ACLU-SD Files Two Lawsuits Challenging Forced Catheterization

Do you think forcing a catheter into a child or any human being to collect evidence is a barbaric practice that no police officer or other agent of the state should be allowed to commit?

Then you should support the American Civil Liberties Union of South Dakota, which is taking the South Dakota Department of Social Services, Avera St. Mary’s Hospital, Pierre police officers, the Sisseton Police Department, and the South Dakota Highway Patrol to federal court for committing this atrocity:

Two lawsuits have been filed; one on behalf of a three-year-old child who was forcibly catheterized as a means to collect evidence of child abuse or neglect, and the other on behalf of five adults who were subject to forcible catheterization as part of criminal investigations. All plaintiffs were subjected by law enforcement and state officials to forcible catheterization in violation of the Fourth Amendment’s protection against unreasonable searches and the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.

…“Forcible catheterization is painful, physically and emotionally damaging, and deeply degrading,” said Heather Smith, Executive Director. “Catheterization isn’t the best way to obtain evidence, but it is absolutely the most humiliating. The authorities ordered the catheterization of our clients to satisfy their own sadistic and authoritarian desires to punish. Subjecting anyone to forcible catheterization, especially a toddler, to collect evidence when there are less intrusive means available, is unconscionable” [ACLU of South Dakota, press release, 2017.06.29].

The three-year-old in question in the first lawsuit had a catheter forced into his urinary tract to get evidence of his mother’s boyfriend’s drug use. The five adults named in the second lawsuit were subjected to similar torture to obtain evidence of their own alleged drug use. One plaintiff, Cody Holcombe, agreed to provide a urine sample but was catheterized anyway because Pierre police thought he was “taking too long.”

As the state is a defendant, Attorney General and gubernatorial candidate Marty Jackley will need to explain why forcing objects in people’s urinary tracts is an acceptable practice.


16 Responses to ACLU-SD Files Two Lawsuits Challenging Forced Catheterization

  1. Porter Lansing

    Sadistic and authoritarian desires to punish? Cory could easily have combined this atrocity with his next blog post, thrown back the rug of secrecy that shrouds the state in embarrassment and done even more good for the decent folks than he does on a regular basis.

  2. mike from iowa

    Hope the jackal fights this and the state ends up paying millions. There is no Earthly reason to force this on anyone, especially using non-medical personnel and with the potential for infections and diseases.

    Wingnuts will be dissing the ACLU ,but, have at times gladly accepted the ACLU’s assistance in court battles.

  3. Porter Lansing

    What group in the 1940’s acted like this towards citizens?

  4. Tyler Schumacher

    Matthew Shaver (the one police officer named), is a two year, extremely over zealous cop. In my seven years in Pierre, he is the only officer to pull me over, and he has pulled me over twice. Once with no probable cause, and once for a ticket that got tossed out before I had a chance to fight it.

    Doctor/Reserve Officer Maningas (not specifically named in the lawsuit, but oversaw at least one of the adult catheterizations) acts much more like a police officer than a doctor while doctoring. No surprise that he would help out his coworkers in the police department at the cost of a patient’s liberty.

    I don’t wish the ER at St. Mary’s on anyone.

  5. I just can’t imagine that busting someone for drugs is worth inflicting this physical torture. We could commit various invasions of privacy to uncover all sorts of illegal behavior, but we don’t do it; we accept that the state cannot cross certain lines, even to obtain incriminating evidence. If someone is breaking the law, there will be external evidence of that lawbreaking. We don’t need to forcibly extract things from individuals’ bodies to prosecute.

  6. Two years ago a deer knocked me flying off my motorcycle, resulting in fractures of my scapula, three ribs and ankle. In viewing the Rapid City Regional CAT-scan for follow up shortly afterward, alert staff at Ft. Meade VA Hospital noticed a tumor in my bladder, which turned out to be malignant and had to be removed though transurethral resection. It was a miserable time, but the part that I remember as being worst of all was the five endless days I spent catheterized following the operation. (Umm…TMI? I do apologize, but I’m trying to make a point.) I find it incredibly abhorrent that this could be used by law enforcement to obtain evidence for a simple drug charge. All enforcement personnel involved in these two cases, even if only passive onlookers, need to be permanently removed from their posts and barred from ever serving in any public capacity again.

  7. Mike, I realize you are from Iowa and as such don’t care about teachers and poor people in South Dakota, but if the state has to pay millions from where do you think that cold hard moola will come? Let me tell you, Mike, it will come out of the pockets of school teachers and Medicare providers to the poor.

  8. mike from iowa

    I know you are from somewhere< Grudz. I believe your what passes for a state carries insurance to alleviate the cost of LOSING in court. The state cannot use federal government program monies to pay state debts-at least they shouldn't be, I guess yer just gonna have to tax the people with money-the wealthy.

    Of course if you had a real AG like iowa's Tom Miller, you wouldn't have such problems. That and get rid of one party governance. Wingnuts cannot govern.

  9. A typical libbie response: “that’s what you have insurance for”

    Do some research on the Great State of South Dakota, Mr. Mike, and then do tell us all. I seem to remember some arguments in the legislatures not all that long about about general funding being used to give to pay for litigation and lawsuits the state had lost. I bet you Mr. H already has all the math done on it.

  10. mike from iowa

    You should thank yer lucky stars anyone responds to you, Grudz. Don’t tell OldSarg I am not posting a link with this.

  11. And…grudznick wins another debate with facts, and packs another Iowa goat away.

  12. JonD, you’ve got me squirming, but in this case, TMI is AOK—you establish from personal experience what a miserable experience catheterization is when voluntary and thus how unacceptable it is as a tool of torture by the state against its own citizens.

  13. Grudz, don’t get us off topic. If the state is concerned about budgetary impacts, it shouldn’t be sticking its fiscal neck out by committing unconstitutional atrocities against its people and thus inviting civil rights lawsuits. Under no circumstance should victims of state torture subordinate their basic human rights and just claims for compensation to concern for sluggish revenues or discal stinginess that has already starved public institutions.

  14. I think SD may be the only state that makes evidence of ingestion of a banned drug an
    offense.

  15. Douglas, that’s true!

    South Dakota is the only state in that nation that says the existence of drugs in the body can be a felony crime. The law was passed in 2001 and upheld by the state Supreme Court in 2004. Utah has a similar provision under its consumption law, but that charge can be only a misdemeanor [Chris Huber, “Senate Bill Would Remove Possession by Ingestion Charge for Marijuana,” Rapid City Journal, 2017.01.29].

    Some legislators tried to remove THC from the list of drugs incurring the ingestion felony with Senate Bill 129, but Senate Judiciary killed it.

  16. I totally agree with the lawsuit and can strongly relate to your clients. I was catheters without my consent in 2016 and still having problems mentally dealing with it. Any place besides a hospital, it would be a class 4 felony. It should also be considered torture which is illegal anywhere any time. 58,000 young men my age died in Vet Nam for their human rights and we didn’t even know them. What’s wrong with this picture?