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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. 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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