Louisville judge rips defense attorneys in denying release of inmates
"The acerbic and disrespectful tone of the (motion) directed at the District Court Judge is unnecessary, unwarranted and most unwelcome," Judge McKay Chauvin wrote on Wednesday.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – A second 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."
Jefferson Circuit Court Judge McKay Chauvin ruled district court judges had acted properly in denying inmates a $100-a-day credit toward their bond, finding that the judges provided appropriate reasons for not giving the credit.
And Chauvin also criticized the office for its specific claims that District Court Judge Sandra McLaughlin had said from the bench that she would never give the bail credit. The office unsuccessfully sought to have her removed from handling any arraignments.
"The acerbic and disrespectful tone of the (motion) directed at the District Court Judge is unnecessary, unwarranted and most unwelcome," Chauvin wrote on Wednesday. "This is, at best, poor form."
The public defender's office, which represents defendants who cannot afford an attorney, had pointed to a conversation McLaughlin had in her court last month, after the office had filed a motion accusing district court judges of violating House Bill 463 regarding bond credit.
"What are they saying now?" McLaughlin asked shortly before her arraignment docket began, referring the court motion.
"They're trying to get more people to do bail credits," a woman sitting near the judge responds, according to a video of the hearing.
"Well, that's not going to happen," McLaughlin said.
Public defender Jay Lambert said during a court hearing that McLaughlin "pre-determined," before arraignments began, that she wouldn't be giving anyone the bail credit.
But Chauvin called that an "off-hand comment" and said the public defenders failed "to provide the statement in its entirety" and put it in context.
"In an adversarial system it is neither unexpected nor unusual for parties to disagree …. Sometimes vehemently … as to the correct interpretation of facts or application of law," Chauvin wrote. "However, zealous advocacy neither mandates nor warrants impugning the motives and integrity of those with whom we disagree."
Lambert said in a statement that the office is disappointed in the ruling and that McLaughlin has for years not allowed the bail credit, which is not addressed in the decision.
"This is not about the reasoned exercise of discretion in particular cases," he said. "It is about the denial of bail credit in essentially all cases without regard to the facts of a case or the defendant. The prospect of a given defendant receiving genuine consideration for bail credit in front of Judge McLaughlin is essentially zero. In the context of her ongoing actions in refusing to ever award bail credit, it is misleading to conclude that her comments were taken out of context without regard to her demonstrated history and it is regrettable that the opinion engages in the sort of rhetoric it condemns."
Lambert said the office will appeal the decision.
Kentucky Chief Justice John Minton Jr. denied a request to remove McLaughlin from handling any arraignments, finding that the office had "failed to demonstrate any disqualifying circumstances that would require the appointment of a special judge."
Last month, Circuit Court Judge Brian Edwards also ruled that the lower court judges were appropriately denying inmates the credit.
Judges are allowed to deny bail credit if a defendant is a flight risk or a danger to others, among other circumstances.
Several other motions for release of inmates are pending before another circuit court judge.
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.
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