A jury awarded a California woman $21,060 in compensation for medical costs and pain and suffering related to injuries that occurred while she was in police custody.

On February 5, 2004, JulieAnne Shull drove to Sacramento, California with a companion to lobby legislators to pass a bill preserving old growth forests. After meeting with lawmakers, Shull videotaped her friend sitting in a tree in an attempt to generate public support for the legislation. Later that afternoon, Shull was arrested by the California Highway Patrol for conspiring to commit a misdemeanor trespass.

Shull claimed that she was held at the California Highway Patrol station for five hours in handcuffs before being transported to the county jail; that she was assaulted by Sheriff Deputies Rebecca Purdy and Jennifer Page during her dress-in; that she was held for four days before her arraignment on February 9, 2004; and that even after the court ordered her release, she was held in jail until nearly midnight.

Shull sued the County of Sacramento for false imprisonment, and Deputies Page and Purdy for false arrest, assault and battery, invasion of privacy, violation of due process, intentional infliction of emotional distress and violation of her First Amendment rights. She also sued the CHP and the arresting officers, as well as the State of California. The Superior Court of Sacramento County dismissed California and the CHP from the suit, allowing the case to proceed against the county and the sheriff’s deputies.

At trial, the defendants claimed that during Shull’s dress-in, she was uncooperative and raised her hands toward them. They said that they put her in a control hold against the wall, and when they released her she tried to swing at them, so they placed her in another control hold.

Shull alleged that Deputies Page and Purdy wrenched her arm behind her back, which caused permanent diminished mobility and disfigurement. The defense countered that in May 2006 orthopedist Dr. Asa Stockton reported that Shull had a normal range of motion, normal strength and required no further treatment.

The jury found that Shull was subjected to unreasonable force by Deputy Purdy only, and that this was a substantial factor in causing her injury. They awarded her $1,060 for past medical expenses, $15,000 for past pain and suffering, and $5,000 for future pain and suffering. The jury found no liability with respect to Deputy Page and found in favor of the County of Sacramento on the issue of false imprisonment. No punitive damages were awarded.

See: Shull v. C.H.P. Marc Shaw, et al., Supreme Court of Sacramento County, Case No. 05-AS01501 (April 19, 2007)

About Christopher Zoukis, MBA

Christopher Zoukis, MBA, is the Managing Director of the Zoukis Consulting Group, a federal prison consultancy that assists attorneys, federal criminal defendants, and federal prisoners with prison preparation, in-prison matters, and reentry. His books include Directory of Federal Prisons (Middle Street Publishing, 2020), Federal Prison Handbook (Middle Street Publishing, 2017), Prison Education Guide (PLN Publishing, 2016), and College for Convicts: The Case for Higher Education in American Prisons (McFarland & Company, 2014).