WSAZ | Charleston, West Virginia | News

UPDATE: High Court Calls for New Procedures after Mistaken Release

UPDATE 8/8/13 @ 2:40 p.m.
KANAWHA COUNTY,W.Va. (WSAZ) -- A mistake that led a circuit court judge in Kanawha County to release a kidnapping suspect is sparking change at courthouses across the state.

The West Virginia State Supreme Court released its report Thursday concerning Judge Carrie Webster.

Last March, the high court launched an inquiry into Webster's docket to determine if she was following judicial standards. According to the report, the court found Webster didn't make any ethical violations.

However, the court wants to encourage the lower courts to do a better, more contemplative, error-free job with all court documents. The court also recommended the Administrative Director to establish a new operating system for all circuit clerk offices.

The director has launched a new pilot program for 14 counties in West Virginia to roll-out a new single, unified operating system. The system will provide an e-filing system in circuit courts.

The new system will be up and running by sometime next year.

After the pilot period has been completed, every county will be merged into this operating system, at no cost to the individual counties, according to the report.

When the mistake was found, Judge Webster told WSAZ.com she issued an order dismissing only part of the case against Jeremy Carter. In a statement, Webster pointed to the circuit clerk's office for the mix up.



UPDATE 3/11/13 @ 9:40 p.m.
KANAWHA COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Jeremy Carter, an inmate who was released from jail by mistake, was arrested Monday evening, police say.

South Charleston Police arrested Carter about 6 p.m. Monday on a bench warrant.

A Kanawha County circuit judge has come under scrutiny since Carter's release. Carter faces an attempted kidnapping charge.

For more information, see the story below from WSAZ.com's Brook Jarosz.



UPDATE 3/11/13 @ 6:55 p.m.
KANAWHA COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- A circuit court judge in Kanawha County is under fire after a kidnapping suspect was freed by mistake.

Prosecutors fear this isn't the first time a suspect in a criminal case has been overlooked by the judicial system.

Judge Carrie Webster tells WSAZ.com she issued an order dismissing only part of the case against Jeremy Carter. Carter was facing an attempted kidnapping charge and was in jail in lieu of a $150,000 bond.

Webster issued a statement late Sunday night pointing to the circuit clerk's office for the mix up. The clerk's office issued Carter's jail release and says the office has followed proper procedures.

"Up to this point we haven't had any issues with the clerk's office," Prosecutor Mark Plants said. "They've done an incredible job."

Plants points to a bigger problem after WSAZ.com found case after case before Webster where dismissal orders were filed. Prosecutors say these are active cases where accused criminals are in prison, on probation or have warrants our for their arrest. Plants estimates 20 dismissals in recent weeks.

"It's worrisome, to say the least," Plants said. "We've got to go through and make sure that there's no legal ramifications for any of these dismissal orders that were entered."

Webster says she was notified by the prosecutor's office before 5 p.m. Thursday that Carter was released from jail. That's when Webster says she started to prepare a capias to get Carter back in custody.

According to Webster's statement, the order was to dismiss a separate motion for a psychiatric evaluation issued by Carter's attorney for an unrelated fugitive charge. Webster says the motion was never to dismiss the felony charge or to release him from jail.

Webster says she wanted to issue the statement to clarify the facts, but "more importantly to provide leadership and direction to institute procedural charges that can avert a similar situation from happening in the future."

However, another dismissal order involved a convicted felon. Gary Wayne Mullins is a repeat offender convicted of kidnapping and bullying an elderly man. He's still in jail and Webster says she never ordered his release. Webster explained it was only to dismiss part of the case.

Prosecutors say Webster's office has taken back several dismissal orders issued last week and is reviewing them now.

If you want to read Webster's statement click on the link at the top of this article.

Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for the latest information.



ORIGINAL STORY 3/11/13
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- A Kanawha County Circuit Court Judge is speaking out after she mistakenly released an attempted kidnapping suspect from jail.

Judge Carrie Webster issued a statement late Sunday night about the mistaken release of Jeremy Carter.

Carter was facing an attempted kidnapping charge and was in jail in lieu of a $150,000 bond.

Webster says she was notified by the prosecutor's office on Thursday before 5 p.m. that Carter was released from jail. That's when Webster says she started to prepare a capias to get Carter back in custody.

According to Webster's statement, the order was to dismiss a separate motion for a psychiatric evaluation issued by Carter's attorney for an unrelated fugitive charge. Webster says the motion was never to dismiss the felony charge or to release him from jail.

Webster says she wanted to issue the statement to clarify the facts, but "more importantly to provide leadership and direction to institute procedural charges that can avert a similar situation from happening in the future."

If you want to read Judge Webster's statement click on the link at the top of this article.


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