Truck driver claims he was held in Box Elder jail 17 days without being charged

Jun 10 2013 - 5:12pm

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Robert Kuchcinski (Police photo)
Robert Kuchcinski (Police photo)

BRIGHAM CITY -- The Box Elder County sheriff  says only the state highway patrol can explain why an inmate sat at his jail for nearly three weeks without being charged or brought before a judge.

Truck driver Robert Kuchcinski has filed a federal civil-rights lawsuit against Box Elder County.

Kuchcinski's lawyer says he was held for 17 days at the county's jail on suspicion of drunken driving, but that arrest records show he wasn't intoxicated and that he had an inner-ear infection that affected his balance.

Sheriff Lynn Yeates says he doesn't know about a case he says was handled by the Utah Highway Patrol. UHP spokesman Todd Johnson didn't immediately return a call from The Associated Press.

Box Elder County Attorney Stephen Hadfield says he can't comment because he hasn't seen the lawsuit and doesn't know about the case.

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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