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State of Washington Settles Parolee’s Unlawful Detention Suit for $39,695.10

In February 2008, the state of Washington entered into a stipulated judgment to settle a lawsuit for damages filed in Pierce County Superior Court by Mark Stephen Rice. In settling the suit, which was filed in June 2007, the state of Washington paid Rice $30,000 plus costs and attorney’s fees totaling $9,695.10.

A first-time offender, Rice had pleaded guilty, in May 2006, to two counts of assault of a child in the third degree. The charges stemmed from Rice having slapped his step-daughter twice on an occasion when, in violation of house rules, she had stayed out all night, apparently with some young man. Rice was sentenced to standard conditions, which included a no-contact order prohibiting him from having contact with his step-daughter.

In September 2006, a review hearing was held to assess the extent of Rice’s compliance with the court’s previous directives. After the prosecutor conceded that Rice had in fact complied with the conditions of his sentencing, the court denied the request of the Department of Corrections that Rice submit to quarterly polygraphs. Despite the court order, Rice was subsequently arrested by community corrections officer Jenny Sheridan for failing to submit to a polygraph. Released, he was arrested again by Sheridan, and then released a second time.

Pressed for an explanation, the Department of Corrections initially indicated, falsely, that Rice was required to submit to a polygraph because his offense involved sexual contact with his step-daughter. Although it later offered a different explanation, the Department could not reconcile its actions with the September 2006 court order denying its request for quarterly polygraph tests.

Rice subsequently filed a § 1983 lawsuit alleging that he had been unlawfully detained, falsely imprisoned (for 18 days), and defamed, and that he had suffered emotional distress. In settling the suit, the state did not admit any liability. See: Rice v. State of Washington, Case No. 07-2-09131-4, Pierce County Superior Court.

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Related legal case

Rice v. State of Washington

Please see the brief bank for documents related to this case.