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January 30, 2014

Man sits 2 weeks in jail before hearing

State statute requires an initial hearing happen within 72 hours

JEFFERSONVILLE — A New Albany man sat in jail for two weeks before ever being brought before a judge to hear allegations that he violated terms of Clark County’s Drug Court Program.

Nathan Clifford, 40, was booked into the Clark County jail Jan. 16, and his due process rights were violated by not going before a judge until Thursday, says Jeffersonville attorney Nathan Masingo.

Masingo gave Clifford, who was released from jail Thursday, pro bono representation during the hearing in Clark County Circuit Court No. 2 with presiding judge Clark County Magistrate William Dawkins.

State statue requires that someone incarcerated be brought before a judge for an initial hearing within 72 hours of incarceration, excluding Saturdays, Sundays and legal holidays. According to court records, Clifford was scheduled to appear for his initial hearing Feb. 13 — only days short of one month of incarceration.

“They have 72 hours, but they continued to hold him without a bond or bringing him before the court to let him know why he was here,” Masingo said. “It is the court’s duty to bring him up and notify him of his rights as well as the reason for his incarceration. They did not do that.”

Masingo said it was Clark County Circuit Court No. 2 personnel who sets the court calendar, and he said he doesn’t know why Clifford’s initial hearing was scheduled a month after his initial incarceration.

“I can’t explain it,” he said. “My office contacted the court this morning and demanded he [Clifford] be brought up today so we could, at least, establish a bond for him, if nothing else.”

Masingo said he only became aware of Clifford’s incarceration after he received a concerned phone call from Clifford’s father of his son’s extended jail stint.

“Once I reviewed his case, I found out that he was still sitting in jail, and had been, beyond the time allowed for the court to bring him up, and he sat there without a bond,” Masingo said.

Controversy has grown around Circuit Court No. 2 and its judge, Jerry Jacobi, after two former participants of the drug court program, which Jacobi oversees, were released from the Clark County jail last week after being held for months longer than their scheduled sentences. The two were released after the Clark County Prosecutor’s office discovered the error.

Others, with Clifford being the latest, have come forward and are considering civil complaints against the court.

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