Archuleta v. Wagner

Criminal Justice | Privacy & Technology
Case No. No. 06cv2061, United States District Court, District of Colorado
ACLU Case No. 2005-11


The ACLU filed this lawsuit on behalf of Mercedes Archuleta, who was falsely arrested, strip-searched, and jailed on the basis of a groundless and wrongfully-obtained arrest warrant that accused her of a Lakewood ordinance violation with which she had no connection whatsoever.

The complaint asserts that a Lakewood detective reviewed reports written by patrol officers about an incident that violated Lakewood’s harassment ordinance. The victim stated that the perpetrator’s name was “Mercedes Archuleta,” but she provided almost no additional information. A woman who matched the suspect’s general description is listed in the state’s criminal database as sometimes using that name. Instead of pursuing that lead, however, the detective instead located the name of the ACLU’s client—who had no criminal record and had never been arrested—in a database of motor vehicle records. The detective, who is named as a defendant in the lawsuit, then obtained a warrant to arrest the ACLU’s client.

A state trooper found the erroneous warrant months later, when he stopped Ms. Archuleta’s husband for a minor traffic violation. The state trooper is named as a defendant for his alleged mistreatment of Ms. Archuleta during the arrest and transport to the Jefferson County Jail. Additional defendants are the jail employee who booked Ms. Archuleta and conducted the strip search, as well as the Jefferson County Sheriff, who is responsible for the strip search policy that the ACLU contends is overly broad and violates the privacy rights of detainees.

“Nursing Mom Arrested In Case Of Mistaken Identity; Sloppy Detective Work Implicates Wrong Woman,” Channel 7 News, Aug. 25, 2005


Andrew Kelley
Mark Silverstein , ACLU of Colorado Legal Director
Taylor Pendergrass , ACLU of Colorado Staff Attorney
Timothy MacDonald

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