Settlement Reached in SD Over Unlawful Drug Tests
Thursday, September 17, 2020
RAPID CITY, S.D. -- A settlement tied to claims of unlawful drug tests issued by several South Dakota law-enforcement agencies has won approval in federal court.
The judge ruled more than $400,000 will be split among those who were the subject of forced catheterizations after they were suspected of being drug users. In April, the judge ruled those tests violated the Fourth Amendment.
Jim Leach, an attorney in Rapid City, worked with the American Civil Liberties Union of South Dakota on the case on behalf of the individuals.
He said there was little question these people had used drugs, but that doesn't mean the actions of police were justified.
"What it gets to is a point in constitutional law that says that police cannot use every possible method to obtain criminal evidence in a case," Leach said.
The agencies named in the lawsuit were police departments in Pierre, Sisseton and Wagner, as well as the South Dakota Highway Patrol.
South Dakota is the only state where ingesting a controlled substance is considered a felony.
Activists say cases such as this underscore the need for the state to adopt criminal-justice reform.
Supporters of that approach hope South Dakota takes a step forward if voters approve a ballot measure this November that would legalize marijuana for those 21 and older.
Meanwhile, Leach said for his clients, the aggressive tactics may have resulted in a settlement, but the emotional scars will linger.
"They all have problems, afterwards, from it," Leach said. "And they're pleased, mainly, that this is never likely to happen to anyone again."
In these situations, police obtained search warrants for urine samples to detect the presence of drugs.
None of those warrants specifically authorized forced catheterization as a means of obtaining evidence.
get more stories like this via email
North Dakota's farming landscape is seeing policy shifts dealing with corporate ownership of agricultural interests. Now, there's fresh debate at the …
Advocates for unpaid family caregivers in Maine say they'll need continued support beyond the recently passed paid family and medical leave program…
The Students for Justice in Palestine chapters at the University of Florida and the University of South Florida are filing lawsuits against the deacti…
A new report from WGU Labs, a nonprofit affiliate of Western Governors University based in Millcreek, Utah, is shedding light on the importance of …
Many older residents of Washington state are facing strains on their budgets -- and the government programs that could assist them are underused…
Bloomington and Indianapolis are getting some international recognition for the work they're doing to help the environment. The two have been named …
Health and Wellness
New Mexico activists are tapping today's World AIDS Day, Dec. 1, to announce they'll ask the State Legislature to provide more money for treatment …
Bipartisan legislation that proposes the installation of solar panels in schools across Pennsylvania awaits a vote in the state Senate. The Solar …