City asks Louisville judge to dismiss contempt case against Metr - WDRB 41 Louisville News

City asks Louisville judge to dismiss contempt case against Metro Corrections leaders

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- City attorneys have asked a judge to dismiss her order for a hearing as to why Metro Corrections officials shouldn't be held in contempt for the "repeated and patterned" failure to follow judicial orders on releasing inmates.

In the order, filed in January, Jefferson District Court Judge Stephanie Burke cited numerous examples of inmates who had either been released too soon or kept in jail after they were supposed to be let out, causing hardship for inmates and a danger to citizens.

But attorneys for the city argue the majority of Burke's claims "are incorrect" and there is "no proof" staffers ignored or disobeyed judicial orders in releasing inmates, according to a March 10 motion.

And the city argues the judge's statements that she is trying to address "leadership problems, systemic problems and protocol problems" at the jail are not contempt issues.

"The Court by its statements has opined that the problem (is) something other than contempt," according to the motion.

The motion by the city includes several affidavits from jail employees, including Bolton, in which he denied "intentionally, knowingly, deliberately or willfully" violating any order from Burke.

Bolton cited one example by Burke, in which a man was sentenced on April 14 by District Judge Anne Delahanty to serve 171 days in jail but was released in error before being arrested four days later. Bolton said he only became aware of the problem after "staff inadvertently released" the inmate.

The March 28 contempt hearing has already been postponed as Burke has a "concern" as to whether the city has a conflict in representing the jail, according to a recent order.

In part, according to court records, Burke believes some prosecutors for the office may be called as witnesses in the contempt hearing.

The city responded there is no rule the county attorney's office should recuse if prosecutors are called as witnesses and it would be "an extraordinary" measure to disqualify the office.

A hearing has been scheduled on that issue for March 20.

Burke has cited 16 specific cases in which Metro Corrections is accused of not following orders, and she argues that between Jan. 4 and Jan. 20 of this year, the jail has failed to bring "numerous" defendants to their scheduled court dates.

The judge also writes in her order that she is only including a "limited number of the incidents" Louisville judges have dealt with in recent months.

Metro Corrections has been under constant scrutiny in recent months for alleged repeated failures to properly release inmates.

The city auditor has started a review of Metro Correction's "inmate release activity" to determine if people are being correctly released from the jail, at the request of Metro Council member David James, D-6th District.

And Metro Corrections began its own internal investigation after the jail kept an inmate in custody five months after he served out his sentence.

Also, attorney for five former inmates have filed a federal lawsuit against the city and Bolton claiming hundreds of inmates have been unlawfully imprisoned by being detained after judges ordered them released.

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