New Mexico Man Held 22 Months Without Trial Is Awarded $15.5 Million

120125-dui-hmed-10a.photoblog600Dona Ana County in New Mexico has agreed to pay Stephen Slevin, 59, $15.5 million after it kept Slevin in solitary confinement for 22 months without a trial for a DUI arrest. The horrific case was made worse by years of litigation by the county, which refused to pay a court verdict that was originally $22 million. One of the most disturbing facts of this case however is that not a single county employee was fired over his grotesque treatment, which included the denial of necessary medical attention.

Slevin was arrested for DUI in August of 2005. He was leaving New Mexico and driving across the country. He had been depressed and his friend loaned him the car. He ended up being put in a padded cell because he was viewed as suicidal. However, after three days for no known reason, he was transferred to solitary confinement where he languished from 2005 to 2007. While there he was denied medical attention and had to pull his own tooth for lack of a dentist. Fungus covered parts of his skin because he was denied showers. He was not allowed out many days for an hour as required for people in solitary confinement. His mental state deteriorated rapidly.

When he was released he was dying from cancer. However, he has beaten predictions of his death despite the county prolonging the litigation and fighting every effort for relief in the courts. Even after a jury awarded him $22 million, the county continued litigation. It was only after a court mediation that it agreed to pay him $15.5 million — a record settlement.

What is truly astonishing is that, despite the horrific and inhumane treatment of this man, not a single county employee will be fired. Indeed, there does not appear to be any backlash for the prison officials and attorneys that contributed to this nightmare in Dona Ana County.

Source: NBC

75 thoughts on “New Mexico Man Held 22 Months Without Trial Is Awarded $15.5 Million”

  1. What on Earth qualifies you to critique – let alone attempt to undermine the foundations of – not just a specific legal system but legal systems in general?

    Just wondering . . . mainly because you’re talking gibberish nonsense vis a vis the existence of the social compact and the necessity of adversarial process as a dispute resolution mechanism in maintaining justice and order in a society.

  2. Gene H.

    Sorry. My undergraduate degree is in bioengineering, as is my doctorate.

    Bioengineering includes aspects of electrical engineering; a graduate school course work area of concentration for me was hospital instrumentation, and I am a Life Member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers.

    I am also a member of the Institute of Biological Engineering.

    What, on earth, or anywhere else, qualifies you to critique my work as a professional engineer? Wisconsin adopted a form of the Daubert standard in February, 2011.

    Just wondering…

  3. Typo correction:

    My prior post final sentence may better be put:

    It is impossible for me to tolerate the Adversarial System of Law and Jurisprudence, impossible for me to tolerate due to the simple fact, as I observe it, of its stipulating that actually-impossible things are mandatory.

  4. Kay Sieverding:

    I am apparently a “no one” because I do care about you, about whether you live or die (in biological terms, is the process of living separable from the process of dying?), and I do care about prisoners.

    Who, now living, is, in one way or another, other than a prisoner, knowingly or unknowingly, willingly or unwillingly, of the present state of human social evolution?

    I do not tolerate bullying; therefore, I tolerate bullies because not tolerating bullies is a form of bullying.

    Because I do not tolerate bullying, I do not tolerate authoritarianism of any sort whatsoever, therefore, I do not tolerate the rule of law.

    My inborn and innate, socially-untouched conscience rules out my tolerating the rule of law because I cannot distinguish the rule of adversarial law from the cruel of adversarial law.

    I cannot “believe in,” nor can I “tolerate,” the Adversarial System of Law and Jurisprudence because its very essence constitutes an intractable violation of my inborn conscience. Why so? Because, without exception during my life, the Adversarial System of Law and Jurisprudence continually imposes upon me an obligation to do what I find to be impossible things.

    There is one particular legal maxim that I find not only tolerable but also deem to be plausibly meritorious.

    Impossibilium nulla obligatio est.

    To me, “the impossible” is simply that which does not happen as it does not happen.

    It is impossible for me to tolerate the Adversarial System of Law and Jurisprudence, impossible for me due to tolerate for the simple fact of its stipulating that impossible things are mandatory.

  5. Perhaps my personal experience is of a very rare form. I have never, to the best of my recall, never ever found a particular anything except when actually “looked” where the particular anything actually was located.

    I have never accepted the “rule of law” as being, in any way whatsoever, a valid “social contract” at any time during my life. My life has incessantly been guided by the primacy of conscience, and I find that no rule of law, no self-proclaimed, or socially-proclaimed authority, has ever been able to reach the conscience with which I was born in May, 1939.

    After the following verbal hiatus, I will state, as best I am able, the nature, in terms of form and function, of what i experience as my innate, inborn, and socially-uncorrupted conscience.

    It is my best guess that every baby is born with some variation on the conscience which I have successfully retained for more than seven decades of sometimes-shattering abuse by people whose inborn conscience was so damaged or destroyed by the social contract rule of law as to render an apparent majority of people functionally insensate to to the most devastating form of culturally-mandated child abuse that I have yet been able to identify and study. That form of child abuse is the essence of the traditional, though not universal, social development “stage” that has been called “the infant-child transition.”

    Born in May of 1939 (a matter of public record), I was learning to associate sounds (words, that is) with meanings during 1940, while what was to become World War II was becoming increasingly violent.

    Human destructive violence has always intrigued me, and, were there to be anything that could qualify as “my life work” it is my best hunch that finding what causes, and finding what will allow preventing, human destructive violence, are the essence of my avowed life purpose, to whatever extent such a purpose is a feasible activity.

    My study of the history of human societies informs me that human destructive violence may be a core human social developmental enigma when viewed from the perspective of public safety. Said study also informs me that the absence of an effective remedy for human destructive violence may be an indicator human society not yet having become fully capable of adequately “looking” where the causal process of human destructive violence is actually located.

    I find that the traditional infant-child transition of, typically, about 18 months of age, is actually a devastatingly traumatic (brain-damaging) event of such severity as to render an apparent majority of people incapable of accurately remembering their life prior to transitioning from infancy to childhood.

    I have asked many (thousands) of people three “childish” questions as an aspect of my work as a Wisconsin Registered Professional Engineer in Private Practice, using biological pattern recognition methods to unriddle the biology of human destructiveness. Those three questions are basically, “1. Ever make mistakes?” 2. “Ever make a mistake you shouldn’t have ,made?” 3. “Ever make a mistake you could have avoided?”

    I have never found anyone who has been able to truthfully describe any actually avoidable accident or mistake that actually happened.

    Perhaps I can restate that with more jargon? My lifelong experience is: The actual set of all actually avoidable accidents and/or mistakes which have ever actually occurred is the empty set.

    The word, “actually” is repeated to emphasize that my work is not based on hypotheticals that are actual impossibilities. I find that the process of coercive authoritarian indoctrination that appears to me to be necessary for anyone to believe in “the rule of law” is based on a misunderstanding about the biology of learning that far predates Aristotelian physics, and so is, as best I can discern, profoundly bereft of biological-science validity.

    Also, to me, the meme of the rule of law, in its Anglo-American adversarial form, is catastrophically contagious and atrociously addictive, and is especially so to such extent as the essence of addiction is psychological displacement.

    So, how can the way my conscience works be put into useful words? Could the following be an adequate verbal descriptor?

    My conscience, fully present and functional in my life before I was born in May, 1939, works in the following manner:

    If it is helpful, it is right. If it is right, it is helpful. If it is hurtful, it is wrong. If it is wrong, it is hurtful. In a world of creativity and/or evolution, it is helpful to learn what is hurtful when unfamiliar events happen. Every event has aspects that are unfamiliar prior to the event, if only because the event has yet to happen. The only hurtful events which actually happen are event of form and function not yet sufficiently well understood to have become avoidable. Therefore, actual wrongdoing is a biological impossibility.

    It is not wrong to falsely convict, or imprison, or otherwise damage a person in accord with adversarial law because such false conviction or imprisonment is (apparently?) the achievable pathway for learning that the basis of adversarial law and jurisprudence is a misunderstanding, of seemingly pre-recorded-history origin, about the properties of misunderstandings.

    Perhaps it would be useful were all law schools to include, as required reading, Susan Sontag’s “Illness as Metaphor” (I have the June, 1979, First Vintage Books Edition) and then evaluate how well the Anglo-American Adversarial System of Law and Jurisprudence fits the metaphor of illness.

    Until someone actually demonstrates that an avoidable accident or mistake is an actual possibility, and I have never encountered any such demonstration, I shall harbor the notion that belief in avoidable accidents or mistakes actually happening is an aspect of a biologically delusional, severely brain damaging. hypothetical social contract that is an actual existential impossibility.

    Absent any demonstration of significant error in my ways of being alive, I shall live in accord with that which I observe to be true, to wit:

    “No mistake ever made either could or should have been avoided, and this is true regardless of the nature of the mistake made or its consequences. because whatever happens, as it happens, is inescapably necessary and sufficient.”

  6. I wrote to county commissioners in this county about this and all the reply I got was that it was the county judicial lawyer and third district judge’s fault. Every one of those commissioners should be thrown out. I would be pissed if I lived in that county. But I wonder, is there a prohibition in New Mexico from releasing cops/law enforcement/jailers names and the disclipine they received? There are these kinds of laws in many states.

  7. Who cares about prisoners? I pled that I was an MIT grad who was imprisoned without a criminal charge and denied access to law library and denied a lawyer. Everyone ridiculed me, or almost everyone, and no one cared about me. So should someone who didn’t care about me care about someone else just because they had less education? In this country all people seem to care about is their own financial condition….. I’ve been on this blog for years and no one cares if I live or die …. I was just as abandoned as this guy ….left without a lawyer or a doctor….left with the wish by officials that I would die… and it is true that when I was free I didn’t care about prisoners because I thought I would never be a prisoner….

  8. This whole thing just totally sickens me. This poor man, thrown in there, tortured and left to just rot. I can’t even imagine; this man was at the point where he had to PULL HIS OWN TOOTH. This is just totally sickening. Abandoned, got cancer, nobody cared. And still nobody cares. The people responsible drink and dance the night away. THEY don’t have to pay it. The 15 million doesn’t come from anyone’s paycheck who is responsible.


  9. raff,

    “Republicans never use that particular part of the tax code.”

    Sure they do. They want to check if damages paid are a deduction. 😉

  10. Oro Lee,
    Of course it is the Dems who want personal injury damages to not be taxable income! Republicans never use that particular part of the tax code.

  11. “Personal injury damages are not taxable. Funny how Dems want to tax EVERYTHING except personal injury damages!”

    Income, for tax purposes, is defined as accretion of wealth. Personal injury damages (we all know that “damages” is a legal term which means the value of the amount of loss resulting from and injury, right?). It is to make up for has been lost; ergo, there is no accretion of wealth).

    To the extent the damages award represent loss of income and loss or earning power, those amounts are taxable. Any amount representing punitive damages will also be taxable. The amounts representing pain and suffering including mental anguish, loss of freedom,temporary and permanent physical impairment are not.

  12. Lots of people have claims for malicious prosecution, defamation etc. but no one succeeds in these claims unless they have an attorney.

    Here is a link to testimony that Federal Courts have a system for not allowing pro se documents to be filed:

    In my case the Federal Court also wouldn’t allow documents to be filed and I have emails from two different court clerks acknowledging this unpublished procedure.

  13. Unreal! I am glad that this victim made the county pay dearly for their intentional and repeated abuses. I would hope that criminal charges could be pursued against the county officials and corrections officers.

  14. Sounds to me like the DA wasn’t involved in this case. Slevin was picked up by cops and put in the jail and left there. Entirely possible that the cops neglected to let the DA know.

  15. GaryT, You are correct. Personal injury damages are not taxable. Funny how Dems want to tax EVERYTHING except personal injury damages!

  16. NativeNM

    Not mentioned in the piece, bit perhaps worthy of note, is that the Dona Ana County District Attorney at the time was none other than current New Mexico Governor and GOP rising star Susana Martinez, who went from Dona Ana DA to the Governor’s mansion.


    Ah … now the fight in court begins to make sense. Susana Martinez is the republican version of Carmen Ortiz

  17. There probably is probable cause to prosecute the jail officials under Section 242 or 241 but when I asked DOJ to prosecute the people who put me in jail with no trial, no criminal charge, no evidentiary hearing, no sentence, and no bail hearing and held me on indefinite detention without access to a lawyer or a law library, DOJ simply refused to communicate with me.

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