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September 23, 2011

"Jaycee Dugard sues feds, citing Garrido parole failures"

The title of this post is the headline of this local article out of California, which reports on a tort suit that seems likely to warm the heart of Supremecy Claus and perhaps (many?) others.  Here are the basics from the start of the article:

Attorneys for Jaycee Dugard sued the federal government Thursday morning, lambasting federal authorities' decision to cut short Phillip Garrido's prison sentence and their lackluster enforcement of his parole in the 1990s, when he kidnapped Dugard.

The complaint seeks unspecified damages and parallels state proceedings that netted Dugard and her two daughters fathered by Garrido a $20 million settlement from the Legislature last year.  Nancy Seltzer, Dugard's Los Angeles-based publicist, said the complaint was filed after Dugard was twice denied mediation by the federal government.

In the filing, Dugard's attorneys reveal that a 35-minute interview with parole officials led to Garrido's release from federal prison in 1987, just 11 years into a 50-year sentence for the rape and kidnapping of a South Lake Tahoe woman in 1976.  From there, the filing states, the shortcomings in assessing Garrido's danger to the public only got worse.

Garrido kidnapped Dugard in 1991 and in the course of sexual slavery carried out over the next few years fathered two daughters while keeping them hidden in a backyard compound of tents, sheds and a soundproofed studio that doubled as Dugard's birthing room.  

The complaint argues that parole checks and psychiatric evaluations downplayed disturbing spikes in his personality and numerous parole violations, and that federal authorities did not share their full records with state parole agents who took over his supervision in 1999.

Many of the assertions made in the complaint were acknowledged in a federal report on Garrido's parole supervision released this year as well as a state audit in November 2009, about two months after Dugard resurfaced near Antioch.  

In a statement, Seltzer said Dugard is not seeking money for herself but rather her nonprofit, the JAYC Foundation, which is aimed at providing treatment and support for victims of abductions and traumatic experiences.

I would be very interested in reader reactions to Dugard's tort suit against the federal government.  I am interested not only view about whether Dugard's extreme case justifies a tort award from the feds, but also the broader question of whether tort suits against criminal justice officials for any gross recklessness in supervising dangerous criminals ought to be more common.

Interestingly, because parole was formally abolished in the federal for all crimes committed after 1987, a tort judgment based on failings of federal parole officials in the Dugard case might have only limited long-term impact in the federal system.  But, of course, lots of states still have parole mechanisms and this high-profile suit could, at least indirectly, have a big impact on their workings.  In addition, federal officials still have some post-prison-release supervision responsibilities under the modern structure of federal "supervised release."  A big ruling for Dugard also could, at least indirectly, have a big impact on this part of the modern federal sentencing system.

September 23, 2011 at 10:00 AM | Permalink


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In light of this story, does anyone really believe there will be adequate oversight and supervision of the 33,000 prisoners to be released under Plata? Is that how the California criminal justice system performs?

Posted by: Bill Otis | Sep 23, 2011 1:14:26 PM

I strongly support tort liability as a remedy for the total failure of the lawyer run criminal law. I support constitutional torts by black neighborhoods against the lawyer run government for dumping and directing crime to their areas, dropping real estate values to nil or negative territory. I disagree with the Supreme Cort that the police has no duty to individual citizens, even those holding judge signed protection orders against their murderous husbands. Fomr the other end, there should be full damages paid to anyone who is falsely convicted, imprisoned, or even investigated by the lawyer run government. A false investigation can be costly in money and reputation, not to mention with future employers, licensing renewals. Even if the investigation is self-published or revealed it should deemed libel per se in new statutes.

I strongly urge anyone against oppressive and big government to support increased tort liability for government workers, including full liabilities for judges, legislators, and executive officials, including the President. These are big time wasters. If they have to be immune becasuse they are too busy, the welder should be immune, being busier,and far more important to our economy.

I have shown, by numerous naturalistic experiments in history, liability not deters the defendant and tort feasor. It deters and shrinks the entire activity, segment of the economy. So liability is the 12 lane highway to smaller government.

So, I support government liability, even strict liability.

In this case, there are problems. First, she failed to take innumerable opportuinities to escape, to ask strangers to call the police, to just walk away. Call this contributory negligence.

I have to read her book. However, she took print orders on the bahalf of her captor, as his secretary might. Call this problem, consent .

The officers are not psychic and should not be held to psychic standards.

She feels that she got something from her ordeal, her kids. The value of her kids should be deducted from any judgment. If they have an assessable value, she would unjustly enriched if their value to her were not deducted from any money damage.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Sep 23, 2011 9:53:29 PM


No, there will not be adequate oversight of the 33,000 prisoners to be released under Plata. If there were, we (and you) would be destitute.

But then again, you take the extremes as if they were commonplace. Likely, more than half to be released are non-violent.

You continue to be "Dumb on Crime", i.e., real criminals are those who have CAUSED REAL HARM. Don't think of "to Catch a Predator"

Very few (probably 0) of those caught were RSO's. They were mostly geeky young men entrapped by LE. Yet they were enticed to break a law by LE (or PJ).

That is how current LE works.

That is why we are broke. You pass laws infringing the 2nd Amendment (potentially making me a criminal), but that is the primary means I can use to keep my independence from corrupt government and LE.

PS: That stellar, brave hero of "to Catch a Predator" has been found cheating on his wife with two different women (ala Bill Clinton).

We have so many examples of virtue in government to emulate.

Posted by: albeed | Sep 23, 2011 10:07:33 PM

The men on 'To Catch a Predator' were not entrapped. Perverted Justice puts the transcript of the conversations that led to the meetings on their website. Go check them out.

Also, cheating is immoral. It's also legal.

Posted by: MikeinCT | Sep 24, 2011 12:15:31 AM

horse pucky mike!

sorry having 50 year of twits! pretending to be kids is NO different than a cop trying to convict you for buying ANY illegal drug and it turns out what he handed you was SUGAR!


Posted by: rodsmith | Sep 24, 2011 12:57:23 AM

"In a statement, Seltzer said Dugard is not seeking money for herself but rather her nonprofit, the JAYC Foundation, which is aimed at providing treatment and support for victims of abductions and traumatic experiences."

This is another problem. Torts are to compensate an injury with money damages. All other uses represent an improper motive, even potentially malice. Examples of improper motives that should result in a motion to dismiss and ethics complaints, "To find out what happened, ""To send a message,""It's not for the money," "I do not want this to happen to anyone else," or in this case, "To fund a charitable organization."

Defense lawyers have never made these motions. The likelihood is that they only make money from going through a trial, no matter the risk to their client. Thus they do not want to end a case at its start.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Sep 24, 2011 7:22:20 AM

They aren't releasing 33,000 under Plata so Bill's rhetorical question is pure BS. They're shifting the vast majority of those to be housed in county jails, not releasing them. But please, don't let reality get in the way of strongly held opinions.

Posted by: Gritsforbreakfast | Sep 25, 2011 7:47:13 AM

Grits --

"They aren't releasing 33,000 under Plata so Bill's rhetorical question is pure BS."

The actions ordered by the Plata Court are nowhere near complete, the counties are pushing back, and the supervising three-judge panel has yet to speak to this. In other words, you have no idea what will happen in the future, unless you have a crystal ball. Do you?

Posted by: Bill Otis | Sep 25, 2011 7:53:15 PM

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