Judge upholds $22 million verdict against Dona Ana County jail

POSTED: 04:19 PM MST Dec 18, 2012    UPDATED: 12:51 PM MDT Mar 19, 2014 
SANTA FE, N.M. -

A federal judge in Santa Fe has upheld a $22 million jury award to a man who was kept in solitary confinement for two years and forced to pull his own tooth after being arrested for drunken driving in Dona Ana County.

U.S. District Martha Vazquez on Friday denied the county's request for a new trial on the damages awarded to Stephen Slevin, of Virginia Beach, Va., earlier this year, saying it was justified by the evidence.

According to the suit, Slevin was in the Dona Ana County jail for 22 months but was never convicted. Attorney Matthew Coyte says he ended up in solitary confinement after someone noted he was suicidal. He was so neglected, Coyte says, he was left in his cell for months at a time, had untreated dental problems and toenails so long they curled under his feet.