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Kentucky DOC Cannot Alter Time Served Credit

The Kentucky Supreme Court has held that prison officials lack authority to modify presentencing custody credit.

Peter Bard was charged with murdering a deputy sheriff in 1993 but the charges were dismissed when he was found incompetent to stand trial. Bard was involuntarily committed to a mental hospital for 1,637 days. When he regained competency in 2000, Bard was charged again with the deputy's murder. A jury found him guilty but mentally ill of first degree manslaughter.

The Division of Probation and Parole (P&P) credited Bard with 3,086 days in presentencing custody, including his unindicted involuntary mental commitments.

On April 8, 2002, the trial court sentenced Bard to 20 years with 3,086 days of time served credit. Six years later, the Department of Corrections (DOC) released Bard. However, Bard was again involuntarily hospitalized on a mental inquest warrant.

Several days later, DOC claimed that P&P erroneously granted Bard too much presentencing credit and he should not have been released. As a result, Bard was returned to prison due to "inadvertent release."

P&P then issued an amended time credit sheet, granting credit only for time when he was actually under indictment. This reduced Bard's credit from 3,086 to 1,449 days.

The trial court rejected Bard's reduction challenges, finding that P&P "is the body responsible for calculating and determining" his time served credit. The Court of Appeals affirmed and the Kentucky Supreme Court granted review.

The Court found that the plain language of KRS 532.120(3) and its decisions in Mills v. Commonwealth, 2005 WL 2317982 (Ky. 2005) and Winstead v. Commonwealth, 327 S.W.3d 479 (Ky. 2010), establish "that the responsibility to credit a defendant for presentencing jail time belonged exclusively to the trial court.... No statutory authority or caselaw granted Corrections the power to set or modify presentencing custody credit."

"Because the duty to award presentencing custody credit was vested in the trial court," the Court held that "Corrections was not authorized to modify (Bard's) credit in any way. Its attempt to do so was an invalid usurpation of the power expressly granted to the trial court by KRS 532.120(3)." Accordingly, DOC "lacked the authority to correct the alleged err" and Bard "remains entitled to the 3,086 days of presentencing custody credit awarded by the trial court."

Noting that the trial court loses jurisdiction to amend its judgment ten days after entry, and relying on Viers v. Commonwealth, 52 S.W.3d 527 (Ky 2001), the Court observed that "the trial court also lacks the authority to correct any err in (Bard's) presentencing custody credit." See: Bard v. Commonwealth, 359 S.W.3d 1 (Ky 2011).

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Related legal case

Bard v. Commonwealth