Jessup man sues county over 'deadbeat dad' error

November 04, 1994|By Dennis O'Brien | Dennis O'Brien,Sun Staff Writer

A Jessup man filed suit yesterday in Anne Arundel Circuit Court alleging that 13 county sheriff's deputies embarrassed and humiliated him when they came to his house last year to arrest him on a "deadbeat dad" warrant that turned out to be a mistake.

David R. Schmidt of the 7400 block of Montevideo Court alleges in the suit that he was in his kitchen in his pajamas at 9 a.m. on April 18, 1993, when the deputies burst in and arrested him.

The deputies "forced David R. Schmidt outside in his pajamas with his hands cuffed behind his back and shackled him [with leg irons] in his driveway, in front of his neighbors," the suit alleges.

The suit seeks $15 million in compensatory damages from Anne Arundel County and from the 13 "unidentified officers" of the sheriff's office who were named as co-defendants.

It also seeks $250 million in damages from Curtis Stokes of Severn, the private process server who failed to notify Mr. Schmidt of the charges before his arrest, and Legal Papers Inc. of Pikesville, the company that employed Mr. Stokes.

State's Attorney Frank R. Weathersbee said yesterday that Mr. Stokes pleaded guilty to perjury earlier this year in Anne Arundel Circuit Court, admitting that he lied when he signed an affidavit swearing he had served Mr. Schmidt with notice of the contempt of court charge.

Undersheriff Pat Ogle yesterday denied that 13 deputies were involved in the arrest, but said Mr. Schmidt was arrested as part of a sheriff's office crackdown on "deadbeat dads" conducted in the spring of 1993.

"It wasn't 13 deputies, it was more like three or four," he said.

Mr. Schmidt alleges in the suit that the arrest itself was a mistake.

He said that he reached an agreement with his former wife a year before his arrest that allowed him to stop paying $50-per-week in child support for their daughter because of financial difficulties brought on by the death of his father.

The suit alleges that despite the agreement, Domestic Relations Division workers directed Legal Papers Inc. to deliver papers ordering Mr. Schmidt to appear in Anne Arundel Circuit Court on Feb. 1 to explain why he had stopped paying support.

But Mr. Schmidt said because he never received the notice from Stokes, he did not show up, prompting the warrant that led to his arrest.

Mr. Ogle said that the sheriff's office had anticipated the suit, but that it was acting on false information because of Mr. Stokes' failure to serve the initial summons.

"We did what we were supposed to do. We served an active warrant. Unfortunately it turned out to be based on false information," Mr. Ogle said.

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