Circuit Court activity in March breaks record for number of new cases filed PDF Print E-mail
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Wednesday, 12 April 2017 13:11



Did it seem as if county newspapers were full to bursting in March with stories about new arrests being made by local law enforcement agencies?

Both The Giveaway and The Scott County Journal/The Chronicle carried a lot of those types of stories. There’s a reason for that, a very good one.

Officers with the two city departments and Sheriff’s Department as well as those with the Sellersburg post of the Indiana State Police made a remarkable number of arrests during March.

In fact, the numbers are so remarkable that this past March set a record for the number of defendants visiting Scott Circuit Court on a wide array of charges.

The State of Indiana adopted a new way of categorizing felony charges in mid-2015. Level 1 felonies are the highest, carrying a sentence of from 20 to 40 years, with an average or advisory sentence of 30 years. A felony which is a Level 6 carries the lowest penalty, six months to 2½ years with an advisory sentence of one year in jail.

Murder is a separate category and carries a range of sentence from 45 to 65 years with an advisory sentence of 55 years.

In March, only one Level 1 felony case was filed, that against Jedidiah Smith, 33, Scottsburg. Smith is charged with several counts of child molesting and sexual misconduct with a minor. His trial date is June 20.

A total of six Level 2 felonies were entered in the court’s docket, two Level 3 felonies, two Level 4 felonies and 15 Level 5 felonies. A total of 62 Level 6 felonies were filed, most of which involve drugs, battery or thefts. Misdemeanor cases filed totaled 49, which means for March alone, the Scott Circuit Court staff recorded 137 criminal cases as well as its other work.

In January and February, the Court added 187 new criminal cases, so for the whole first quarter of 2017, a total of 324 new criminal cases were processed through that courtroom. The Court continues to address some old civil cases as well until all civil matters are transitioned over to Superior Court later this year.

In Superior Court, which as of January 1 is handling all the new civil matters and new juvenile cases, the total of cases filed has reached 298 in the first quarter. That number includes 77 civil collections, 114 small claims, seven civil torts, 24 civil plenaries, 34 dissolutions and 42 juvenile matters.

“Our local law enforcement agencies are working hard to take out the criminals in our county. The Austin Police Department, Scottsburg City Police Department, Sheriff’s Department and State Police are all actively pursuing drug dealers and other criminals in our community. Agencies are utilizing undercover officers and confidential informants to make controlled buys of narcotics, which are leading to search warrants and arrests of drug dealers,” stated Chris Owens, Scott County Prosecutor.

Prosecutor Owens continued, “I have said this before and now the numbers are showing it: If you are selling illegal drugs in Scott County, we are coming after you. We are going to find you, and we are going to get you. It’s only a matter of time.”

Thanks to the efforts of police officers and the Prosecutor’s Office, two individuals recently pleaded guilty to felony drug dealing.

Robert Estep, 53, and his wife, Judy, 61, were selling her prescription pain reliever. Each received a nine-year sentence.

Noted Prosecutor Owens, “By also sending Mrs. Estep to prison for nine years, we have secured a lengthy time in which this pair cannot sell drugs in our community.”