From the Appalachian News Express:
By Russ Cassady, Staff Writer
An independently-created and financed program intended as an alternative to the county’s District Drug Court is under scrutiny.
One participant claims he is being held improperly in the Pike Detention Center.
Angela Darcy, an assistant public advocate, filed a petition late last week on behalf of Dustin Mullins, 22, of Jenkins, a participant in the PAST program — a partnership between Pike District Judge Kelsey E. Friend Jr. and Pikeville Medical Center which is not, like the more widely-known Administrative Office of the Courts-administered drug court programs, overseen or monitored by the state.
The petition, filed against Pike County Jailer Rodney Scott, alleges “it appears (Scott) is currently holding (Mullins) without legal authority in violation of his Kentucky and United States Constitutional rights.” It asks the court to issue a writ of habeas corpus, which would cause Mullins to be released. Click here for rest of story.
In a related story regarding one of the participants in this PAST program at the Appalachian News Express:
PAST prisoner set free
By Russ Cassady, Staff Writer
Days after a Pike man filed a petition claiming he was being improperly held in the Pike County Detention Center, he was released.
Court maneuvers on Wednesday set Dustin Mullins, 22, of Jenkins, free.
Mullins, a participant in an alternative drug court, was jailed in August on an order from that drug court, which is not sanctioned or overseen by the state. The petition questioned the legitimacy of the drug court and orders allegedly issued without respect to Mullins’ constitutional rights.
However, the status of the PAST program remains in question, as none of Wednesday’s hearings resolved the issues contained in the filing. Included in those issues was whether the PAST program is a drug court and able to issue sanctions without holding a hearing.
Mullins was released after two hearings, in one of which Pike Circuit Judge Steve Combs dismissed the habeas corpus filing that brought the case to light, then remanded it to Pike District Court.
The other hearing was held before Pike District Judge Kelsey E. Friend Jr., who began and oversees the PAST program as an alternative to the more commonly known state-sanctioned and overseen drug court program.
In the hearing in Combs’ courtroom, Pike County Attorney Howard Keith Hall announced that his chief assistant, Roger Varney, had worked out a deal in Mullins’ district court case, but said he wants to make clear the prosecution was not “conceding” to the facts contained in the filing.
“We feel like this petition might be an indictment on the drug court system,” Hall told the judge, adding all indications are the PAST program is working.
Mullins entered the PAST program, which is funded by Pikeville Medical Center, as part of a probated sentence on a theft charge earlier this year.