The Orleans Parish Sheriff’s Office and Louisiana Department of Corrections failed to convince a federal judge to throw out a lawsuit filed last year by a man who was unconstitutionally held for A month after he was sentenced to time already served.
Rodney Grant filed a lawsuit against Sheriff Marlin Gusman, Department of Corrections Secretary James LeBlanc, and others in the departments, accusing them of violating his 14th Amendment rights by keeping him locked up when he was supposed to be released, reported NOLA.
The defendants tried to convince U.S. District Judge Nannette Brown to dismiss the lawsuit, saying they did not violate the law by keeping him imprisoned after he was supposed to be released.
The sheriff’s office claimed Grant failed to show it violated a clearly established constitutional right. The Department of Corrections said Grant failed to prove they violated any laws by keeping him imprisoned after he was supposed to be released.
In Judge Brown’s August 14 ruling, she disagreed, saying Grant’s claims “make it plausible” that the sheriff’s office and LeBlanc “engaged in a policy of unconstitutionally over-detaining persons and that policy was the driving force behind the alleged violation of plaintiff’s constitutional right.”
The lawsuit says Grant was arrested on an expired 15-year-old simple burglary warrant on June 27, 2016 while he was trying to get a driver’s license.
Three days later, he pleaded guilty to the 15-year-old crime and he received a one-year sentence with credit for the seven years he served at Dixon Correctional Institute for a different crime.
The lawsuit states Grant should have been set free because his time was served. Criminal District Judge Camille Buras, who sentenced him to the time already served, even contacted the sheriff’s office and requested they expedite Grant’s release.
Regardless of already serving his time and a judge’s request to expedite his release, Grant was held at the Orleans Parish Prison for a week and a half before being sent to the privately run Madison Parish Correctional Center in Tallulah.
On July 15, 2016, Buras was told by Grant’s friend Alred Marshall that Grant was still imprisoned. Buras then called Gusman and Warden Chris Stinson, and she vacated Grant’s sentence on July 18.
A week later, on July 25, Buras emailed 2 Department of Corrections employees to ask why Grant was still being held.
Grant was finally released on July 27, 2016.
Grant’s attorney, William Most, said, “Mr. Grant is fighting to hold the Sheriff and the DOC accountable for imprisoning hundreds or thousands of people past the end of their court-ordered sentences. Judge Brown’s decision ensures that Mr. Grant will have his day in court.”