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Tuesday, February 04, 2014

Ind. Courts - "Special prosecutor to decide on Clark County Drug Court investigation"

Updating earlier ILB entries about the Clark County drug court, the most recent being this one from Feb. 1st, Gary Popp of the Jeffersonville News & Tribune reported last evening:

JEFFERSONVILLE — Clark County Prosecutor Steve Stewart has deferred to a special prosecutor to determine if criminal charges will be issued against Clark County Drug Court Treatment Program personnel who are subjects of an Indiana State Police investigation.

Stewart filed a petition for the appointment of a special prosecutor with the Clark County Clerk’s Office Monday.

Before filing the petition, Stewart said his office had received a “nearly complete” investigation from ISP related to possible criminal misconduct of drug court employees. * * *

In early January, News and Tribune revealed an investigation by Fleeman Investigations Inc., a private firm hired with taxpayer dollars to look into two field visits made by Knoebel and Snelling. One of the incidents involved a visit to a drug participant’s home and the other to a participant’s place of work.

Stewart said, however, that the ISP investigation incorporates more than the two field visits cited in the Fleeman investigation that were carried out with no law enforcement officials present.

“It [the ISP investigation] definitely includes more [than the two field visits],” he said, adding that ISP has looked into alleged due process violations that include drug court program participants’ lengthy terms in the Clark County jail without being brought before a judge or provided legal counsel.

Allegations have surfaced of drug court participants being unlawfully incarcerated and stripped of their due process rights, including the case of Destiny Hoffman, who was jailed for nearly five months without seeing a judge.

Stewart said that the ISP investigation has looked into possible violations that could lead to civil actions, but those alleged violations are separate from the criminal allegations that the special [state] prosecutor would be tasked with determining whether or not to issue criminal charges.

“I think it is important to get an overall picture of the officers and the employees of the drug court and what their MO [method of operation] was in dealing with the drug court participants,” Stewart said. “That is why everything is on the table for them [the ISP].

Stewart said the appointment of the special prosecutor will be held in Judge Joe Weber’s Clark County Circuit Court No. 3.

Stewart had the option to file the petition in any of the county’s four circuit courts, excluding Judge Jerry Jacobi’s Circuit Court No. 2, because his court oversees the drug court program.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on February 4, 2014 09:00 AM
Posted to Indiana Courts