Louisville judge denies motion to release inmates allegedly bein - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Louisville judge denies motion to release inmates allegedly being 'unlawfully' jailed

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – A Jefferson Circuit Court judge has denied a motion by the Louisville Public Defender’s office to release several inmates from Metro Corrections on claims they were being "unlawfully detained."

The defense attorneys have accused Jefferson district court judges of violating state law in setting bonds for hundreds of defendants, but the attorneys focused specifically upon gaining the release of five inmates that were still in jail.

Circuit Court Judge Brian Edwards ruled on Friday, however, that the lower court judges were appropriately denying inmates a $100-a-day credit toward their bond, finding that the judges provided appropriate reasons for denying the credit.

Judges are allowed to deny bail credit if a defendant is a flight risk or a danger to others, among other circumstances.

"This Court does not find that (the public defenders) have demonstrated that the District Court clearly abused their discretion," Edwards ruled.

Josh Abner, a spokesman for the county attorney's office, called the ruling "thoughtful and well-considered."

Edwards, he said, "clearly found these defendants were lawfully detained ... and that courts have the discretion to deny bail credit when they see a danger to the community or to victims.”

Attorney Jay Lambert, with the public defender's office, said they were  "surprised and concerned by the opinion."

"Several issues were misconstrued or left unresolved," Lambert wrote in a statement. "For all the well-documented reasons established by the record, we plan to file a timely appeal. We also intend to litigate in multiple forums the failure to follow the law on pretrial release in Arraignment Court."

The public defender’s office has filed 15 more writs this week asking a different circuit court judge to release inmates for the same reasons. Circuit Court Judge McKay Chauvin will hear those cases on Monday. 

The motions also claim that judges are failing to consider a defendant’s financial ability to post bond in determining release options, which is a constitutional requirement.

But Edwards found in three of the cases that judges did inquire about employment status and provided public defenders because the defendants could not afford to hire a private attorney.

In the other two cases, Edwards ruled the judges should have inquired about the defendants’ financial situation, but public defenders failed to try other remedies, such as asking for a review of the bond.

If Edwards released the inmates, "it would encourage all criminal defendants, dissatisfied with the bond placed upon them at their arraignments" to seek release through the higher court, he wrote.

However, Edwards concluded that district court judges should be considering a defendant’s financial ability to post bond and ensure they make clear the reasons why jail credit is not granted.

The public defender’s office has pointed out that 9,450 defendants were eligible for the bail credit last year, but judges granted it less than two percent of the time.

This is the second set back this week for the office, which had asked Kentucky Chief Justice John Minton Jr. to remove District Court Judge Sandra McLaughlin from handling any arraignments. 

 Minton declined, finding that the office had “failed to demonstrate any disqualifying circumstances that would require the appointment of a special judge.”

The office had asked Minton to remove McLaughlin for alleged misconduct, arguing she was violating state law by refusing to give eligible inmates the bond credit. 

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