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Friday, August 17, 2007

Ind. Decisions - More on 7th Circuit decision re Orland's Deputy Town Marshal

The 7th Circuit's decision Wednesday in the case of Ryan Belcher and Daraina Gleason v. Vaughn Norton and Town of Orland (ND Ind. Judge Springmann) [see ILB entry here] is the subject of an AP story today:

ORLAND, Ind. -- A deputy marshal from a Northern Indiana town must face a lawsuit over claims that he illegally held a couple as they tried to retrieve personal belongings from their van at a tow yard, a federal appeals court ruled.

The 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Wednesday reversed a judge's ruling in favor of Orland Deputy Town Marshal Vaughn Norton, saying he may have acted inappropriately and could be sued.

"I'm kind of excited, but I'm still kind of sad about the circumstances of the whole thing," plaintiff Ryan Belcher said. "I really do feel they violated me and my wife's rights."

Belcher, 25, and his then-fiancee, Daraina Gleason, say Norton detained them illegally in February 2004 after they went to a towing company's lot to retrieve items from their van four days after a breakdown on the Indiana Toll Road.

After four employees kept them from leaving, Norton arrived and threatened to arrest Belcher on a disorderly conduct charge unless he signed over the van's title to the tow company, court records said. Gleason eventually signed over the title.

The couple claim in the suit that they asked that a state trooper be called, but Norton refused, saying, "I am the law."

The appeals court agreed with the lower court that the town about 50 miles north of Fort Wayne could not be sued over the matter.

The appeals court ruling said the lien the towing company had against the van covered only the vehicle, not the contents, and that state law allowed the couple 20 days to claim the vehicle.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on August 17, 2007 10:45 AM
Posted to Ind. (7th Cir.) Decisions