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Special prosecutor sought in Clark County Drug Court matter

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Problems in a southern Indiana drug court – including the jailing of multiple people for months without due process – have led to a formal request for a special prosecutor.

Clark County Prosecutor Steven D. Stewart Tuesday requested appointment of a special prosecutor “to avoid the appearance of impropriety during any further investigation and prosecution of this case, if any,” in the case unfolding in Jeffersonville.

Stewart petitioned Clark Circuit No. 3 Judge Joseph Weber to make the appointment. “Indiana State Police … opened an investigation relating to allegations of abuses by officers and employees of the Clark Circuit Court No. 2 Drug Court, including allegations which may constitute crimes under Indiana law,” Stewart’s petition said.

Clark Circuit No. 2 Judge Jerry Jacobi oversees drug treatment court. Jacobi did not return a message seeking comment Tuesday.

At least six drug court participants appear to have been jailed either without representation of an attorney or a hearing, according to IL research and attorneys familiar with the cases. Destiny Hoffman’s detention came to light last week after a deputy prosecutor discovered during a review of case files that Hoffman had been jailed more than 150 days after Jacobi had ordered her detained for 48 hours for providing a diluted drug screen.

The deputy prosecutor also turned up at least two other cases in which drug court participants had been ordered jailed pending placement in a treatment facility or as a 48- to 72-hour sanction for a violation, but wound up spending months behind bars.

Charges against Hoffman and at least two others were dropped after the detentions were discovered.

Louisville attorney Michael Augustus said Tuesday he is representing at least five people who claim civil rights violations connected to the alleged drug court abuses.

In addition to improper detentions, current and former drug court staff members have been accused of unauthorized arrests and searches of drug court participants. Jacobi recently fired drug court director Susan Knoebel and suspended a drug court staff member, both of whom were accused of carrying out the arrests and searches. Knoebel told the News and Tribune of Jeffersonville she was acting on Jacobi’s orders.
 
Watch for more on the Clark County Drug Court in the Feb. 12
Indiana Lawyer.

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  1. Unfortunately, the court doesn't understand the difference between ebidta and adjusted ebidta as they clearly got the ruling wrong based on their misunderstanding

  2. A common refrain in the comments on this website comes from people who cannot locate attorneys willing put justice over retainers. At the same time the judiciary threatens to make pro bono work mandatory, seemingly noting the same concern. But what happens to attorneys who have the chumptzah to threatened the legal status quo in Indiana? Ask Gary Welch, ask Paul Ogden, ask me. Speak truth to power, suffer horrendously accordingly. No wonder Hoosier attorneys who want to keep in good graces merely chase the dollars ... the powers that be have no concerns as to those who are ever for sale to the highest bidder ... for those even willing to compromise for $$$ never allow either justice or constitutionality to cause them to stand up to injustice or unconstitutionality. And the bad apples in the Hoosier barrel, like this one, just keep rotting.

  3. I am one of Steele's victims and was taken for $6,000. I want my money back due to him doing nothing for me. I filed for divorce after a 16 year marriage and lost everything. My kids, my home, cars, money, pension. Every attorney I have talked to is not willing to help me. What can I do? I was told i can file a civil suit but you have to have all of Steelers info that I don't have. Of someone can please help me or tell me what info I need would be great.

  4. It would appear that news breaking on Drudge from the Hoosier state (link below) ties back to this Hoosier story from the beginning of the recent police disrespect period .... MCBA president Cassandra Bentley McNair issued the statement on behalf of the association Dec. 1. The association said it was “saddened and disappointed” by the decision not to indict Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson for shooting Michael Brown. “The MCBA does not believe this was a just outcome to this process, and is disheartened that the system we as lawyers are intended to uphold failed the African-American community in such a way,” the association stated. “This situation is not just about the death of Michael Brown, but the thousands of other African-Americans who are disproportionately targeted and killed by police officers.” http://www.thestarpress.com/story/news/local/2016/07/18/hate-cops-sign-prompts-controversy/87242664/

  5. What form or who do I talk to about a d felony which I hear is classified as a 6 now? Who do I talk to. About to get my degree and I need this to go away it's been over 7 years if that helps.

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