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Troubled Clark County Drug Court suspended

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Claims that drug court participants in Clark County were jailed for months without cause and subjected to unauthorized searches and arrests by drug court staff have led the Indiana Judicial Center to suspend the problem-solving court in Jeffersonville.

Judicial Center Executive Director Jane A. Seigel on Feb. 14 said in a letter to Clark Circuit Judge Jerry Jacobi that the drug treatment court he oversees was suspended immediately, citing “allegations of unlawful conduct by drug court staff and drug court practices harmful to participants. Regretfully, the seriousness of these allegations necessitates an immediate suspension of Clark County Drug Court operations,” Seigel wrote.

Attorneys familiar with the court expressed concern that problems were significant enough that the program could be ended. Multiple participants were held in the Clark County Jail for months without a hearing or representation of counsel; several were freed in late January after a deputy prosecutor discovered the lengthy detentions.

The Judicial Center has barred the court from accepting new participants and asked Jacobi to submit a list of current participants within 10 days “and requests that you work with our office to develop a plan for the future supervision of each of these individuals.”

Meanwhile, eight plaintiffs alleging federal civil-rights violations have sued Jacobi and numerous court and county officials in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana, New Albany. The suit filed Tuesday also seeks a to establish a class action for drug court participants who were jailed more than 72 hours without a hearing or due process, or were arrested by state actors lacking arrest powers.

The suit alleges four defendants were held more than 60 days without due process, including Destiny Hoffman, who was held 154 days on an initial order of a 48-hour detention. A fifth defendant allegedly was held 30 days without due process.

The suit also alleges that former drug court staff members arrived at a participant’s home last August around midnight and one staff member pointed a firearm at a resident before placing the program participant in handcuffs and taking her to jail.



 



 

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