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COURT Error left man in wrong lockup



Published: Thu, February 10, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



The judge said it wasn't the first time one of his orders hadn't been followed.

YOUNGSTOWN -- Antonio Hall was supposed to have spent time in state prison for carrying a concealed weapon, but because of a mistake in the Mahoning County Clerk of Courts office, he spent his entire time in the county jail.

Hall, 26, of Parkview Avenue, appeared Wednesday before Judge James C. Evans of common pleas court on his request for early release from his sentence. He was scheduled to be released later this month.

The judge sentenced Hall in August on a probation violation. The judge had given him three years' probation on the concealed weapons charge in January 2003, but Hall committed a domestic violence crime later that year.

Judge Evans sentenced him to one year in prison on the original carrying a concealed weapons charge, subtracting the 135 days he had spent in the county jail awaiting a hearing and sentencing for violating his probation, thus making his prison time about seven months.

At Wednesday's hearing, the judge learned Hall never made it to the London Correctional Institution in London, Ohio.

Judge Evans could not get an answer from the prosecutor's office nor Hall's defense lawyer as to why Hall never left the county jail.

With Hall having nearly served his full time, the judge ordered him to be released.

Looking for answers

The judge said he wanted a written explanation from Clerk of Courts Anthony Vivo and Sheriff Randall Wellington about what happened and what would be done to prevent a reoccurrence.

Judge Evans said this is the third time in the last three or four months that his order to send people to prison had not been followed.

In the Hall case, Kathi McNabb-Welsh, chief deputy clerk of courts, admitted the mistake was made in the clerk's office.

Once a judge orders a person to prison, the clerk's office must complete a document called a warrant to convey to the sheriff, who then has deputies take the person to prison. Such a document is usually done within five days.

"That was not done in this case," McNabb-Welsh said. "It was our mistake. We didn't send the paperwork to the sheriff."

She added that because of staffing problems in the office, only one person is responsible for handling the warrants in addition to other court-required paperwork every day.

"I'm surprised we aren't making more mistakes," McNabb-Welsh said.

Vivo said state law mandates other functions his office must perform, and he doesn't want to be put in a situation of having to prioritize mandates, adding, "That is a dangerous practice."




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