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May 13, 2014

Clark County drug court civil suit progresses

Extensions requested by some parties, responses given by others

JEFFERSONVILLE — Several Clark County and state employees listed as plaintiffs in the class action suit claiming misconduct within the Clark County Drug Treatment Program have recently entered new filings in the New Albany federal court case, which is still in its early phases.

The lawsuit was filed by Louisville attorney Mike Augustus and includes 14 plaintiffs who have participated in the drug court program and two making complaints against Clark County Community Corrections. The primary complaints are related to drug court participants being arrested unlawfully and held in the Clark County jail for excessive terms and without the due process of being taken before a judge. There are more than 10 defendants named.

Four of the defendants: Clark County Circuit Court No. 2 Judge Jerry Jacobi; former drug director Susan Knoebel; former circuit court bailiff and drug court field officer Jeremy Snelling; and Clark County probation officer and drug court case manager Josh Seybold have each responded to the complaint by requesting an extension to provide a formal response on or before June 9.

According to the documents, Jacobi is represented in the case by the Indiana Attorney General’s Office; Knoebel and Snelling are each being represented by Indianapolis attorney Rosemary Borek; and Seybold is being represented by New Albany attorney Jeff Lowe.

Borek and Lowe were reached by phone by Tuesday, but each said they would not comment on the ongoing litigation.

The motions to request the extensions were filed in the federal court between May 5 and Monday.

On Monday, several of the other defendants, all represented by Lowe, filed an official response to the case’s complaint.

Those who provided the responses are the Clark County Board of Commissioners [Jack Coffman, John Perkins and Rick Stephenson]; Clark County Sheriff Daniel Rodden; Clark County Chief Probation Officer Henry Ford; Clark County Community Corrections Executive Director Steve Mason; and Clark County Community Corrections Work Release Director Danielle Grissett.

According to the responses filed by the commissioners, Rodden, Ford, Mason and Grissett, all deny any wrongdoing related to the claims of unlawful incarceration or jail terms outlined in Augustus’ voluminous complaint filing.

The responses are not identical, but each contains similar language such as “the defendant denies any of Clark County’s policies or practices have resulted in constitutional violations against the named plaintiffs” and “the defendant is without knowledge or information sufficient to form a belief as to truth of the allegations.”

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