pulled over for driving with a defective headlight. This initial seizure, they alleged, was a pretext for the officers to stop and investigate them; no citation was issued for the defective headlight. The individual driving the car produced both his driver's license and a valid commercial fishing permit for their oyster-gathering. Nevertheless, the defendants ran a background check on the individuals in the car, though Plaintiffs had no outstanding warrants. The defendants then proceeded to question the plaintiffs about their immigration statuses, at which point they contacted U.S. Customs and Border Control, detaining Plaintiffs in their vehicle, under threat of arrest, until a Border Patrol agent arrived about an hour later.
The plaintiffs claimed the Sheriff's Officers had violated Article I, Section 7 of the Washington Constitution, which states, "No person shall be disturbed in his private affairs, or his home invaded, without authority of law." The defendants' actions, Plaintiffs stated, thus constituted a warrantless seizure of the Plaintiffs. The plaintiffs additionally alleged they had been subjected to false arrest at the hands of the defendants. Accordingly, in addition to damages, the plaintiffs requested a declaration that Defendants may not (1) enforce federal immigration law or (2) prolong a detention to interrogate individuals about their immigration statuses.
Defendants moved for entry of final judgment, and Plaintiffs for summary judgment. The Court (Judge Kathryn J. Nelson) denied Defendants' motion and granted Plaintiffs', finding them entitled to declaratory judgment as a matter of law. As Plaintiffs had requested, the Court held the defendants lacked authority both to enforce federal immigration law and to prolong a detention for the sake of questioning individuals about their immigration statuses and concluded the defendants violated Plaintiffs' rights under the Washington Constitution.David Postel - 04/08/2014