Suppose, for a moment, that you're arrested by Denver police. And held in jail on a convoluted 43-count indictment, unable to make the $750,000 bail, for a staggering two and half years, a local record for pre-trial detention. And then all charges were dropped.
Just what would that little experience be worth to you? A million bucks? Five million?
Douglas Glaser figures that in his case it's worth around $130,000 a day. Released last March after 905 days in the Denver jail, Glaser has filed a lawsuit in federal court against the city and numerous cops and prosecutors, seeking a total of nearly $120 million in damages suffered from his Kafkaesque journey through the system.
A former penny stock promoter with a history of skirmishes with the SEC, Glaser filed the lawsuit himself, having picked up considerable legal skills during his long detention. His current troubles began with a car accident in the spring of 2005. As detailed in our report "Douglas Glaser on Ice," Glaser's driver's license had been revoked; he gave the responding police officer a passport in a different name, triggering a wave of search warrants and investigations that left him behind bars and required to produce documents that didn't exist.
Glaser insisted that the police had fabricated evidence against him. His case was further complicated by the withdrawal of one lawyer, the suicide of another, Michael Andre, a mistrial on a weapons charge and other disasters. Contending that his rights to due process and a speedy trial had been violated, Glaser pressed his claims all the way to the United States Supreme Court, which agreed to accept his petition earlier this year -- a remarkable achievement for any jailhouse lawyer. Before that hearing could take place, though, a Denver judge ordered his release.
In a recent e-mail to Westword, Glaser reports that he emerged from jail with less than a thousand dollars to his name, used his hotel bonus points to stay in downtown hotels while rebuilding his business -- and is still trying to figure out what happened to much of the personal property in his Cherry Creek home, which went into foreclosure during his absence. His damage calculations include loss of income, $4.8 million; $16 million for various constitutional violations; $5 million for false arrest and imprisonment; $12 million for slander, defamation and playing hell with his credit rating; $1.5 million for the loss of his house and personal property; $51 million for "loss of stock value;" $5 million for loss of liberty; and, oh yeah, $10 million for "intentional inflict of emotional distress."
And a couple million for attorney fees, of course.
Considering that even the classic innocent man unjustly imprisoned for murder for 20 years rarely sees compensation stretching into seven figures -- see this obituary for one such case -- it's entirely possible that Glaser's figures will get whittled down considerably as his claim progresses. But Glaser has also offered the people he's suing an alternative to a humongous cash settlement: to apologize and resign their jobs. -- Alan Prendergast