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Truck driver: I was victim of backwoods justice

By Paul Foy
The Associated Press

6/10/2013

SALT LAKE CITY — A truck driver thrown in a Utah jail after his rig drifted across lanes has filed a lawsuit saying he was never charged with a crime or brought before a judge during the nearly three weeks he was held and he wasn't intoxicated when pulled over but instead had an inner-ear infection that affected his balance.

Robert Kuchcinski also said in his lawsuit he wasn't allowed to call an attorney until his 16th day in jail before being released the next day.

Because he was out of action for so long, he was fired by his trucking company, according to a federal lawsuit he filed Friday against Box Elder County.

Kuchcinski was stopped on Interstate-15 almost a year ago for briefly drifting across a lane and arrested on suspicion of drunken driving.

Arrest records prove he was not intoxicated, and he instead had the inner-ear infection, according to the lawsuit claiming that county officials violated his constitutional rights.

"At no time was he brought before a judge for arraignment and at no time was he formally charged with any crime other than the traffic citation, a mere infraction," the lawsuit says. "Likewise, he was not afforded an opportunity to confer with counsel."

Box Elder County Sheriff J. "Lynn" Yeates and the county's attorney, Stephen Hadfield, didn't return calls for comment Monday from The Associated Press.

No phone number could be found for Kuchcinski, who was a resident of Washington state at the time of his arrest. He has since moved to the Phoenix area, according to his lawsuit.

"The overwhelming distress of spending 17 days incarcerated without knowing why has caused extensive psychological trauma to plaintiff," who "experiences frequent flashbacks to time spent in jail. More importantly, plaintiff experiences debilitating anxiety attacks whenever he has to drive more than a few miles," the suit claims.

The lawsuit seeks "such compensatory damages as shall be proven at trial" and punitive damages against the county.


 

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