Stoel Rives Attorneys Achieve Significant Civil Liberties Ruling in Immigration Case

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A team ofPatrol-Cop-s.jpg Stoel Rives attorneys, along with attorneys from the ACLU of Washington Foundation and Northwest Immigrant Rights Project, notched a significant civil liberties ruling at Pierce County Superior Court in Washington last month. At issue was whether local law enforcement officers may prolong the detention of individuals in order to question them about their immigration status.

Such a detention is unconstitutional, ruled Judge Kathryn Nelson, noting that local law enforcement officials "do not have the authority to enforce federal immigration law nor prolong a detention to question individuals about their immigration status, citizenship status or country of origin." The judge added that the prohibition also applies to circumstances in which officers have probable cause to detain individuals for violating laws the officers are authorized to enforce but for which they do not make an arrest.

Attorneys Skylee Robinson, Karin Jones and Maren Norton together logged several hundred hours on behalf of their clients in the pro bono case. "We're pleased the Court provided clarity for state and local law enforcement that questioning persons while in detention about their immigration status is unconstitutional," said Robinson. "We greatly appreciate the opportunity to help protect civil liberties guaranteed under the Washington State Constitution," added Jones.

The case is Ramirez-Rangel v. Kitsap County, No. 12-2-09594-4.

Key Contributors

Karin D. Jones
Maren R. Norton
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