Bullitt judge orders home incarceration program be returned to jailer
Judge rules jailer, not sheriff and county attorney, should run program at least while lawsuit is pending
LOUISVILLE, Ky., (WDRB) -- A Bullitt Circuit Court judge has ordered that control of the county’s home incarceration program at least temporarily be taken away from the county attorney and sheriff and be returned to Jailer Martha Knox.
Judge Rodney Burress on Thursday granted Knox’s motion for a temporary injunction against county officials, ruling, in part, that under state law the jailer is responsible for supervision of inmates on home incarceration.
Knox filed a lawsuit in October, asking the judge to prohibit Sheriff David Greenwell and County Attorney Monica Robinson from running the program and collecting fees and give control of it back to the jail.
Fiscal Court moved the program to the sheriff's office last summer through several resolutions, but Knox’s attorney, Eric Farris, argued state law requires that such a transfer be done through an ordinance, which is permanent.
Burress agreed, ruling that since Fiscal Court “acted by adoption of resolutions, as opposed to ordinances, this court finds that there is a substantial probability that” Knox will ultimately prevail.
And Burress ruled that the "deprivation" of allowing Knox to perform her duties as a public official "is an immediate and irreparable injury."
Burress ordered that county officials assist in returning the program to the jail and that Knox provide the judge within 48 hours the rules and regulations that defendants in the program will face.
“It is unfortunate that the Fiscal Court, County Attorney and Sheriff would not work with Jailer Knox outside of the courtroom to address any concerns and we look forward to continuing our efforts to put this behind us by engaging in discussions,” Farris said in an e-mail.
In an interview, Robinson said that is "fundamentally not true," saying she and the sheriff have "repeatedly and continuously worked with the jailer for the protection of people in Bullitt County."
Bullitt County Sheriff Dave Greenwell responded via email Thursday night.
"I did not seek the change," Greenwell said. "I will ask the Court for direction on how to follow the order and attempt to fully cooperate and see that monitoring is seamlessly transferred."
There is no date scheduled for the next hearing in the lawsuit.
The HIP program, according to the lawsuit, was run by the jail for years until Fiscal Court handed control to Greenwell during an Aug. 6 meeting.
Robinson, according to the lawsuit, "failed to oppose" the actions of the fiscal court, creating a "substantial conflict of interest," allowing the county attorney to decide who is eligible for home incarceration.
The issue came up in court on Oct. 25
why officials let a convicted felon go without any conditions, despite the judge's order to put the defendant on home incarceration.
Burress angrily implied at the time that Robinson or another official may have committed obstruction of justice or another crime by refusing to put the defendant on home incarceration because the defendant had not paid the necessary fees and administrative costs.
At the time, Burress had ordered the sheriff's department to find the defendant and have the jailer put her on home incarceration and told Commonwealth's Attorney Mike Mann to investigate why she was released and provide him a report.
"I don't know if it's facilitation to escape, I don't know if it's obstruction of justice," Burress said of potential charges for letting Thompson go. "I don't know what the charge is but no one that I've heard thus far had any authority to tell anybody not to follow a circuit judge's order in this county, period."
Mann has declined to talk about whether he ever investigated the issue.
Robinson said that as far as she knows there has been no investigation and she did nothing wrong.
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