ILNews

Clark County drug court gets conditional approval

Dave Stafford
March 26, 2014
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Clark County Drug Treatment Court participants will continue with programs diverting their criminal cases in favor of treatment, but it’s uncertain whether the troubled program may ever again serve people arrested on nonviolent drug charges.

The Indiana Judicial Center in February took the unprecedented step of suspending one of its certified problem-solving courts. The move came after multiple people were jailed for months without due process and allegations surfaced that drug court staff had made unauthorized arrests or searches of drug court participants.

The caseloads for the court’s approximately 70 participants have been transferred from Clark Circuit 2 Judge Jerry Jacobi to Clark Circuit 4 Judge Vicki Carmichael.

“The participants in the program are still under court orders to do certain things,” said Indiana Supreme Court outreach coordinator Sarah Kidwell. “They’re also still being supervised by case managers.”

Earlier this month, Judicial Center Executive Director Jane Seigel notified Carmichael of the conditions for the court’s continued operations. It cannot accept new participants but has the authority to accept new cases of anyone currently in the program.

Carmichael is to oversee drug court operations and preside over sessions and direct case managers. Additional conditions include:

• A representative of the Clark County prosecutor’s office must attend and participate in weekly team meetings and court sessions.

• A member of the defense bar will serve as an advocate for the legal interests of participants at drug court sessions, and Carmichael will advise each participant of his/her right to legal representation during drug court participation.

• The Judicial Center will review the drug court certification that could include interviews with staff, participants, team members; observation of court sessions and reviews of case management and court files.

• The court’s policies and procedures may be revised to conform with I.C. 33-23-16 governing problem-solving courts.

Kidwell said the Supreme Court, Judicial Center and Clark County court officials are working together, but no plan is yet in place that would lift the drug court suspension. “Any particulars of moving forward are being carefully considered,” she said.

Eight former drug court participants sued Jacobi, various county officials and drug court staff members Feb. 28 and seek to establish a class action in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana, New Albany. The suit, Destiny Hoffman, et al. v. Judge Jerome Jacobi, et al., 4:14-CV-00012, alleges civil rights violations of plaintiffs who said they were subjected to improper detentions, some lasting several months, and other alleged due process violations.

Two Clark County drug court staff members – former director Susan Knoebel, who was fired by Jacobi, and Jeremy Snelling – are named among defendants in the civil suit and have demanded a jury trial.

In the meantime, no disciplinary action related to the drug court had been initiated against Jacobi by the Judicial Qualifications Commission as of March 21. Kidwell said she could not comment about whether any complaints had been received.•

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  1. A traditional parade of attorneys? Really Evansville? Y'all need to get out more. When is the traditional parade of notaries? Nurses? Sanitation workers? Pole dancers? I gotta wonder, do throngs of admiring citizens gather to laud these marching servants of the constitution? "Show us your billing records!!!" Hoping some video gets posted. Ours is not a narcissistic profession by any chance, is it? Nah .....

  2. My previous comment not an aside at court. I agree with smith. Good call. Just thought posting here a bit on the if it bleeds it leads side. Most attorneys need to think of last lines of story above.

  3. Hello everyone I'm Gina and I'm here for the exact same thing you are. I have the wonderful joy of waking up every morning to my heart being pulled out and sheer terror of what DCS is going to Throw at me and my family today.Let me start from the !bebeginning.My daughter lost all rights to her 3beautiful children due to Severe mental issues she no longer lives in our state and has cut all ties.DCS led her to belive that once she done signed over her right the babies would be with their family. We have faught screamed begged and anything else we could possibly due I hired a lawyer five grand down the drain.You know all I want is my babies home.I've done everything they have even asked me to do.Now their saying I can't see my grandchildren cause I'M on a prescription for paipain.I have a very rare blood disease it causes cellulitis a form of blood poisoning to stay dormant in my tissues and nervous system it also causes a ,blood clotting disorder.even with the two blood thinners I'm on I still Continue to develop them them also.DCS knows about my illness and still they refuse to let me see my grandchildren. I Love and miss them so much Please can anyone help Us my grandchildren and I they should be worrying about what toy there going to play with but instead there worrying about if there ever coming home again.THANK YOU DCS FOR ALL YOU'VE DONE. ( And if anyone at all has any ideals or knows who can help. Please contact (765)960~5096.only serious callers

  4. He must be a Rethuglican, for if from the other side of the aisle such acts would be merely personal and thus not something that attaches to his professional life. AND ... gotta love this ... oh, and on top of talking dirty on the phone, he also, as an aside, guess we should mention, might be important, not sure, but .... "In addition to these allegations, Keaton was accused of failing to file an appeal after he collected advance payment from a client seeking to challenge a ruling that the client repay benefits because of unreported income." rimshot

  5. I am not a fan of some of the 8.4 discipline we have seen for private conduct-- but this was so egregious and abusive and had so many points of bad conduct relates to the law and the lawyer's status as a lawyer that it is clearly a proper and just disbarment. A truly despicable account of bad acts showing unfit character to practice law. I applaud the outcome.

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