A third Louisville judge has denied motions by defense attorneys - WDRB 41 Louisville News

A third Louisville judge has denied motions by defense attorneys to release inmates

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – A third 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 Judith McDonald-Burkman ruled on Friday that district court judges had acted properly in denying 11 inmates a $100-a-day credit toward their bond, finding that the judges provided appropriate reasons for not giving the credit.

In addition, McDonald-Burkman incorporated into her order a conclusion by Circuit Court Judge McKay Chauvin that public defenders were wrong for claiming a district court judge had said from the bench that she would never give the bail credit.

The office unsuccessfully sought to have District Court Judge Sandra McLaughlin 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 last week. "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 her order, McDonald-Burkman said she had reviewed "the entire video and written record" of each arraignment in front of McLaughlin that day and had come to the same conclusion as Chauvin.

In a statement, Lambert said they will appeal McDonald-Burkman's ruling. 

"The record is absolutely clear that various District Court judges are refusing to meaningfully consider bail credits and are even refusing to provide written reasons for their rulings," he said. "This is contrary to the statute and sooner or later a court will have to address the substance of the issue. Unfortunately, Judge McDonald-Burkman avoided the issue."

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.

The public defender’s office has appealed Edwards’ order and arguments are expected to be heard later this week.

The 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. McLaughlin has only granted the credit once, after the issue came to light, Lambert has said. 

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