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Rhode Island Prisoner Awarded $3,900 for False Imprisonment

A Rhode Island jury awarded a prisoner $3,900 for false imprisonment on April 21, 2004. In August 1994, William Ross was incarcerated and held by the Rhode Island Department of Corrections (RIDOC) on a minor larceny charge.

During his incarceration, the State of Oklahoma issued a warrant for his arrest stemming from probation violations in that state. Ross was taken to court and his Rhode Island charges were disposed of based upon the Oklahoma warrant, the judge remanded Ross back to RIDOC’s custody. The judge, however, did not directly articulate the reason for remanding Ross back to jail. On the remand order there was a written note. It was disputed at trial if this notation was made by the judge.

Ross continued to be incarcerated from early August 1994 through September 27, 1994, for a charge of fugitive from justice. He remained held by RIDOC until late November, 1994, when Oklahoma officials retrieved him. Once in Oklahoma, Ross was sentenced to time served.

Ross claimed in his lawsuit that he was unlawfully held for 40 days on a remand order with no reason given to justify his detention after the Rhode Island charges were disposed of. He sought emotional distress damages for wrongful incarceration. After deliberating for 2½ hours, the jury entered a verdict in Ross’s favor and awarded him $3,900. See: Ross v. Rhode Island Department of Correction, Rhode Island Superior Court, Providence and Bristol Counties, Case No. PC19971664.

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Related legal case

Ross v. Rhode Island Department of Correction

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