Thursday, July 07, 2005

Sue the bastards!

I didn't know that things like this were permitted, but apparently they are. As reported over the last couple of days, last week a New Jersey woman named Claudia Santana was taken from her home by bounty hunters who had mistakenly identified her as a fugitive named Claudia Patricia Rincon, who was wanted for embezzlement of $69,000 and had jumped bail. Mrs. Santana is a law-abiding married mother of two who had never been in trouble with the law before. Worse, she even called the local police for help, and, rather than either clearing or arresting her themselves, the police sided with the bounty hunters! The account:
She says she showed them all her identification, which they took. Then, she called 911 and Rutherford police responded. Outside one of the men showed an officer that same blurry photo.

Claudia Santana, Victim: "He showed it to him and the police officer said, 'oh yeah, that's her' - meaning me."

As her two children slept along with her mother, Santana says she was handcuffed and led to a van on the street, with her husband screaming in protest, and the Rutherford police officers doing nothing.
Her husband followed them in his car to the Dover Police Station, even though they drove 85 MPH most of the way. Then look how these brave, heroic bounty hunters behaved after they found out that they had taken the wrong woman:
In Dover, the men parked outside the police station. The "supervisor" bounty hunter went into the station with all of Santana's identification and came out 10 minutes later.

"He said, 'I'll be good to you, but if you keep crying, you'll make me upset, and I'll change my mind,'" Santana said.

The man took her handcuffs off and "I jumped out of the van," Santana said. "They didn't explain it was a mistake. He kept saying he's doing me a favor."

And then the two men drove off, she said, leaving her outside the police station.

"He left me in the street," she said.
Utterly disgraceful, particularly since it's more than a 30 mile drive from Rutherford to Dover. (Fortunately, her husband had managed to keep up.) In any case, the bounty hunters who treated Mrs. Santana this way are scum, plain and simple.

I'm sure that someone out there will correct me if I'm wrong, but I thought that bounty hunters couldn't enter private residences to apprehend a bail jumper without first notifying local police of their plans. It's clear that laws vary from state to state and what I've learned of New Jersey laws is that they are very lax about bounty hunters. That clearly needs to be changed.

What's even worse about this case is that Mrs. Santana ended up in the U.S. because she had fled from her native Columbia, where her grandmother had been killed by guerillas. She thought she had escaped having to worry about armed men breaking into her house late at night to take her away.

Three things need to happen now:
  1. The bounty hunters responsible for this need to be arrested, charged with abduction, and hopefully locked up for a long time as an example to other bail bondsmen not to go too far. Yes, mistakes happen, but there should be a severe penalty to pay for such reckless disregard for verifying a fugitive's identity. These morons clearly demonstrated such reckless disregard by relying on a blurry picture and ignoring the multiple forms of identification Mrs. Santana showed them to prove that she was who she said she was. As Mrs. Santana said, ""It sounds like the 'Twilight Zone' scene that nobody believes who you are. If you have IDs and that's not enough, what else can you do, what else can you show?" I don't give a crap for the bounty hunters' likely defense that they have to assume that the suspect's ID is forged. These guys aren't the police. If they can't easily show that the ID is forged or otherwise invalid, then they shouldn't be able to arrest the suspect, particularly if the crime the suspect was charged with was nonviolent.
  2. The Rutherford police who let the bounty hunters take Mrs. Santana on such a flimsy pretext need to be disciplined if they violated law or policy. Regardless of whether these police made a mistake, as a matter of policy, police should be required to insist upon better evidence from these freelancers before letting them take a suspect.
  3. If #1 doesn't happen, then Mrs. Santana should hire a lawyer immediately and sue the pants off the bail bond company (Mantis Recovery Service of Philadelphia) and the Borough of Rutherford. There are few times when I advocate this, but this is about as lawsuit-worthy an offense as I can think of. If there is any justice in the world, Mrs. Santana will win a fat settlement and bankrupt the company. (Indeed, this sounds like a case for Ron Kuby.)
There is no reason that bail bondsmen/bounty hunters should not be constrained by the same Constitutional prohibitions that limit the power of the police. Unfortunately, such does not appear to be the case.

10 example(s) of insolence returned:


At 7/07/2005 9:41 AM, Anonymous Mark Paris said...

Based on my limited understanding of the powers of bounty hunters, you are correct that they are not bound by the constitutional limits on official police. I also agree that the bounty hunters in this case should be charged with kidnapping at the least. I would certainly sue them and the police, no matter what else happens. How eager would their lawyers be to defend bounty hunters in a court, where the plaintiffs could talk about an innocent person dragged from her home while the police just watch? And then left 30 miles from home? That trial would be delicious.

 

At 7/07/2005 11:06 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

http://www.rutherford-nj.com/Emergency%20Services/surveyform.asp

Leave em a comment.

 

At 7/07/2005 11:12 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

For starters the bounty hunters should be criminally charged. They committed a crime. The important thing to remember here is that the bounty hunters are motivated by their reward. They could just have well taken a full day or more and worked with the police to verify identity but then, they would likely be out their payment. They abducted this woman on the coin flip that she was the right person. It is plainly criminal and they should have been arrested at the police station in the first place.

As far as lawsuit, I'll preface by saying that I am also very anti-litigation. In this case, however, in addition to the bail bond company, the municipality should be sued for their ridiculous breech of public trust by letting those outlaws drag someone from her home in the middle of the night. That officer at the very least should be disciplined for condoning an action that even he is not allowed to perform as a peace officer.

Don

 

At 7/07/2005 9:24 PM, Anonymous sysiphusian tax said...

OH, man.

May I please make a Gestapo reference?

KGB? KGB is not quite the same as a Hitler zombie thing.

That poor woman. Can you imagine the terror for her and her family?

 

At 7/08/2005 3:46 AM, Anonymous Derrick L. said...

wow - my jaw hit the floor reading this! The police should have arrested the bounty hunter for breaking and entering, kidnapping, and heck, call it what it is - a terrorist attack against this lady. I hope that this family gets a good lawyer and sues the pants off of the bail bondsmen, the bounty hunter, the city for failing to protect her, and the state of NJ if the state sanctions such activities.

Maybe with a nice fat 7 digit check in her hand, she can learn to get over her fears of being taken in the night by armed men.

 

At 7/10/2005 7:38 PM, Blogger N said...

I have long been outraged at the nearly unlimited Gestapo-like power judges give these untrained, young, sub-literate goons who get into bounty hunting because they like guns and aren't smart enough to be cops. This woman should sue the Rutherford police at the least, and hopefully the bounty hunters will be charged with kidnapping.

 

At 7/13/2005 1:06 PM, Blogger Engineer-Poet said...

She may not be able to collect from the police, but under "joint and several liability" whoever has the deepest pockets - the bail bondsman - will be stuck with the bill.

 

At 7/30/2005 12:43 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It only gets better..... It now seems that a Sargent of the NJ Rutherford Police Deptartment is now under arrest for filing a false police report!!

Feel protected?...I don't think so!
Heroes?.... yeah, right!

 

At 7/31/2005 10:12 AM, Blogger Orac said...

I hadn't heard this part. Do you have a link?

 

At 1/04/2006 7:26 PM, Anonymous AGENT VASQUEZ said...

Ok first of all, those people makking comments on what bounty hunters should do and not do need to stop speaking out of term.I think those bounty hunters were wrong and handled the situation very unprofessional and should be disciplined in whatever way necessary.To those that are not aware of FugitiveRecovery Laws(bounty hunters) In the United States are allowed to enter any residence of a fugitive with or without force if they know the fugitive is in the house for a fact, this is not a guessing game(lives are at stake) Local police are not required to be notified, but as a courtesy it is not a bad idea for the bounty hunters to notify the local P.D.In that situation the Bounty Hunters shouldve taken the "suspected fugitive" to the rutherford PD to examine the identifications then release the woman in her home town.Things of this nature Mistaken Identy do happen with police,FBI,US Mashalls etc.But it is also the responsibility for the Bounty Hunter To correct his mistake wether its driving back the wrongfully acused back home, or even apology sometimes works.Going back to entering premises without notifying the local police A Bounty Hunter can break into any residence (of the fugitive or even somewhere the fugitive can be hiding) "ACTING IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE DECISION OF THE US SUPREME COURT(TAYLOR VS. TAINTOR, 16WALL,336)HE/SHE IS GRANTED ALL AUTHOURITIES ALLOWED BY FEDERAL LAW MAY PURSUE A FUGITIVE IN ANOTHER STATE OR COUNTRY MAY ARREST HIM? ON THE SABBATH DAY, AND IF NECESSARY, MAY BREAK AND ENTER INTO HIS/HER HOUSE FOR THAT PURPOSE. NO PERSON MAY INTERFERE WITH THE LAWFUL BAIL ENFORCEMENT OFFICER(FUGITIVE RECOVERY AGENT, BOUNTY HUNTERS)IN THE PERFORMANCE OF HIS/HER DUTIES."
that includes Law Enforcement(REMEMBER A FUGITIVE RECOVERY AGENT IS ALSO A LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICER AND SHOULD BE RESPECTED THE WAY ANY OTHER LAW ENFORCEMENT AGENT IS.EVEN THOUGH A FUGITIVE RECOVERY DOES NOT WORK FOR THE P.D. THEY STILL HAVE RIGHTS TO ARREST AND DETAIN SOMEONE COMMITTING A CRIME.AGAIN IM NOT DEFENDING THOSE WHO MADE THE MISTAKE IN EAST RUTHERFORD ,BECAUSE WE ALL KNOW THEY WERE WRONG AND MAYBE SHOULD HAVE THEIR BOUNTY HUNTER CREDENTIALS REVOKED, BUT HOPEFULLY I OPENED SOME PEOPLE THAT ARENT AND WERENT AWARE OF BOUNTY HUNTERS LAWS AND RIGHTS.(THERE WILL ALWAYS BE THE BAD SEEDS IN THE APPLE TO RUIN IT, WE JUST GOTTA MAKE SURE WE ALL STICK TOGETHER TO FIX AND RESOLVE THOSE ISSUES SO THAT WE DONT ALL GET JUDGED.DISCRIMINATION AND STEREOTYPES ARE OUR DOWNFALL THIS DAY AND AGE.REMEMBER THERE IS GOOD IN EVERY KINDA GROUP)
AGENT FRANK VASQUEZ
IF ANY QUESTIONS FEEL FREE TO EMAIL ME AT WWW.FUGITIVETASKFORCE.COM
AGENT FRANK VASQUEZ

 

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