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Thursday, March 13, 2014

Ind. Courts - Clark County drug court back in business, conditionally

Gary Popp of the Jeffersonaville News & Tribune has the long story that begins:

JEFFERSONVILLE — The Clark County Drug Treatment Court is back in session.

The Indiana Judicial Center lifted the program’s suspension, implemented several weeks ago, and has provided a six-month conditional certification. This will allow Clark County officials to properly supervise the nearly 75 participants in the program.

The suspension was put into effect following allegations of misconduct by drug court staff.

Clark County Circuit Court No. 2 Judge Jerry Jacobi oversaw the drug court program, which is the only problem-solving court the IJC has ever decertified in its 11 years of regulating special courts such as drug or veterans court.

After drug court participants’ allegations of mistreatment became public, Jacobi responded by placing his bailiff Jeremy Snelling — who also acted as a drug court field officer — and the drug court program’s director, Susan Knoebel, on unpaid leave Jan. 7. Knoebel was fired weeks later, and Snelling remains on leave.

Allegations of misconduct have included unlawful arrest and incarceration. Others have claimed their due process rights were violated by never being taken before a judge during months-long jail stints.

After the suspension, Jacobi was forced by the IJC to relinquish the drug court, and he handed over the program to Clark County Circuit Court No. 4 Judge Vicki Carmichael.

Carmichael was tasked with honoring the contracts the state and drug court participants had entered.

The contracts require the participants meet certain criteria, such as passing drug screens, attending substance-abuse classes and keeping residence in halfway houses. In turn, the state must offer participants an alternative to prison sentences.

While Carmichael absorbed the program from Jacobi, her court did not have the required IJC certification to fully run the program, such as implementing sanctions following violations of the participants, until recently.

The certification was granted Wednesday when Carmichael, Jacobi, Clark County Prosecutor Steve Stewart and Clark County Chief Public Defender Jeff Stonebraker signed their names on a certification-authorization document drafted by IJC Executive Director Jane Seigel.

ILB: Here is a long list of earlier posts.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on March 13, 2014 07:18 PM
Posted to Indiana Courts