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. “Lawyers claim to be able to understand medicine enough to sue for medical malpractice and engineering enough to be able to sue for patent infringement.”

    No, they don’t. They understand the law and have the ability to see when something looks like it may (or may not) run afoul of it. To confirm or deny this based upon technical issues, they rely upon experts in medicine, engineering or whatever field is at material issue with the case.

  2. Lawyers claim to be able to understand medicine enough to sue for medical malpractice and engineering enough to be able to sue for patent infringement. Lawyers don’t have records of having higher intelligence than doctors and engineers. So why wouldn’t an attorney, engineer, or accountant be able to research and understand law enough to make worthwhile observations or file a lawsuit?

    One problem with confining legal discussions to lawyers is that they have a financial incentive to claim that only lawyers can understand it. Another problem is that lawyers are usually treated very well by law enforcement so they don’t know what it is like to be grabbed, strip searched, and detained even though they did nothing wrong. A 3rd problem is that lawyers don’t like to criticize judges and can even lose their law license for criticizing judges. A 4th problem is that the going rate for legal services ($250 per hour) is now about 15 times the take home pay of most workers.

  3. Agreement is not required. The social compact is a fact whether you agree with it (or me). I am, however, dismayed you don’t understand the core principle in the theory of government and conflate it to the crime of slavery.

    Well. Perhaps “dismayed” is too strong a word.

    “Disappointed” about fits the bill though.

    1. worldpuppet is pretty funny, Gene. Does he not realize that before the rise of the rule of law, most of us were slaves (economically or actually).

  4. Darren,

    The right to express an opinion was never in question. The weight and validity of an opinion is and your last sentence recognizes that you know this. When I want to get my car fixed, I don’t rely on the diagnosis of a plumber or other amateur. While the plumber may know something about the technical workings of a car and may be right on occasion in diagnostics, he also might not have a clue as what he’s talking about. When it comes to legal systems, Brian doesn’t know what he is talking about any more than the people who argue the social compact doesn’t exist because it didn’t get their express consent.

  5. Gary,

    And unlike many countries, you are free to opt out of our social compact any time upon reaching the age of majority by renouncing your citizenship. Good luck on finding a country (other than places in a state of anarchy) where you won’t be entering into their social compact upon becoming a citizen there. Anywhere there is civilization of any scale, there is government and the social compact that underlies government.

  6. Darren,
    your opinion is worth as much as the rest of us. Of course, your 3 cent estimate might be correct! 🙂

  7. “the concept of a social contract is ridiculous.”

    Take it up with 300 years of jurisprudence. The governor’s ultimately rule at the consent of the governed as a matter of mathematics and the social compact – mutual benefit derived at the cost of absolute freedoms – is indeed the underpinning of every form of government ever and that will ever be, your incredulity aside.

    See this thread where a rather lengthy discussion about the social compact ensued.

    1. Well I continue to disagree with you… and I am dismayed that you appear to delight in being a slave.

  8. I am going to side with Mr.Harris ( Whom I would like to meet ). To Gene H. ==> the concept of a social contract is ridiculous. It is a smoke screen for mob behaviour. Mob behaviour sickens me. 99guspuppet

  9. Gene:
    A social compact is different than a social contract.
    A contract is something you knowing and voluntarily enter into, trading legal duties of obligation and enforceable expectations.
    A compact is where those duties are in place and enforceable, irrespective of whether they voluntarily entered.
    So, although I am legally obligated to follow the laws of the land, it doesn’t mean that I voluntarily agreed to those laws, and I have the moral right to disagree with them without contradicting myself.


    Not quite sure if you are supporting the non-attorney commenting or not.
    I guess you are.
    But I think the monopoly that lawyers have on lawyering, is as close to a prohibition on free speech and association that exists and is still accepted as enforceable.

    There are a lot of non-Esq. people out there who know the law better than lawyers, as is there are not.
    The law degree merely affirms that the person has gone through the prerequisite training for it.
    Not having one does not state that the person has no reliable knowledge or skill in that area.
    (Abeit, not having one does reduce the likelihood that that person does not know what he is talking about.)

    But conversation should not be curtailed on the possibility that the content is unreliable.

    There should be legally recognizable tests and exams available for anyone who claims an expert area of knowledge, but has no college degree to prove it.
    But that does not behoove the guilds that make their income from a very rigid structure of authentication and control.

  10. Gene

    I really didn’t finish my thought in the above comment. I must ask what does any person who is not an attorney have that makes them qualified to respond to legal structural issues on this blog? It is part of an open forum and most I would venture to say who comment here are not attorneys. So is it fair to exclude those who are not attorneys from making such comments on the basis of qualification?

    I do understand where you are coming from though.

  11. I’m just a businessman who was formerly a LEO. I have a degree (only an AAS) in Administration of Justice and a total of four years of higher education, mostly in accounting beyond the LE courses. Our adversarial system of justice is better, despite its flaws, in my view than the rest of the ones I have read about. Take my opinion for what it’s worth; which is three cents accounting for inflation.

  12. The jury is supposed to determine facts not the judge. Having a lawyer can be good, just like having a doctor but when one is not available or affordable people must do the best they can. 99% or 98% of the population can’t afford to file a lawyer done case in Federal Court, which Judge Kane states cost $100 K minimum.

    During the Jacksonian era there was wide distrust of lawyers and pro se litigants were routinely bringing their complaints before a jury, which apparently worked fine. Most of the civil complaints that pro se litigants have, workplace discrimination, First Amendment retaliation, local government corruption, etc., are not really that complicated or wouldn’t be if the defense counsel was truthful. There is no reason why the Courts can’t allow pro se litigants to process these complaints in accordance with the Rules of Civil Procedure. Even if some pro se litigants are inept, some of them aren’t. A few decades ago Robert Kerns won over $10 Million in patent violation claims while acting as his own attorney. Yet, there are absolutely no records of any pro se litigants winning any money in any federal court in recent years even though over 20,000 pro se civil complaints are filed in federal court every year. Apparently this is because of abuse of Rule 12(b)(6). Insurance defense lawyers claim affirmative defenses through motion instead of by answer so that facts aren’t admitted.

    Because pro se litigants aren’t allowed to win, and are subject to severe witness intimidation and witness retaliation, people aren’t filing lawsuits. The result of this is that the conditions and acts that should have resulted in a lawsuit continue and other people are hurt by them and people’s lives are really messed up. That is anarchy.

    One group of people who are not adequately represented in court are prisoners and ex-prisoners. Most people are not aware that public defenders won’t file habeas corpus motions and prisoners are usually unable to get representation when they are denied medical care. Brandon Moon is an example of an unsuccessful pro se litigant. He was released from jail after spending 18 years for a rape he didn’t commit because an attorney represented him. Previously he made the same argument that the lawyer made but he made no progress in getting released until he was one of the few prisoners who are able to get a lawyer. His argument was that the eye witness identification procedure was flawed because he was the only blue eyed white man in the lineup and 18 months lapsed between the rape and the line-up. The New York Times reported that Moon had filed many self-written documents in court making the same point but they were all denied.

    If the New Mexico man had filed a habeas corpus petition while he was imprisoned, what would have happened?

  13. None of which qualifies you to critique legal systems, their underlying mechanics or their validity.

    The social compact exists whether you agree with it or not and it is the foundation of all government. The adversarial legal process is a bulwark against the anarchy that self-help in dispute resolution invites and the only other alternative to self-help or an adversarial system is an inquisitorial system of dispute resolution where the judge acts as judge and prosecutor allowing them to determine facts without challenge.

    Seriously, you don’t have a clue as to what you are talking about in re legal systems.

    Your “thesis” is an invitation to anarchy and ignorant at its core as to the nature of society and laws.

    To be clear, you’re free to say what you like. And I’m free to call it gibberish. If that presents a problem for you, read the 1st Amendment, not that you’d understand it as demonstrated by your complete ignorance on the matter of law and society.

  14. RE:
    1, March 8, 2013 at 9:48 am
    Attorneys in general make money from the legal services industry and act as if the Courts should be run to benefit the legal services industry. It is well documented that U.S. Courts has unpublished rules for pro se litigants and deprives them of the procedure that is written. This violates the Rules Enabling Act. Lawyers, the ABA, and DOJ defend this obstruction of justice through their silence.


    Can a better example of conflict of interest ever be found?

  15. What is, or is not, deemed “gibberish nonsense” may be a property of the life experiences of the deemer.

    What demonstrably qualifies me for the work I do, in bioengineering, regarding human error and its human destructiveness consequences is being licensed by the State of Wisconsin as a Registered Professional Engineer in accord with the Code of Ethics of the National Society of Professional Engineers, of which I am a member, and having properly earned a Ph.D. in Bioengineering from the University of Illinois at Chicago with a doctoral thesis and dissertation the science of which undermines the biological validity of the Adversarial System in its present form, whereby it is mistakenly asserted by a substantial segment of the legal industry, in contravention of readily demonstrated biological fact, that avoidable accidents happen.

    Alas, from a bioengineering perspective, the belief that avoidable accidents happen is itself, in terms of human social evolution, until recently, itself an unavoidable accident.

    Tort liability, as a legitimate construct, violates the so-called law of non-contradiction, by stating that an un-avoided accident was avoidable when the actual situation in which the un-avoided accident happened did not contain the actual means of avoiding the accident, which is why the un-avoided accident was actually un-avoided.

    My dad, among other things, was a Carleton College Class of 1928 philosophy major who also had a biology minor. After graduating from Carleton, he went to the Chicago Theological Seminary, where he earned a B.D degree, after which he became a minister in the Congregational Christian Churches, and, later, in the United Church of Christ. His purpose in his ministry work was directed toward developing a scientific, biology-oriented understanding of religion as an aspect of human brain biology.

    My mother, having been valedictorian of her high school class, first studied nursing after completing high school, and then got her education degree from Valley City Teachers College, in North Dakota,and did graduate study at the University of North Dakota, in Grand Forks, then did high school teaching until my parents were married.

    After marriage, my mother chose to help my dad in his work by attending to their home, and, after my brother, and, about three years later, I was born, set out to home-school my brother and me so that public school was adjunct to home being home-schooled.

    I grew up in a family and home in which religion was deemed an aspect of human biology and therefore was a proper object of scientific scrutiny.

    It is my view, as a bioengineer, that “religion” is a useful name for human brain activity regarding what is too important to be ignored and is also not yet well-understood. “Religion,” in that sense, is what guides the realm of science toward what may merit scientific scrutiny and investigation.

    Given the recent Sandy Hook Elementary School murders, what causes human destructiveness seems to me to be a proper subject for scientific, biology-based scientific inquiry.

    I observe that the work of the Adversarial System of Law and Jurisprudence, regarding the Sandy Hook murders, is of a pattern similar to locking the barn door after the horse thieves have stolen the horses, burned the horse barn to the ground, and eaten the horse flesh for dinner. The biological trauma of the adversarial system, when coercively inflicted on innocent infants is what leads some infants to become horse thieves.

    The Adversarial System of Law and Jurisprudence is, as I am able to model it using the principles of system dynamics, the cause of the difficulties it portends to solve, thereby forming a vicious cycle of entailed entrapments.

    Perhaps many people who are interested in law and human society are too badly traumatized by adversarial processes to be capable of studying the neurobiology of trauma to anywhere approaching the extent that I have studied it.

    For those who can afford the time and effort to work toward a practicable resolution of human destructive violence, studying the work of those who have devoted their life work to such practicable resolution as an aspect of biological science would have some merit.

    Consider making the effort required for understanding the books of Alice Miller, such as “Breaking Down the Wall of Silence,” and, Robert Scaer,
    “The Body Bears the Burden” )both the first and second editions), and
    “The Trauma Spectrum,” and, Peter A Levine, Waking the Tiger: Healing Trauma,” and, when I am ready to publish my research (under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Free Culture License, to do all that I can to preclude privatization of the commons), I plan to include an extensively annotated bibliography.

    Mostly, however, what I find qualifies me beyond all else to critique the Adversarial System of Law and Jurisprudence is the catastrophic harm it has imposed, and attempted to impose, upon me and upon other profoundly autistic people who are functionally incapable of becoming sufficiently self-deceived as to accept the validity of the proposition that I find is the key to Adversarial Law, to wit, the tragically false belief that, had some event in the past been other than as it was, it would have somehow been better.

    Some people, perhaps as a form of epigenetic response, retaliate to violence with violence. Alas, I observe that retaliation only creates more ofd that which retaliation portends to erase. Furthermore, not all that unlike the late psychiatrist, Martin Cooperman, I find that reciprocal retaliation is not only a defeating process for a psychoanalytic dyad, it is an inextricably defeating process wherever it is put to use. And, I find that escalating reciprocal retaliation is an annihilating process. Don’t believe it? Ask the people who were vaporized at Hiroshima.

    When a member of the legal profession attempts to coerce me into believing that I have responsibilities, I shall reject that coercion in the absence of the tangible demonstration that the notion of responsibility is other than a stunningly brain-damaging psychotic delusion, so brain damaging that it seemingly has entrained most of the members of the legal profession within it.

    Because I disavow, and will continue to disavow, any and every responsibility ever assigned to me until someone actually demonstrates the actual happening of an actually-avoidable accident or mistake, I find that I only have response abilities, response abilities that only become evident as I respond to the actual events of my actual life.

    Consider the following hypothetical, one as absurd, at face value,as I can easily make it.

    “A baby was born two minutes ago, and the father, who is present during the birth, tells the baby, ‘I am hungry. Here is a recipe for an angel food cake with orange chiffon frosting. You have 90 minutes to make the cake and give it to me. If you don’t do as I have ordered you to do, I will kill you as your just punishment for failing to do as you were told.’ ”

    For every way to do something well, there may be a plethora of ways to do it poorly. If no way to do said something well has been found or developed or invented or otherwise come to fruition, doing something poorly will continue for as long as it takes to learn to do it other than poorly.

    Methinks that the Adversarial System is in the process of becoming its own most effective and efficient adversary.

  16. Attorneys in general make money from the legal services industry and act as if the Courts should be run to benefit the legal services industry. It is well documented that U.S. Courts has unpublished rules for pro se litigants and deprives them of the procedure that is written. This violates the Rules Enabling Act. Lawyers, the ABA, and DOJ defend this obstruction of justice through their silence.

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