I’ve written before on forced blood draws, and indeed, in Austin, some DWI suspects are being forced to give blood specimens. After an initial refusal to take a breath or blood test, the officer submits a warrant to have the defendant’s blood forcibly drawn.
This is one of the main reasons that the Travis County Jail went to 24 hour magistration. Since most DWI arrests are after midnight – go figure – such a policy didn’t make any sense until they made sure they had a judge to rubber stamp the warrants.
But this news article takes it to a new level:
A lawsuit over the forced catheterization of a man who was arrested for investigation of drunken driving has been settled for $15,000.
The settlement reached Friday with Matthew Clifford Arthur, 37, over his treatment following an arrest in November 2005 did not include any admission of wrongdoing, Assistant Attorney General Gary E. Andrews said Monday. While the settlement covers Cowlitz County and county officials, the state will pay the full cost, he added.
"This turned out to be a better way to go than to spend more money litigating it," Andrews said.
Arthur filed suit last month, accusing two Cowlitz County sheriff’s deputies and a state corrections officer of forcing him to undergo catheterization and a blood draw when he refused to provide urine and blood samples at St. John’s Medical Center in Longview following a traffic stop.
Arthur was required to undergo screening for intoxicants upon request under a probation agreement at the time, but his lawyer, Kevin G. Blondin, said the procedure was painful, invasive and unnecessary.
"He was held down kicking and screaming while they shoved a catheter into his penis," Blondin said.
Instead, Arthur should have been taken to jail when he refused to give the fluid samples, the lawyer said.
Forced catheterization. A couple of comments.
First, state entities do not, at least typically, settle lawsuits “just to make them go away” or because it will be cheaper. I don’t have any inside facts here, but I think it’s reasonable to guess that ‘they’ decided that a jury wouldn’t like this, and that they stood to lose a lot more if they went to trial. That’s how civil settlements work.
Second, this guy was on probation. So he deserved it right? Even consuming alcohol, whether you are operating a vehicle or not, is a probation violation – at least in Texas. But many times, at least if it’s a DWI probation in Austin, the judge will make “submit to the taking of a breath or blood specimen upon request of police or probation officer” a condition. So if it’s necessary to prove a probation violation, his initial refusal will do the trick.
Third… is this what we’ve come to? Forced catheterization? It barely needs commenting on. If you’re not immediately, viscerally opposed to this, I can’t imagine how my words could change your mind.
I’m not a big fan of slippery slope arguments, but before you start supporting forced blood draws in Texas DWI cases, you really might want to think where this whole thing is going.