published Thursday, September 20th, 2012

Judge rules woman shackled during labor can pursue ’U visa’

Juana Villegas wears handcuffs while demonstrating outside the Tennessee Supreme Court building in Nashville.
Juana Villegas wears handcuffs while demonstrating outside the Tennessee Supreme Court building in Nashville.
Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

NASHVILLE — A federal judge has ruled that a Nashville woman who won a civil lawsuit against the Davidson County Sheriff’s Office for being shackled by deputies during labor can pursue a visa reserved for crime victims.

U.S. District Judge William Haynes Jr. issued his ruling on Thursday in the case of Juana Villegas, who was arrested in July 2008 on a minor traffic violation. The charges were later dropped, and a jury awarded her $200,000 in damages.

Villegas testified that her wrists and ankles were bound during an ambulance ride from the jail to the hospital.

In his ruling, Haynes said Villegas has met a minimum burden for a “U visa.”

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service will have the final say as to whether she should get one.

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