Civil Rights

Woman lost in system serves 154 days instead of 48 hours; prosecutor filed motion to get her out

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Ordered to spend 48 hours in jail in August for violating test rules for her drug program, an Indiana woman was released last week, 154 days later, after becoming lost in the judicial system.

A series of mistakes led to what the special judge who released Destiny Hoffman last week called “a big screw-up,” the News and Tribune reports. The 34-year-old was swiftly freed once a prosecutor reviewing old files on Wednesday noticed that Hoffman was in jail. She filed a motion the same day saying Hoffman’s civil rights had been violated and moved for an immediate court hearing.

“According to the record, no hearing was conducted to determine the validity of such sanction and the defendant was not represented by counsel,” wrote deputy county prosecutor Michaelia Gilbert of Hoffman’s incarceration.

A bond order by another judge in the Clark County Circuit Court case resulted in what was supposed to be a 48-hour jail stay for Hoffman, pending drug evaluation and treatment, “until further order of the court.” But no evaluation occurred and no further order was issued. Because there was no court hearing before Hoffman was jailed, she wasn’t represented by counsel, the newspaper explains.

Nathan Masingo, a Jeffersonville attorney who has served as Hoffman’s public defender in the past said he had no idea she was behind bars. Standard procedure would be to appoint a lawyer and hold a hearing before anyone is jailed, he told the newspaper.

“It is something the court should have known about. Obviously, it fell off their docket, and they just forgot about it,” he said of Hoffman’s five months in jail. He said he expects Hoffman, who has “been sitting in jail without counsel and without knowing what is going on” to file a civil rights lawsuit. He also expects the criminal case against her to be dropped.

The judge who issued the 48-hour hold order could not be reached for comment by the News and Tribune.

Hat tip: Daily Mail.

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