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Woman sues Columbia County over 2013 arrest

Lawsuit filed months after county ordered to pay $50,000 for illegal 2010 arrest

Roughly two months after winning a $50,000 lawsuit against Columbia County, a Scappoose woman is again suing the county in federal court.

This time, Samantha Miller, who lives in the Chapman area, is seeking more than $500,000 on claims she was illegally arrested, forced to undress and maliciously targeted by Columbia County authorities.

The suit was filed Thursday, Jan. 15, in federal court. Miller says she was arrested June 3, 2013, for menacing and pointing a firearm at a person, after she called 911 to report two men scaling the fence of her home on Old Mill Road, according to the complaint.

In her complaint, which she originally filed in Columbia County in December, Miller says she stayed on the phone with police as she yelled at the trespassing men and held a gun in her hand toward the ground while warning them to leave.

The men left, but Miller says when deputies and Oregon State Police arrived, she was arrested.

Miller claims she was detained at the Columbia County Jail for a little more than an hour and was forced to undergo a strip search while male deputies watched. She said she was held in a cell in a jail uniform, even though her mother had already posted bail for her.

Miller was charged with four misdemeanor counts in 2013, but after more than a year of stalled court proceedings, the charges against her were dropped on Dec. 16.

Miller’s legal battle with Columbia County can be traced back to more than a decade. In fact, court records show a jury sided with Miller in a suit fiiled against Columbia County in 2010, awarding her $50,000 in damages. In that suit, Miller claims she was subject to false arrest and malicious prosecution.

Though her charges were dropped in the 2013 case, Miller is seeking $500,000 in damages for intentional infliction of emotional distress, malicious prosecution, false arrest and civil rights violations, in addition to $17,600 in expenses for her bail bond and attorney’s fees.

Through her attorney, Tigard-based animal law lawyer Geordie Duckler, Miller claims she was illegally arrested, had her rights violated while in jail, and targeted because of past run-ins with the county.

Columbia County Sheriff Jeff Dickerson could not comment on the pending litigation, but said the county is appealing the Nov. 6 decision.

“We’re appealing the original case,” Dickerson said. “We didn’t agree with the verdict.”

Miller has repeatedly fought the county on other issues in the past related to her request for kennel licensing for a self-proclaimed nonprofit dog rescue operation she was running from her home.

Miller isn’t the only one who’s had recent run-ins with law enforcement. Records show Duckler, Miller’s attorney, was arrested in 2013 in a prostitution sting in Tigard. He was convicted in 2014 and received a warning letter from the Oregon State Bar for his actions.

This story has been updated with new information and comments. JW_DISQUS_ADD_A_COMMENT