The case of San Francisco’s Stancy Nesby shows how difficult it is to get a wrongly issued arrest warrant out of the criminal justice system. The San Francisco Chronicle reports that Nesby, 28, sued San Francisco officials after she was mistakenly detained, arrested, or jailed six times in 15 months. The incidents were based on arrest warrants signed by a judge after another woman gave Nesby’s name when she was arrested for cocaine possession, then failed to show up in court. Nesby hired a lawyer and got a judge to rule that the warrants had been issued in error. Police sent her a letter conceding the mistake. But authorities never voided the bogus warrants. Since then, Nesby has been arrested all over Northern California by police who think she’s still wanted. She sued, leading to a story in The Chronicle, and thought that would solve the problem. It hasn’t — not by a long shot. On Saturday, police in Berkeley made it seven run-ins with the law when they arrested her outside a supermarket.
Joe Okies, a spokesman for the Berkeley Police Department, said officers questioned Nesby because the car in which she had been sitting was parked outside a market where a robbery had just occurred, and the engine had been running. “It’s very frequent that people will lie to police,” Okies said. “People will say warrants were taken care of when they have not been. The officers were acting in good faith.” One expert, Jay Foley of the San Diego-based Identity Theft Resource Center, said, “There have got to be thousands of bench warrants that are out there for the wrong person.” He said people in Nesby’s predicament should list themselves on an identity-theft registry maintained by the state attorney general to keep from being arrested again and again.