Friday, January 24, 2014

Lawsuit filed in district court against Clearwater County

James Borders has filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court against Clearwater County and two sheriff’s deputies for an alleged illegal arrest, false imprisonment and illegal search of Borders vehicle on Aug. 16, 2012. He is asking for a jury trial and more than $10,000 in damages. The lawsuit claims that Borders’ constitutional rights were allegedly violated by the deputies’ actions.

The case was moved to federal court Jan. 7 after a tort claim was previously filed against Clearwater County, followed by a lawsuit in 2nd District Court. According to court documents Borders was asleep in his 2000 Dodge pickup in a pullout on the westbound side of U.S. Highway 12 near Orofino. Deputies David Koontz and Jerame Lee pulled up behind the pickup and asked Borders to step outside to evaluate whether he was safe to drive. Court documents show Borders wasn’t driving and the pickup wasn’t running.

According to the lawsuit, Officer Koontz filed a probable-cause affidavit to arrest Borders on allegations of driving under the influence and having an open container of alcohol in his possession. Court documents show Officer Koontz later changed the original probable-cause affidavit to remove the driving under the influence charge and leave the misdemeanor open container charge.

Borders was arrested and the pickup was searched. Officers allegedly found an open container of alcohol behind the front seat. According to court records no search warrants were issued for the search. According to the lawsuit the incident cost Borders attorney fees, bond fees and lost wages, a suspended driver’s license while his attorney worked through the administrative process.

According to the lawsuit Borders also alleges Clearwater County failed to sufficiently train its deputies, resulting in the unlawful arrest and search of his pickup. He is represented by Matthew Williams of Cascade and Clearwater County is represented by Sonyalee Nutsch of Lewiston.

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