Portales woman files suit after being arrested for library fine - KFDA - NewsChannel 10 / Amarillo News, Weather, Sports

Portales woman files suit after being arrested for library fine

PORTALES, NEW MEXICO- A woman recently arrested for an overdue library fine is throwing the book at the city with a lawsuit.

Lori Martinez' story has been making headlines across the nation.

While the publicity may be playing in her favor, she says this whole incident is a chapter of her life she'd rather not remember.

"They decided to take me to jail and they arrested me in front of my kids," Martinez said.

On the night of June 12, she said deputies knocked on her door, ran her name through their system and placed in handcuffs.

"I was humiliated and embarrassed," she said. "I've never been in trouble in my life. For my kids to see this was not good."

Martinez was taken into custody on a warrant stemming from an overdue library fine of $35.98.

Charges were dropped two weeks later, but says that wasn't good enough.

She has since hired attorney Eric Dixon to represent her in a lawsuit filed last week against the City of Portales.

"We want to make sure this never happens again," Dixon said. "At best this was a civil case."

Dixon says at least 50 more cases of warrants issued by the municipal court for outstanding library fines were dropped after Martinez' case was dismissed. 

"It's a terrible message to send someone to jail," he explained when referring to arresting citizens for book fines. "There are a lot bigger issues in Portales these days than overdue library books."

Martinez had to pay more than $600 to bail out of jail, not to mention the legal fees associated with her lawsuit She's now hoping for a win in the end and asking for change in the justice system.

"I hope they don't go after people for library fines," she said. "They need to get people who are doing wrong."

The Portales Police Department housed Martinez overnight but says the Roosevelt County Sheriff's Department made the arrest.

Our calls to Sheriff Darren Hooker were not returned Friday.

We also contacted Portales city attorney Stephen Doerr who declined to comment at this time.

The city has 30 days to respond to the lawsuit.

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