Harpersville man improperly jailed released

Published 3:59 pm Thursday, September 3, 2009

A Harpersville man who spent nearly six months in the Shelby County Jail walked out of the county’s courthouse a free man Thursday after he was granted a writ of habeas corpus.

The court order came after county Circuit Court Judge Hub Harrington found Terrance Datcher had been improperly incarcerated since he was arrested March 18 by the Harpersville Police Department on three felony charges.

Police arrested Datcher on counts of resisting arrest, disorderly conduct and violation of probation. He also was being held on a probation violation warrant from the Shelby County Circuit Courts.

After Datcher was arrested and transported to the Shelby County Jail in Columbiana, Harpersville officials refused to grant the suspect a bond or court date until he paid a $6,000 fine, according to Jim Pino, Datcher’s attorney.

“There literally is no mathematical formula Harpersville could have used to reach a $6,000 fine,” Pino said after Datcher was released. “He was incarcerated until July on county charges, which were later dropped.

“Since July, the only thing that has been holding him in jail has been Harpersville’s refusal to grant him a court date until he paid $6,000,” Pino added.

Although Harrington released Datcher Thursday, the judge ordered the suspect and several Harpersville officials to appear in court for a second hearing, the date of which has not yet been set.

Because Datcher will be free until the hearing, Harrington imposed a restraining order against Harpersville, ordering the city to not arrest the suspect on his outstanding city charges until his next court date.

“I am going to issue a temporary restraining order preventing Harpersville from rearresting him before his next hearing date,” Harrington said. “But the order is only for these charges. If he leaves here today and pulls the same stupid stunt, he will be right back in jail.”

Because Pino claimed there could be more inmates being improperly held in the county’s jail, the attorney said Datcher’s case could set “a very important” precedent.

“Mr. Datcher is indigent and has a severe mental illness. They shouldn’t be able to hold people like that in jail with such an outrageous fine and without even setting his court date,” Pino said. “There may be other people like this incarcerated in Shelby County.

“This is completely unacceptable in a modern civilized society,” Pino added.