Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Errors at Clerk's Office Lead to Arrest

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Errors at Clerk's Office Lead to Arrest

Article excerpt

John Cloud told me his adult son had enough problems without the one he thought the Sarasota County Clerk of Court had just piled on.

It got his son wrongly arrested, he told me.

Cloud owns a pressure-cleaning company that, coincidentally, has been preparing to clean the exterior of the county jail. He asked me to find out what the heck happened that resulted in his son being jailed there, on a warrant saying he failed to appear in court on a vehicle charge.

From what he could tell, the arrest was the result of a courthouse mistake, but one so glaring that even if the clerk's office was being sloppy and careless, it was hard to figure how it would happen.

His son, Chandler Cloud, was driving with an expired tag when a Sarasota Police officer stopped him on Osprey Avenue, in February. The officer wrote a citation that specified a $116 fine.

The citation had a typed-in line that clearly says no court appearance was required. Another line that is part of the generic ticket form instructed the officer to have the recipient sign there if a court appearance was to be required on whatever violation he was charging. There is no signature on that line.

John Cloud says he knows the fine was paid on time because he paid it himself, in person, at the clerk's office. That has never been in dispute.

Yet, a notice was sent -- from the office of Karen Rushing, Clerk of Court -- telling Chandler Cloud a date and time to appear in court before a Sarasota County judge.

That notice was not sent to Chandler's address, which was correctly listed on Chandler's driver license, and which also is the address listed on the citation itself. Instead, the clerk's office addressed it to another street and house number where he had not lived for years. Chandler never got it.

Later, a second notice was sent, this one noting his failure to appear in court. That notice was sent to the same wrong address. …

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