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Ex-prisoner wins judgment by default

Sun., Feb. 7, 2010

Eastern Idaho county vows to fight $2.9 million award

SODA SPRINGS, Idaho – Officials in Caribou County in eastern Idaho say they will file a motion to set aside a $2.92 million judgment against the county obtained by a man who spent an extra five years in prison due to a clerical error.

Lalo Girardo Hernandez recently obtained a default judgment after Caribou County failed to respond to his civil suit within the specified time period.

Caribou County Prosecutor Gregg Haney said the judgment will be quickly appealed and he’s confident it will be set aside because the civil suit by Hernandez was improperly filed.

“We expect that motion to set it aside to be filed in the next week to 10 days,” Haney told the Idaho State Journal. “We’re confident it will be set aside. If this sitting judge in Ada County doesn’t set it aside, we’ll appeal him. For $3 million, we’ll take it all the way to the Idaho Supreme Court.”

Haney said the judgment should be overturned because an action called a service of process needed to be done on a county commissioner or county clerk, rather than the deputy clerk. Haney said the document was never brought to the attention of the county clerk or the commissioners.

He also said the county shouldn’t be held responsible anyway.

“We have a real defense,” Haney said. “What affirmative duty did we breach? Yes, there was an error in the original order of conviction. It was found out about, it was remedied and an amended order was sent to Department of Corrections and that was the last involvement our county had with the situation. We don’t know what happened then.”

Hernandez was sentenced to one year of home confinement and one year of prison in 1998 following a conviction for felony possession of a controlled substance.

However, a different case number was applied to the sentence received by Hernandez. Haney said that was corrected by Judge Don Harding in 1998, but not by the state Board of Corrections.

Hernandez was paroled from prison in 1999 but violated the terms of his parole and, based on the incorrect data with the Board of Corrections, was sent back to prison to complete an erroneous seven-year sentence stemming from the wrong case number. Hernandez was released in 2005.


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