A jury in U.S. District Court in Bangor has cleared Somerset County Jail guards of allegations they violated a prisoner’s constitutional rights.

In a 90-minute deliberation Friday after a four-day trial, jurors unanimously returned with a verdict that guards at the jail had not subjected Robert Goguen to punishment without due process or violated his First Amendment rights.

Goguen, 40, of Bangor, first filed a handwritten complaint against jail officers in 2011 in Somerset County Superior Court, alleging that while being held as a pretrial inmate in the East Madison jail, he had received punishment for breaking jail rules – including being held for two weeks at a time in near-solitary confinement in the maximum security wing – without having gone through the appropriate procedure, including a hearing, that inmates awaiting trial are allowed to have.

Some of the punishment was meted out in retaliation for filing multiple grievances against officers at the jail, Goguen alleged.

His complaint was filed against 10 guards and several higher-ups at the jail and Somerset County, but the court dismissed some of those charges during the four-year course of the case, said Goguen’s attorney, Michael Waxman.

The verdict Friday concerned current and former guards David Allen, Jessica Almeida, Darlena Bugbee, Jennifer Gilblair, Eddie Jacques, Craig Meunier, Keith Plourd and Michael Rizzo.

Peter Marchesi, a Waterville attorney who represented the guards in the case, said he thought the jury saw that the discipline used against Goguen was necessary.

The punishments were not punitive, but “necessary measures taken by the corrections officers to make sure of the safe and secure operation of the jail at all times,” including removing an inmate from the general population because of disruptive and violent behavior, Marchesi said.

Waxman said he thought the verdict showed that the jury didn’t like his client personally or the way he acted in the courtroom, and that jurors were more respectful and reverential to the guards.

He suspects that some jurors might have discovered Goguen was a registered sex offender, and that also could have influenced the case, Waxman said. Goguen was being held on charges including failure to register as a sex offender when he filed his complaint against Somerset.

With that kind of information, someone could “easily make a decision on their emotions and not the evidence presented and not the facts of law,” Waxman said.

The case dragged out in court so long because of Goguen’s legal inexperience and multiple appeals filed by the defendants, going as high as the U.S. Supreme Court, Waxman said.

Goguen represented himself for almost two years after filing the case..

“It’s pretty remarkable how far he got on his own,” he said. Waxman signed on as Goguen’s attorney in July 2013 after the plaintiff asked him to help with appeals.

The guards’ motion for summary judgment was rejected by a magistrate in June 2013, a decision that later was affirmed by another judge after the defendants challenged it. Marchesi appealed that decision to the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston, but it was also dismissed this March. The U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear the case in April.

Peter McGuire can be contacted at 861-9239 or at:

[email protected]

Twitter: PeteL_McGuire