Judges accused of violating inmates' rights - wave3.com-Louisville News, Weather & Sports

Judges accused of violating inmates' rights

Judge Sandra McLaughlin (right) (Source: Jefferson County District Court) Judge Sandra McLaughlin (right) (Source: Jefferson County District Court)
District Court Chief Judge David Holton (Source: WAVE 3 News) District Court Chief Judge David Holton (Source: WAVE 3 News)

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - A Jefferson County District Court judge is in hot water for comments she made during an arraignment.

"They're trying to get more people to do bail credits," a woman said to Judge Sandra McLaughlin. "That's not going to happen. What's the other option?" McLaughlin responded.

Those comments, led to a complaint against McLaughlin for not considering giving an inmate jail-time credit towards his bond as mandated by state law.

McLaughlin faces a hearing on Friday, but she is not the only judge under scrutiny by the Public Defender's Office. They have submitted video after video as alleged proof that district court judges were violating inmate's rights.

The Public Defender's Office has filed 17 Habeas Corpus petitions, which looks at whether the inmates were held in jail illegally.

They said it's a two pronged problem.

First they complain inmates were not ever being asked how much they can afford to pay for bond -something the judge then is supposed to consider. The second problem, they allege, is that judges almost always denied bail credit, that's when an inmate earns $100 toward their bond for every day they serve in jail.

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The result, according to public defenders, the poor were being kept in jail.

"When I set a bond, I take it very seriously," District Court Chief Judge David Holton said.

Holton said not everyone should be granted bail credit, or lower bond amounts.

"I think people in this county can trust and do trust their judges to set fair bonds based on the cases that are before them," he said.

Of those 17 petitions, we found six charges were for felonies like wanton endangerment, receiving stolen property and promoting contraband, the rest were for misdemeanors but the chief judge said that shouldn't fool anyone.

"A third offense DUI is a misdemeanor, a domestic violence assault is a misdemeanor, you better bet that I am going to set an adequate bond on charges like that," Holton said.

Out of the 17 people they have submitted petitions about, five of them are still in jail.

The complaints claim that in one entire week's worth of arrangements, only one person was asked how much he could afford to pay. As for bail credit, from September of last year to September of this year, less than 2 percent of people were granted that credit.

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