Com., Dept. of Corrections v. Engle, 302 S.W.3d 60 (Ky., 2010)

George Hurt was convicted of a Class D felony in Letcher Circuit Court on April 22, 2009. Thereafter, Hurt was remanded to the custody of DOC, which made the decision to house him in the Shelby County Detention Center pursuant to KRS 532.100(4)(a).

In the meantime, Hurt was indicted in Perry County and had a criminal proceeding pending before Judge Engle in Perry Circuit Court. On June 1, 2009, Judge Engle issued an order directing DOC to transport Hurt, round-trip, from the Shelby County Detention Center to Perry County for a pretrial conference scheduled for August 12, 2009, and again for a jury trial scheduled to begin on September 8, 2009.

On June 3, 2009, DOC filed a petition for a writ of prohibition in the Court of Appeals pursuant to CR 76.36. In support of its petition, DOC argued that KRS 441.510(2) requires the Sheriff of Perry County to transport Hurt. The Perry County Attorney responded on behalf of Judge Engle. Among other things, he argued that KRS 441.510(2) was inapplicable to state inmates because KRS Chapter 441 is titled “Jails and County Prisoners.”

On August 10, 2009, the Court of Appeals entered an order denying the writ. The court determined that KRS 441.510(2) was “not clearly written because it fails to take into account who is responsible for the transportation of state inmates housed in county jails or detention centers.” The court instead applied KRS 196.030(1)(c), a statute which generally directs the DOC to aid and assist other governmental departments, agencies, and institutions. Based upon KRS 196.030(1)(c), the Court of Appeals determined that the DOC was required to transport Hurt and, it follows, similarly situated DOC inmates. Concluding that Judge Engle was therefore not acting erroneously, it denied the writ. This appeal followed.

In summary, the proper party to conduct the present transport, and the transport of similarly situated DOC inmates, is the sheriff of the requesting county, not the Department of Corrections. Thus, in issuing the transportation order to DOC, Judge Engle was acting erroneously, and the Court of Appeals similarly erred in its interpretation of KRS 441.510(2).

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