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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Jailed 10 days after charges dropped, man sues city, cops

 (The Spokesman-Review)

A Spokane man was kept in jail for 10 days in 2003 after a charge against him was dropped, according to court records.

“The hardest part was sitting in there knowing that I had things that had to be taken care of,” said Chester A. Lenocker Jr. “I was kind of getting anxiety going through that.”

Lenocker was jailed May 9, 2003, for violating a protection order, a charge that was filed in the city’s Municipal Court. His bail was set at $5,000.

The count against Lenocker was dismissed June 13, 2003, and the court filled out paperwork the same day to be sent to the Spokane County Jail. Lenocker’s file, however, does not indicate if the record was sent to the jail June 13.

In his cell, Lenocker sent messages to his jailers asking about his status.

“My current charge was dismissed, why am I not getting released?” he wrote on June 20. In response, he was sent a note that said, “We have no dismissal from court on your (charge).”

On June 23, the jail called the court about Lenocker’s status. Records show that the release form was faxed to the jail that day, and he was released.

In most cases when all charges against an inmate are dismissed, the court faxes a form on the same day to the jail showing the action so the inmate can be released, said Chris Goe, Municipal Court accounting supervisor.

Lenocker served prison time after he was convicted in 2002 of second-degree assault against his then-girlfriend.

A protection order stemming from that case said that Lenocker could not have any contact with his ex-girlfriend, even at her invitation.

Lenocker said he came to her home May 9, 2003, to take their children to the dentist, at her request.

Police received a tip that he was at her home, and – after his ex-girlfriend denied he was there – they found and arrested him, court documents say.

The charge against him was dropped “in the interests of justice,” according to court documents.

Lenocker filed a lawsuit last month against the city of Spokane and its Police Department for treatment his claim calls “illegal and tortuous” during his arrest and incarceration.

But that lawsuit does not mention his extra days in jail.

Assistant city attorney Ellen O’Hara said she considers Lenocker’s claim frivolous. She has filed a request to dismiss the lawsuit.

“There was a valid restraining order,” she said.

Lenocker’s attorney, Russell Van Camp, said that just because the lawsuit doesn’t mention the 10 days his client spent in jail without charges doesn’t mean it’s not part of the case.

“The lawsuit doesn’t have to have every iota of what you’re going to be showing at trial,” Van Camp said.