Jessica Jauch was held for 96 days in a Mississippi jail without seeing a judge, getting a lawyer or having a chance to make bail. Pulled over for traffic offenses on April 26, 2012, Jauch was held thereafter because prosecutors relied on the word of an unnamed informant who said Jauch sold her eight Xanax pills for $40 in February 2011, according to court papers.
In fact, a Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics video showed Jauch asking to borrow the $40. But no one knew that because investigators and prosecutors apparently never watched the video before persuading the grand jury to charge her with selling a controlled substance and she wasn’t arraigned until the next court term in Choctaw County, three months later. Jauch posted $15,000 bail and was released Aug. 6 after she finally got a lawyer. Once the assistant district attorney watched the video, he immediately agreed to drop the charges, Public Defender Hays Burchfield wrote. Once freed, the 34-year-old mother sued, alleging violations of her rights to bail, legal representation, a speedy trial and liberty.
Choctaw County Sheriff Cloyd Halford, told the federal judge that “Jauch states a plausible case for multiple constitutional deficiencies,” but their motion blamed circuit judges and the district attorney. “It is the court’s obligation to afford her an opportunity before the judge,” Halford told The Associated Press after the case was dismissed. “In layman’s terms, I can’t call the court and talk to the judge and tell them I’ve got somebody and you need to arraign them.”
But a federal judge dismissed Jauch’s case last month, ruling that because she had been indicted by a grand jury on the felony drug charge, none of her constitutional and legal rights were violated. U.S. District Judge Sharion Aycock ruled that people in Jauch’s situation aren’t required to get a court hearing within 48 hours, and that her right to a lawyer was satisfied by the appearance of a public defender at her arraignment, 96 days after her arrest. “Put simply, the plaintiff was arrested and held on a valid felony grand jury indictment that established the existence of probable cause,” Aycock wrote. “Therefore, the Fourth Amendment is not implicated here.”
To sum up – an innocent woman was:
1) Wrongfully accused and arrested for a crime she didn’t commit,
2) Wrongfully held for 96 days in jail,
3) Given no opportunity to get an attorney of her own,
4) Given no opportunity to make bail, and
5) Deprived of her right to a speedy trial. And according to a Federal Judge, NO ONE IS TO BLAME. This isn’t justice. This is just wrong.
Source: Associated Press news article reported by Jeff Amy in Ackerman, Mississippi.