Crime & Courts

Judge dismisses Trust Act lawsuit against McHenry County sheriff

Suit alleged that Pascasio Martinez illegally was jailed based on immigration status

WOODSTOCK – A judge dismissed a civil lawsuit Wednesday that accused McHenry County Sheriff Bill Prim of illegally detaining a man in the county jail based on his immigration status.

Attorneys for Pascasio Martinez, 34, of Crystal Lake argued that he was held in violation of the Illinois Trust Act. Gov. Bruce Rauner signed the Trust Act on Aug. 28, which bars local and state police from searching, arresting or detaining a person simply because of their immigration status.

McHenry County Judge Thomas Meyer dismissed the civil suit Wednesday, while Martinez remained in the custody of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, according to a news release from the McHenry County Sheriff’s Office.

“I restate now what I have said for the last six months – namely that throughout this we have followed the law, with public safety being our first and foremost consideration,” Prim said in an official statement. “I am confident this issue is now behind us, and that public safety has at no time been compromised.”

Martinez was arrested Aug. 31 and charged with felony driving under the influence and misdemeanor DUI.

Immediately after his arrest, Martinez’s family tried more than once to post bond on his behalf but to no avail. Correctional officers reportedly told the family that ICE requested that the jail continue to detain the man.

Questions surrounding the county’s enforcement of the Trust Act first were raised when Niceforo Macedo-Hernandez, who had been jailed on a domestic battery charge since Aug. 9, continued to be held at the county jail on a detainer signed by an immigration officer, rather than a federal warrant signed by a judge.

Crystal Lake-based law firm KRV Legal filed a class action lawsuit on behalf of Macedo-Hernandez, as well as other inmates they believed had been detained illegally.

That lawsuit voluntarily was dismissed Nov. 7. At the time, KRV Legal was considering filing a federal lawsuit that would name the sheriff.

Attorneys with KRV Legal could not be reached for comment Wednesday on the dismissal of Martinez’s lawsuit against Prim.

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