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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. Ah yes... Echoes of 1963 as a ghostly George Wallace makes his stand at the Schoolhouse door. We now know about the stand of personal belief over service to all constituents at the Carter County Clerk door. The results are the same, bigotry unable to follow the directions of the courts and the courts win. Interesting to watch the personal belief take a back seat rather than resign from a perception of local power to make the statement.

  2. An oath of office, does it override the conscience? That is the defense of overall soldier who violates higher laws, isnt it? "I was just following orders" and "I swore an oath of loyalty to der Fuhrer" etc. So this is an interesting case of swearing a false oath and then knowing that it was wrong and doing the right thing. Maybe they should chop her head off too like the "king's good servant-- but God's first" like St Thomas More. ...... We wont hold our breath waiting for the aclu or other "civil liberterians" to come to her defense since they are all arrayed on the gay side, to a man or should I say to a man and womyn?

  3. Perhaps we should also convene a panel of independent anthropological experts to study the issues surrounding this little-known branch of human sacrifice?

  4. I'm going to court the beginning of Oct. 2015 to establish visitation and request my daughters visits while she is in jail. I raised my grandchild for the first two and half years. She was born out of wedlock and the father and his adopted mother wantwd her aborted, they went as far as sueing my daughter for abortion money back 5mo. After my grandchild was born. Now because of depression and drug abuse my daughter lost custody 2 and a half years ago. Everyting went wrong in court when i went for custody my lawyer was thrown out and a replacment could only stay 45 min. The judge would not allow a postponement. So the father won. Now he is aleinating me and my daughter. No matter the amount of time spent getting help for my daughter and her doing better he runs her in the ground to the point of suicide because he wants her to be in a relationship with him. It is a sick game of using my grandchild as a pawn to make my daughter suffer for not wanting to be with him. I became the intervener in the case when my daughter first got into trouble. Because of this they gave me her visitation. Im hoping to get it again there is questions of abuse on his part and I want to make sure my grandchild is doing alright. I really dont understand how the parents have rights to walk in and do whatever they want when the refuse to stand up and raise the child at first . Why should it take two and a half years to decide you want to raise your child.The father used me so he could finish college get a job and stop paying support by getting custody. Support he was paying my daughter that I never saw.

  5. Pence said when he ordered the investigation that Indiana residents should be troubled by the allegations after the video went viral. Planned Parenthood has asked the government s top health scientists at the National Institutes of Health to convene a panel of independent experts to study the issues surrounding the little-known branch of medicine.

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