PHOENIX (AP) — A federal jury ruled Friday in favor of the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office in a lawsuit that claimed its policy of forcing resistant inmates with psychological problems to wear jail uniforms was unconstitutional.
The lawsuit centered on the detention of Eric Vogel, a mentally ill man who in November 2001 refused to get out of his street clothes and into the striped jail suit and pink underwear that are fixtures in Sheriff Joe Arpaio's jails.
Joel Robbins, an attorney who argued the case against the sheriff's office, says as jail officers removed Vogel's clothes, Vogel mistakenly viewed the pink underwear as an attempt to rape him, even though the officers didn't sexually assault him. He didn't suffer physical injuries.
Vogel, who had been arrested by Phoenix police on aggravated assault and other charges, died two weeks after his release.
In a written statement, Arpaio said the verdict is proof that his jail officers don't violate people's civil rights.
Robbins said the judge had forbid references to the pink underwear, so he was left to contest the dressing policy. He said he plans to appeal Friday's judgment.