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Tuesday, April 16, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Class Says Sheriff Jails People Without Cause

MEMPHIS (CN) - A Tennessee sheriff routinely jails people for up to 2 days without charging them with a crime, and without probable cause to believe that they committed a crime, a class action claims in Federal Court. The named plaintiffs, a married couple, say Lauderdale County Sheriff Steve Sanders had them arrested at home after they attended an evening church service, and jailed them for more than 36 hours,

Paul and Raychel Rhodes say Sheriff Sanders' arrest and detention policy is unconstitutional.

The Rhodes say deputies arrested them in their home at 10:45 p.m. on Sunday, Jan. 17, and told them they were "being 'detained,' not arrested, for suspicion of burglary."

According to the complaint, a woman whom Mrs. Rhodes knew through her work in child support litigation had accused the Rhodes of breaking into her home and stealing her heart medication.

The Rhodes say they were "placed in solitary confinement in a small detention cell that smelled of urine, with a concrete slab for a bed and a steel toilet."

"Neither Mr. nor Mrs. Rhodes were charged with an offense, nor offered the opportunity to post bail," the complaint states.

The Rhodes said they had been at the Ripley Church of God during the alleged burglary and told the investigator that church services were videotaped if he needed proof. But they were not released until noon Tuesday, Jan. 19.

The Rhodes denounce as unconstitutional the sheriff's policy of "allowing forced arrest and detention of persons in Lauderdale County Jail for periods of up to 48 hours, without probable cause, in order to investigate possible crimes."

Numerous citizens have been jailed without reasonable cause, the Rhodes say.

They seek declaratory and injunctive relief.

They are represented by Robert Hutton with Glankler Brown.

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