COLUMBUS, Ga, (WRBL) — For the second time in a week, a WRBL investigation has found a Muscogee County Jail inmate was not released in a timely manner.
Thursday, WRBL learned that 37-year-old Fredrick Eugene Bailey also spent extra time in the Muscogee County Jail. Domestic charges against him were dropped by the District Attorney’s Office on July 28. Bailey was also being held on a probation violation related the domestic charges. That violation should have been rescinded when the charges were dismissed,.
Because of the dropped criminal charges and the 15-year probation from a 2008 offense, Bailey’s case is a little different than Fletcher’s – and confusing.
July 28 – Bailey’s public defender and the Assistant District attorney announced to Judge Art Smith’s court that the charges were being dropped.
An employee from the clerk’s office was in the courtroom. They stamped it and filed it the same day.
That left the probation violation, which was now moot because the charges that triggered it had been dropped.
Aug. 9 – The probation revocation was e-filed with the clerk’s office.
Aug. 16 – The public defender representing Bailey discovered he was still in jail. He was released the same day.
Fletcher, 50, spent more than two weeks in the Muscogee due to delays in the paperwork getting from the Superior Court Clerk’s office to the jail in a timely manner. Fletcher was released Monday, Aug. 15 after he called his attorney to ask why he was still being held.
Because of that mishap, the Public Defender’s Office began to look at other cases assigned to that office to see if anyone else had slipped through the cracks.
That’s when they discovered Bailey’s situation. He should have been released on July 28, but was not set free until Aug. 16, after the Public Defender’s office notified the clerk’s office of the injustice.
Here’s what Columbus Mayor Skip Henderson says.
“Obviously, that’s not an acceptable situation,” Henderson said. “It’s not. But, the clerk is an elected official. And as such, I have confidence that she’s going to do everything in her power to make sure this doesn’t happen again.”
Superior Court Clerk Danielle Forté says her office has done nothing wrong.
“We did everything by the book,” Forté said.
She was adamant.
“We followed our role in both of these situations,” she said. “That is my position. And that’s what the record reflects. We reviewed the situation and I stand by my statement from yesterday.”
The clerk’s office put in place a system last month where probation revocations need to be presented to the office in person – not through the court electronic filing system.
Danny Porter spent 27 years as the DA in Gwinnett County, and he says the recurrence could be a bigger problem.
“It is certainly troubling because it highlights what appears to be an inherent flaw in the system in Muscogee County on how court orders are transmitted and who’s responsible for getting them where they need to go,” Porter said. “… The likelihood of it happening again is just as high as it was before you discovered these. So, unless it’s fixed you could have it happen again in another week.”