By GARY POPP
Editor’s note: This is an updated version of the original story.
A participant of the Clark County Drug Court Treatment Program sentenced to 48 hours in the Clark County jail was released from the facility Thursday — 154 days after being placed behind bars.
Destiny Hoffman, 34, Jeffersonville, was ordered to serve two days in jail on Aug. 22 by Clark County Circuit Court No. 2 Judge Jerry Jacobi.
The sentence came after Hoffman provided a diluted drug screen result, a violation of the drug court program, which Jacobi oversees.
Jacobi instructed the Clark County Sheriff’s Office through a bond notice to hold Hoffman under no bond and for her “to be held until further order of the court.”
But Jacobi never issued that order, and Hoffman remained behind bars for more than five months.
Even though Hoffman was released from the jail Thursday, she has said she may seek a civil suit against Clark County, resulting in another black eye for the embattled drug treatment program.
According to court records, after Hoffman’s two-day jail sentence, she was to be “[held] pending evaluation and treatment recommendation,” but that evaluation or recommendation never took place.
Records show Jacobi ordered Hoffman’s incarceration without a hearing or legal counsel.
It is unknown how much longer Hoffman would have remained in the jail had it not been for the efforts of Clark County Deputy Prosecutor Michaelia Gilbert, who first questioned the woman’s incarceration while reviewing old case files Wednesday.
Later in the day, Gilbert entered the motion for an immediate status hearing. According to the motion Gilbert drafted, Hoffman’s civil liberties were violated by the term of incarceration.
“ ... the Defendant [Hoffman] has remained in the custody of the Clark County jail without a due process hearing as the Clark County Drug Treatment Court has failed to bring the Defendant to Court for any hearings regarding the status of her case and/or treatment possibilities,” Gilbert noted in the motion.
The document also reads: “According to the record, no hearing was conducted to determine the validity of such sanction and the Defendant was not represented by counsel.”
After Gilbert filed the motion Wednesday, a hearing was held Thursday in Clark County Circuit Court No. 2. Jacobi was not present during the hearing, however, and Special Judge Steve Fleece presided.
During the hearing, Hoffman was represented by Jeffersonville attorney Nathan Masingo, who previously served as her public defender.
In open court, Fleece called Hoffman’s incarceration “a big screw up.”
When the judge asked Hoffman, who wore a green jumpsuit and rubber sandals, why she didn’t notify officials of her unlawful incarceration, she declined to comment.
Fleece order Hoffman be released from the jail following the hearing.
“An attorney should have been appointed for her,” Masingo said, had a hearing taken place after the drug court program violation that led to Hoffman’s loss of liberty. “What should of happened is I should have been reappointed to the case. I had no knowledge that she was even back in jail.”
Masingo explained that after an offender enters the drug court program, public defenders withdraw from the then-drug court particpant’s case, but when a person faces incarceration, legal representation should be provided.
Fleece reappointed Masingo to serve as Hoffman’s representation during the hearing.
Masingo said Hoffman’s unlawful incarceration could result in a civil suit for Clark County.
“I would expect this will result in a lawsuit for the county,” he said. “I think from talking with my client, that’s her intention, at least. I can’t comment if there is a case there or not.”
A lawsuit would add to the controversy surrounding Jacobi and the drug treatment program. The Clark County prosecutor’s office is expected to determine in the near future if criminal charges are appropriate for two drug court program employees, Susan Knoebel and Jeremy Snelling, who were placed on unpaid leave Jan. 7 and continue to be on suspensions.
As Jacobi was not in court Thursday, he was not reached for comment on Hoffman’s incarceration.
“I can’t explain it,” Masingo said about how Hoffman ended up in jail so long. “It is something the court should have known about. Obviously, it fell off their docket, and they just forgot about it.
“For the last several months,” he added, “she has been sitting in jail without counsel and without knowing what is going on.”
A pretrial hearing concerning the matter will be held Monday in the Office of the Clark County Prosecutor.
“The prosecutor and I are going to go over her options, but we expect she will be released from the drug court and all charges will be dropped,” Masingo said.