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February 22, 2018

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Man arrested 11 months ago sits in jail, still awaiting charges


Christopher DeVargas

Jonas Maxwell looks towards his attorney, public defender Robert O’Brien, during a court appearance at Regional Justice Center on Monday, Aug. 19, 2013.

Jonas Maxwell

Jonas Maxwell appears before Judge Eric Goodman at the Regional Justice Center on Monday, Aug. 19, 2013. Launch slideshow »

Jonas Maxwell was arrested by Metro Police 11 months ago for a crime for which he has yet to be charged.

Today he is being held in jail without bail, the sort of situation more often faced by murderers. For now, no amount of money can spring him free.

His alleged offense: taking photographs up women’s skirts, which, depending on how it is charged, is either a gross misdemeanor or a felony. When he was out on bail in that case, he was arrested a second time in April by Metro for the same alleged offense. Charges are yet to be filed in that case as well.

Maxwell’s defense attorney thinks the judge is being a bit hard on his 56-year-old client.

But Las Vegas Township Judge Eric Goodman says he doesn’t trust Maxwell with a camera.

Skirts and cameras aside, at issue is how long a person can be held in jail before formal charges are brought.

Initially, Maxwell paid $2,000 to get out of jail after his arrest in September 2012. But at a hearing in July, the judge learned that Maxwell had been arrested in April for the same allegations.

“Why aren’t you staying out of trouble? Why are you continuing to do this?” an exasperated Goodman asked Maxwell at the time. Maxwell replied only that he was not guilty. Goodman ordered Maxwell to house arrest.

Because Maxwell has failed to complete the necessary house arrest paperwork, the judge last week ordered him jailed without bail until the district attorney’s office files formal charges.

To be released on house arrest, Maxwell would need to sign the paperwork, which, his lawyer said, he won’t do because of his “libertarian mindset.”

Prosecutors have been delayed in following up on both arrests because the analysis of the camera has been delayed by an overworked forensics lab, the DA’s office says.

In court last week, Maxwell’s attorney, public defender Robert O’Brien, pleaded with the judge to let his client out of jail. He said the onus was on prosecutors to bring charges or let the defendant go free.

The public defender’s office has issues with people sitting in jail when they have yet to be charged, O’Brien said.

State law seems ambiguous: “When a person arrested without a warrant is brought before a magistrate, a complaint must be filed forthwith.”

“Forthwith” hasn’t been defined by a court, so it could mean anything, O’Brien said.

The judge wouldn’t budge.

“I guess we’re at an impasse,” Goodman said.

“I don’t like impasses in this courtroom because it means you win,” O’Brien said.

“Yeah, I do win because I’m the judge,” Goodman said.

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