From the Office of the Commonwealth’s Attorney. Please see our Media Releases page at louisvilleprosecutor.com/media-releases for more details and archives.
OFFICE OF THE COMMONWEALTH’S ATTORNEY
COMMONWEALTH OF KENTUCKY
30th JUDICIAL CIRCUIT
THOMAS B. WINE, COMMONWEALTH’S ATTORNEY
Media Release: January 22, 2018
Today Jefferson Circuit Judge Ann Bailey Smith declined to order the release of twenty-two defendants currently being held in the Louisville Metro Department of Corrections as requested in a Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus filed on their behalf by the Office of the Louisville Metro Public Defender.
In the petition filed Friday, January 22, 2018 the Public Defender Jay Lambert asked the judge to order the release of the defendants because one of the persons sitting on the grand jury which returned indictments against them was not a resident of Jefferson County and therefore not qualified to sit on the grand jury panel. The petition argued that the participation of an “unqualified” person in grand jury deliberations rendered their indictments “void and without effect.”
The judge determined that the issue was moot and did not require her to act since the Jefferson County Grand Jury had reheard these cases and returned new indictments against each of the defendants.
The controversy regarding these indictments arose last week when the Commonwealth Attorney’s Office learned that one of the grand jurors sitting on the January grand jury panel was actually a resident of Bullitt County and had initially failed to make that known when the Grand Jury Judge and the Commonwealth Attorney’s office conducted their usual juror qualification inquiry. As soon as the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office learned of this issue it immediately notified the Grand Jury Judge and the defendants’ attorneys and scheduled new grand jury presentations of their cases in order to avoid any challenge to their prosecutions.
Commonwealth Attorney Tom Wine stated “We’ve never had something like this happen before, but as soon as the problem was discovered our staff acted promptly to bring the matter to the attention of the proper parties and to see that the cases were properly reheard.”
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The Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office occupies a critical position in the criminal justice system. Commonly referred to as the District Attorney in most states, the Commonwealth’s Attorney must focus the power of the state on those who defy its laws. As legal representative for the people, the Commonwealth’s Attorney has the duty to seek justice for all.
Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney
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Louisville, KY 40202