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Due Process Triggered by Seizure from Home to Prison Confinement

In affirming a grant of summary judgment on qualified immunity grounds, The Sixth Circuit Court of appeals held that for purposes of due process and unreasonable seizure protections, home confinement differs materially from in prison confinement.  Because that right was not clearly established at the time of the events, the matter was affirmed.

Richard Ortega, a U.S. citizen, began on March 18, 2011, serving an eleven day sentence of home confinement for driving while under the influence.  Shortly thereafter, immigration agent John Cloyed issued a federal detainer informing Louisville Metro Department of Corrections officials that federal officials were investigating whether Ortega entered the country illegally.

Officers Lori Eppler and William Skaggs took Ortega into custody based on the detainer on March 19.  He remained jailed until March 22 and sued for violation of his civil rights.  The district court dismissed his claims on qualified immunity grounds.

The Sixth Circuit held the marked disparities between individual liberty in the home confinement setting as opposed to the prison setting trigger due process that was deprived Ortega.  At the time, case law, however, did not “establish moving a convict from home confinement to prison confinement resulted in a new seizure within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment.”

As such, the district court’s order was affirmed.  See: Ortega v. U.S. Immigration & Customs Enforcement Agency, Case No 12-6608 (6th Cir. 2013).

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Related legal case

Ortega v. U.S. Immigration & Customs Enforcement Agency