A Queens, New York man is suing New York City and his Legal Aid lawyers for spending months in jail after they kept him in the dark about his bail. He owed a measly $2.
According to the New York Daily News, Aitabdel Salem, 42, was arrested in 2014 on charges he attacked an NYPD officer who collared him after he allegedly stole a coat at a Zara store in the Flatiron district. His initial bail was set for $25,000 in that case and for a second case.
Two days later, Salem’s lawyer didn’t bring him to court for either charge, which prompted a judge to reduce his bail to $1 for each charge. But he had no idea that was the case.
According to court papers, then in February, he had another case where his lawyer once again waived his appearance and allowed the proceeding to go on without him.
Apparently there is a law where is a suspect needs to be convened by a grand jury within 144 hours if he is held on bail.
His lawsuit alleges the following: “Mr. Salem implored corrections officers within (Rikers Island) to tell him what happened on his respective court dates. “None of the corrections officers told him that he was ordered to be free on Nov. 28, 2014, because his bail had been reduced from to $1.”
“In fact, they all ignored his unrelenting pleas for information regarding his freedom,” it added.
Luckily for Salem, a church leader bailed him out, but nearly five months later.
In addition, he also missed a court date after his release because he hadn’t been told of a scheduling change, the Daily News noted.
Despite his pending lawsuit, Salem doesn’t have a happy ending.
He was later convicted on felony assault and criminal tampering charges in August, and is serving four and a third to five years in state prison.