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Jury cannot be told plaintiff undocumented

Aug. 17, 2011 at 6:53 PM   |   Comments

NASHVILLE, Aug. 17 (UPI) -- A jury seated to determine civil damages cannot be told a woman who was shackled while she had a baby in Tennessee is an illegal immigrant, a U.S. judge says.

The judge also barred the Davidson County Sheriff's Office from using two expert witnesses, The (Nashville) Tennessean reported. The witnesses were expected to testify they believe any anguish Juana Villegas suffered during the delivery three years ago came from fear of being deported.

Villegas was near her due date when she was stopped for a traffic violation and then held because of her immigration status. U.S. District Judge William J. Haynes Jr. has already ruled her rights were violated by being forced to give birth while chained down and by not being allowed a breast pump while she was imprisoned.

"The issue of deportation and immigration is too volatile," Haynes said in his ruling Tuesday on the defense's expert witnesses.

The jury must decide how much Villegas should get in damages.

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