Inmate violates Judge's order multiple times

Wanda English Burnett
Staff Writer

A domestic dispute last August landed an Osgood man in the hospital, then in jail, and now in more hot water with a consistent violation of the Judge’s No Contact Order.

This stemmed from an incident where Clifford “Doc” Winters of Osgood, is accused of being involved in a violent domestic dispute, then shooting himself before he could be taken into police custody. He was airlifted by PHI to University Hospital in Cincinnati, according to Ripley Publishing Co. files.

After Winters was released from the hospital in September, he was arrested and charged with Serious Violent Felon in Possession (of a gun), a Class B Felony; Strangulation, a Class D Felony, and Domestic Battery in the Presence of Children, a Class D Felony.

Ripley County Circuit Court Judge Carl Taul issued a No Contact Order on September 21, 2009, in regard to the victim in the case.

Winters posted bail on October 26, 2009, but was rearrested for violating the No Contact Order and charged on December 4, 2009 for Invasion of Privacy, which is a Class A Misdemeanor. At that time the State filed a motion for Increase of Bail. The bail was set at $10,000 cash and Winters remains incarcerated at the Ripley County Jail.

Recently, Ripley County Prosecutor Ric Hertel learned that Winters had not been abiding by the No Contact Order, but has in fact violated it in excess of 250 times by calling the victim from the jail.
The prosecutor filed a motion that noted in part that “these continual violations of the Court’s Order are damaging to the Prosecution; constitute an ongoing criminal offense; as well as show an overall disdain for the Court’s authority.”

At the hearing, which was held Thursday, January 28 at 10 a.m. in the circuit court, Judge Carl Taul agreed that Winters could not have any contact with the victim in this case.

Even to the argument of Winters’ attorney, Mark Jones, who said the victim wants contact with his client, Judge Taul said it didn’t matter because she is a material witness in the ongoing court case.

Prosecutor Hertel asked that Winters either be denied all phone privileges or be removed from the local jail and taken to the Indiana Department of Corrections where he could be more properly monitored.
A jailer with the Ripley County Jail was in the courtroom and noted that the way the phones are located in the open cell blocks it would make monitoring almost impossible.

While the Judge was reluctant to immediately send Winters to the Indiana Department of Corrections, saying it would make it harder for him to communicate with his attorney, he did tell him he would have no problem doing just that if the defendant violates the No Contact Order again. “If there is another occurrence Mr. Winters, you will go to the Indiana Department of Corrections,” Judge Taul instructed the defendant. The Judge ordered Winters to have phone privileges only to his attorney.

Winters told the court, “You have my word on it,” (that he would not violate the order again). Judge Taul stressed no contact means no contact, either in person, on the phone, or in writing. He further noted that the defendant could be charged with over 250 counts of Contempt of Court, which would be 250 x 180 days of incarceration.

In the hearing the prosecutor said he wasn’t as optimistic about Winters keeping his word as the defense attorney was. He said Winters has shown utter disregard for the court’s authority. He said he felt there would be better monitoring at the IDOC that would result in repercussions. The prosecutor noted that it is apparent from the 200 plus calls already made that the jail is ill equipped to monitor the calls.

Hertel’s motion noted “that despite the Court’s No Contact Order and despite requests by the Prosecuting Attorney, the Ripley County Sheriff’s Department has refused/declined to enforce this Order.” He said he didn’t feel comfortable with Winters still having any phone privileges.

Ripley County Sheriff Tom Grills told the Osgood Journal there were reasons for how the situation was handled, but could not comment on the advice of his attorney.

A trial date for the initial charges for Winters has been set for February 23-25.