Arkansas officials sued over efforts to extradite man wrongly arrested | Arkansas Blog

Monday, June 26, 2017

Arkansas officials sued over efforts to extradite man wrongly arrested

Posted By on Mon, Jun 26, 2017 at 7:07 AM

STEVEN DISHMAN: In 1985 and today is now in custody. But a false arrest lawsuit engendered by the search for him lingers on.
  • STEVEN DISHMAN: In 1985 and today is now in custody. But a false arrest lawsuit engendered by the search for him lingers on.

More here on the case of Steven Dishman, the escaped convict arrested in Springdale Sunday after 32 years on the lame.

We mentioned then the false arrest suit by James Soler of Alpine, Calif., arrested erroneously as Dishman and held for a week, apparently because of a busybody neighbor.

I've since learned that Soler has filed suit in federal court in Little Rock against Lisa Wilkins, an attorney for the Arkansas Correction Department, and Ray Hobbs, former department director, for efforts by Arkansas to extradite despite a lack of evidence that he was, in fact, Dishman. Eventually fingerprints proved California cops had the wrong man and he was released. But during this period, Wilkins asserted vigorously probable cause for Soler's extradition (without demonstrating any, the lawsuit alleges), a process approved at every step in Arkansas.


A trial in that case is scheduled in April.

Among others, the suit says that Wilkins decided to seek extradition based solely on the allegation by a neighbor that Soler was Dishman.

She made that decision based solely on the statements that Ms. Lara made to Lt. Smart earlier that day witihout: ( 1) conducting any follow-up investigation, let alone a reasonable one, including sending Mr. Dishman's fingerprints to San Diego by email or overnight express; (2) asking any other person or entity to conduct any follow-up investigation, including asking whether Mr. Soler's fingerprints were on file in San Diego or AFIS (Automated Fingerprint Identification System) which was in wide use by 2013 and in Arkansas since 20003; or (3) obtaining any additional information to accurately assess whether Mr. Soler was the escapee Steven Dishman.

Over the next several weeks, Ms. Wilkins periodically apprised Mr. Hobbs of her efforts with respect to the Dishman/Soler matter, and she advised Mr. Hobbs that ( 1) there was probable cause to believe that Mr. Soler was the escapee Steven Dishman, and (2) there was probable cause to support Mr. Soler's arrest in, and extradition from, California. Yet, they completely lacked probable cause. 
The lawsuit, filed by John W. Hall, seeks actual and punitive damages for violation of Soler's constitutional rights. It says his detention was prolonged by actions of the Arkansas officials.

The State Police said today it is continuing to investigate Dishman's escape and where he's lived the last 32 years.

The investigation into where a state prison escapee has spent the past thirty-two years is in the hands of the Arkansas State Police. Investigators are questioning people who knew him by another name. A statement said a person who met Dishman about five years after the escape came forward last weekend to give information that led troopers to the Springdale residence where he was arrested.

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