Judge rules county liable after woman spends 3 months in jail without seeing judge

U.S. District Judge Sharion Aycock ruled Tuesday that Choctaw County and Sheriff Cloyd Halford are liable for violating a Mississippi woman’s constitutional rights after holding her in jail for three months without ever seeing a judge.

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In 2012, Jessica Jauch was arrested for traffic charges and was held after being served with a drug indictment. Ninety-six days later, she was appointed a public defender and quickly made bail. She was later cleared of the drug charge after undercover video didn't show her committing a crime.

While in jail, Jauch says she was forced to temporarily sign over her daughter’s custody rights to her mother.

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Because some rural Mississippi counties circuit courts only meet twice a year, Halford said he didn’t have to take Jauch before a judge until the court met because she had been indicted on a felony drug charge, which gave officials probale cause to detain her.

Judge Aycock originally agreed with that argument, dismissing Jauch’s case in 2016. But the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals was sharply critical of Aycock’s ruling, reinstating Jauch’s case in 2017 and calling her detention “unjust and unfair” and “alien to our law.”

According to The Associated Press, it's unlikely that Jauch will collect money from the judges in the case because judges are generally immune from lawsuits.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.