If Jenny Siler’s life were a game of Monopoly, she would not be passing go or collecting $200.
Instead, she would go straight to jail, which is where she is. And that is where Siler will be for a while following Monday’s hearing.
Last month Siler was arrested on narcotics charges.
At that time, she was on bail pending a decision from the state court of criminal appeals on 2005 narcotics charges she eventually plead guilty to.
Siler and her legal team are currently contesting the sentence handed down for those crimes by Criminal Court Judge Shayne Sexton.
Sexton sentenced Siler to eight years of probation. She was to serve four months of that behind bars, with the balance to be served on community corrections, a form of probation. Siler was also told by Sexton she had to perform community service until she found a job.
On Monday, her fate came into question as Senior Assistant District Attorney General Mike Ripley and Siler’s attorney Herb Moncier argued their cases.
Moncier opened his case by asking the judge to set aside the order that initially revoked Siler’s bond. He claimed the district attorney’s office had acted improperly when it filed the petition that incarcerated his client.
“The bail is the discretion of the court,” Ripley countered adding Siler was actually on post conviction relief.
Moncier contended the appeals court had jurisdiction in the matter. He said the motion had been “addressed to the wrong body” when it landed on Sexton’s desk.
As Ripley cited state law that allowed Sexton to address Siler’s bail issue, Moncier continued to disagree with him.
While this argument ensued, Ripley also asked the court to resentence Siler in the original matter.
“It would be like a new sentencing hearing, your honor,” Ripley said.
Continuing with his argument Ripley told Sexton sentencing could be restructured “based on the conduct of the defendant.”
This again brought discord from Moncier.
He contended the general sessions court had reduced Siler’s charges from felonies to misdemeanor charges. However, the district attorney’s office “was racing us to the grand jury” in hopes of having Siler indicted on the felony charges. Ripley acknowledged the case was slated to be heard by the grand jury on Monday.
With Siler’s case being recessed and restarted throughout the day, Moncier and Ripley continued to stand their respective grounds.
As the hearing resumed around 1:30 p.m., the court was notified Siler had been indicted on felony possession of a schedule II controlled substance with intent to deliver and possession of the same drug with intent to sell it. She was also indicted on felony possession of drug paraphernalia and simple possession of a schedule VI controlled substance, according to the indictment.
The judge then asked Ripley if the bail revocation was tied to the new indictment.
Pointing out it was a separate felony offense committed while Siler was on bail, Ripley told the court yes.
“An indictment is no more than a piece of paper,” Moncier said rising to his feet.
He then challenged the validity of the preliminary hearing that enabled Siler’s case to be heard by a grand jury. “This is simply unconstitutional,” he continued adding bail should not be taken away solely because of an indictment.
Moncier then called for a judicial review of Siler’s preliminary hearing.
Sexton asked him if he was challenging the validity of the process that had brought Siler to this point in the court system.
Because the preliminary hearing was not lawful nor was it constitutional, in his opinion, Moncier said that Siler was due the review.
This brought the argument back to whether Sexton had the authority to revoke Siler’s bail following the June arrest. Ripley cited a 1971 court ruling that gave Sexton the authority to remand her even though the appeals court is reviewing her case.
The judge then reminded both sides he had already ruled earlier in the day he did have that power.
Gesturing with his arms, Moncier again raised the issue of the constitutionality of the hearing in general sessions court.
The basis for that argument was that a video now available demonstrated the evidence in Siler’s new case had either been “unconstitutionally” or “unlawfully” obtained by LaFollette Police. Moncier asked Sexton to send the case back to the general sessions judge.
Sexton told Moncier that was adding unnecessary steps to the process. Telling Moncier if believed the discovery of the evidence was flawed, he could file a motion in criminal court to suppress it.
“I suppress it and it’s gone,” Sexton said. The judge deemed Moncier’s suggestion to send the case back to the previous court a “cumbersome way to discover the merits of the state’s case.”
Sexton acknowledged the law that allowed for revocation based on an indictment was “a hard law for a defendant.” But added the law was clear on the subject.
He then revoked Siler’s bail. Sexton also denied Moncier's request to remand the case back to general sessions court.
Not giving up, Moncier asked to be heard on whether the preliminary hearing was unlawful.
He said that could mean the difference in Siler going home and staying in jail.
Sexton said that could be addressed at Siler’s arraignment on the new charges on July 27, the next time he was in Campbell County.
When Moncier asked to have Siler’s case heard sooner, Sexton declined. “That is the only practical date,” the judge said.
“That is a long time away,” Moncier said.
His next move was to ask to have Siler held somewhere other than the Campbell County jail.
The judge said given Siler’s history with local law enforcement he would entertain a motion to have Siler transferred to another facility.