By Charlotte Underwood / Staff writer
The two-year-old drunk driving case against a former Whitley County jailer has been continued once again.
Lloyd E. Davenport was set to go to trial on Aug. 8, in Judge Fred White’s courtroom, but the trial was continued due to the Commonwealth Attorney’s wife being on the jury panel.
“It’s an odd situation that sometimes arises,” said Commonwealth’s Attorney Allen Trimble.
He explained that a district court jury panel is chosen every 90 days randomly by computer.
“Once they are chosen, they can’t be excused just because they are a lawyer’s wife,” Trimble said, adding that this was the first time it had happened to him with a personal family member.
Davenport’s lawyer Jane Butcher filed a motion for a continuance based on this fact.
Trimble’s wife goes off the jury panel at the end of Sept., when a new panel will be chosen.
“Because juries are chosen randomly, there is no way to avoid these kinds of complications, it is just beyond anybody’s expectations,” Trimble said.
He said that while a new court date has yet to be set, he expects it to be in early October, since a new jury panel will be chosen at that point.
“This is an oddity because I am a special prosecutor in this district court case,” Trimble said. He usually prosecutes circuit court cases.
Davenport was arrested on May 9, 2010 by Williamsburg Police Officer Brandon White and charged with careless driving and driving under the influence.
As the wheels of justice turned over the two-plus year time-span, the trial was continued multiple times and even dismissed in “error,” according to Trimble, who was named special prosecutor in the case after the Williamsburg Police Department made the request to the attorney general’s office in Dec. 2011.
Williamsburg Police Chief Wayne Bird said he was not surprised that the case was continued once again.
“After two years, we’re kind of used to it by now,” Bird said, adding that he didn’t understand why the case was still dragging on.
“It’s a simple DUI case, we should have had a jury trial on this case long ago,” Bird said. He added that he thought some of the continuances were due to possible health issues on Davenport’s part and that those circumstances were “completely” understandable.
“We’re not cold-hearted, but we do want to see this case resolved in some way,” Bird said.
All the trial continuances have come at a cost to the Williamsburg Police Department. A cost of $881.58 to be exact, according to Bird, who explained that Davenport’s arresting officer had made a total of 21 court appearances for the case including Wednesday’s.
Trimble said that regardless of the case, 21 court appearances was excessive.
“This particular officer hasn’t missed a trial date. Each time he has to go to court, he gets overtime; we’re a small agency and budgets are tight all over,” Bird stated. He said this kind of overtime could be prevented, and that it made it difficult on his department if a situation arose where overtime was needed for an emergency because the department had a set amount of overtime figured into its budget.
Bird said he looked forward to the case being over, one way or another.
“If I take an individual to court on trial and he wins, then fine, that is for a jury to decide, but if the case is drawn out for no apparent reason, well that is not how the system is supposed to work,” Bird said.