Longtime inmate refuses to leave jail for key hearing; judge orders ‘privileges’ revoked

photo by: Douglas County Sheriff's Office

Danny E. Coleman

Danny Coleman, one of the Douglas County Jail’s longest-serving inmates, was set to potentially leave the jail this week.

But, once again, that did not happen, and the judge was none too happy about it.

Coleman, 33, refused to leave the jail to come to court Thursday morning for a key hearing, at which Douglas County District Court Judge Sally Pokorny was ready to consider his request to take back his earlier plea and — if she denied that request — to go ahead and sentence him.

With no explanation from the sheriff’s office other than “he didn’t want to come to court,” the judge dismissed Coleman’s plea withdrawal request because he didn’t show up to make his case. After noting that she’d set aside an hour and a half for the day’s hearing, she rescheduled his sentencing for Aug. 2 and gave him an incentive to show up then.

“He’s inconvenienced the state, he’s inconvenienced his attorney, he’s inconvenienced me for this,” Pokorny said. “I’m ordering the sheriff to put him on administrative lockdown and remove all his privileges until he decides to appear for the sentencing.”

Sgt. Kristen Channel, of the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office, said Thursday that the sheriff planned to meet with the judge to get clarification on her intent regarding the “administrative lockdown” order.

Coleman has been in the jail almost two full years, since Aug. 18, 2016. According to a recent analysis by the Journal-World, he’s among the top five longest inmates in the jail’s custody.

Coleman has been charged in more than 20 district court cases since 2003 and served a web of prison time and probation in the past. He has a batch of eight or so cases still pending. Most — including aggravated robbery, theft, methamphetamine possession and forgery — were filed in 2016, which Coleman spent posting bond in one case only to allegedly commit new crimes and get booked on the next. In past court filings, Coleman’s attorneys have described his challenges as including substance abuse, mild intellectual disability, depression and anxiety.

Coleman did enter a plea, but continued a practice of firing his appointed attorneys, one factor in his sentencing being pushed back month after month. Most recently that was on May 14, when Coleman’s current attorney, Phil Crawford, told the judge that sentencing needed to be delayed because Coleman wanted to take back his plea.

“I think this is the third or fourth time we’ve appeared for sentencing,” Pokorny said that day, before working her way down a packed court calendar and eventually settling on July 12 to try again.

Prosecutor Mark Simpson did nix one earlier date because he’d be out of the office and didn’t want to dump Coleman’s complex sentencing calculations on the person who would be filling in for him.

“It takes me 45 minutes to an hour to get ready every time, to go through all the math,” Simpson said. “I think it’d be hard for somebody else to cover.”

Contact Journal-World public safety reporter Sara Shepherd


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