Woman's suit for false jailing nears trial

Sept. 7, 2010 at 10:15 PM
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ORLANDO, Fla., Sept. 7 (UPI) -- A lawsuit filed by a Florida woman wrongly jailed for a day eight years ago in an identity theft foul-up may be getting close to trial, records show.

Kimberly Shields, who at the time of the 2002 identity-theft incident was a 23-year-old resident of Winter Park, had a pretrial conference scheduled Tuesday and her suit is tentatively scheduled to go to trial Sept. 27 in a Seminole County court, the Orlando Sentinel reported.

Shields was locked in a Seminole County jail, strip searched and deloused after she was picked up on an arrest warrant meant for another woman, Shannon McGuire, 38, who had given Shields's name when she was arrested for stealing a 1987 Plymouth, the Sentinel reported Tuesday.

McGuire was charged with auto theft, pleaded no contest and was put on three years' probation -- all under Shields's name, the Sentinel reported.

The day Shields was held in jail, McGuire was in a state prison serving an eight-year sentence for a series of crimes in Pinellas County.

Shields says -- and the Sentinel reported sheriff's office fax records and phone records show -- she was held for more than 24 hours, but the sheriff's office employee who found the error says it was 4-7 hours.

"I was held there when they knew it was not me, then I was strip searched and treated like one of the inmates," said Shields, who said she doesn't know how McGuire got her name.

Instead of suing Seminole, Shields should thank its employees for "doing a great job" in discovering the error and giving the information to a judge, who ordered Shields's release April 25, 2002, the day after her arrest, defense attorney Tom Poulton said.

"Jail is not fun. I'd hate for anyone to have to go there, especially if you know you're innocent," Shields said, observing that identity theft can do a lot more harm than merely ruining one's credit.

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