Kentucky Corrections Commissioner Found In Contempt

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) - The head of the Kentucky Department of Corrections was found in contempt of court Friday for not following a court order to release an inmate.

Commissioner John Rees "willfully violated" a court order from last month when he refused to release inmate Daniel Ottman, Jefferson Circuit Court Judge Judith McDonald-Burkman said in a hearing. She's expected to rule on Rees' sentence next week - which could be a fine or jail time.

Rees said the department would appeal McDonald-Burkman's decision.

"I personally feel I was correct," Rees told The (Louisville) Courier-Journal outside the courtroom.

Rees was ordered in June to release Ottman. But, Rees claimed the 18-year-old was not eligible for shock probation - a form of early release - because he was convicted of a violent offense, first degree assault.

Under Kentucky law, adults convicted of violent offenses are not allowed shock probation. But, there is an exception under a 2006 Kentucky Court of Appeals ruling that allows it for juvenile offenders. Ottman was a juvenile when he was arrested.

McDonald-Burkman said Ottman should be eligible for shock probation while the state Supreme Court reviews the decision in the other case.

This marks at least the second time Rees has disobeyed a judge's order in recent months to release a juvenile on shock probation. Rees said judges sometimes make mistakes.

Rob Eggert, Ottman's attorney, said Rees should comply.

"You cannot just decide, 'I'm not going to obey the order," Eggert said during the hearing.

Eggert said Rees should be sentenced to six days in jail. That's the same amount of time Ottman spent in jail after he was ordered released.
Information from: The Courier-Journal,

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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