The Colorado Supreme Court has declined to hear El Paso County's appeal of a 4th Judicial District Court judge's ruling that freed two inmates being held solely at the request of federal immigration enforcement authorities.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Colorado sued Sheriff Bill Elder on Feb. 27 on behalf of two inmates, arguing that the Sheriff's Office has illegally kept people in jail "for days, weeks, even months" after they posted bond or resolved their cases because U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) asked that they be detained.
At issue is whether Elder can legally jail a suspected undocumented immigrant without a signed warrant from a judge on behalf of ICE.
On March 20, 4th Judicial District Judge Eric Bentley granted a preliminary injunction, ordering the Sheriff's Office to honor bonds for ACLU clients Saul Cisneros, 47, and Rut Noemi Chavez Rodriguez, who would have been eligible for release if ICE hadn't requested thy be detained.
The county appealed Bentley's decision to the state's high court, asking for the preliminary injunction to be lifted while the case is pending.
Sheriff's spokeswoman Jacqueline Kirby declined to comment on the ruling.
ACLU Legal Director Mark Silverstein applauded the latest decision.
"Judge Bentley ruled that when jail prisoners post bond, complete their sentence, or otherwise resolve their criminal case, Colorado law requires the sheriff to release them," Silverstein said in a statement. "We believe Judge Bentley got it right, and the (Colorado) Supreme Court didn't disagree.
Bentley has yet to make a final ruling on the legality of Elder's practice of honoring ICE's requests to detain inmates, said Senior Assistant County Attorney Kenneth Hodges, who added the case could end up going to trial.
Contact Rachel Riley: 636-0108