Mar. 9, 2012

"Very Tough Love" Update – Lindsey Dills

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Last March 25th, we broadcast a story, "Very Tough Love" about the drug court in Glynn County, Georgia that was run by Judge Amanda Williams. Ira interviewed a number of people who’d faced Judge Williams; most memorable was a young woman named Lindsey Dills. Lindsey forged two checks on her father's checking account for $100 total. She ended up in drug court for five and a half years; 14 months of that was behind bars, including an "indefinite sentence" in solitary confinement, where Judge Williams apparently sent her away with no end date named, prohibiting her from contacting anyone, including her family, her doctor, or her lawyer. She told Ira:

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I was like, "How is this happening? How is this ethical? Where am I? Like am I in a foreign country? Have I killed someone that I don't know about?" Like, "How does what I did merit that type of treatment?" But there's nothing I can do about it. Because I can't even use the phone. I can't even send a letter. I'm like, "Where do they do this?" I've never heard of it and if it's even legal.

Lindsey had been on anti-depressants, which were approved by the court. While in solitary confinement, she says, she ran out. Isolated and alone, as Christmas neared, she snuck a razor and slit her wrists. Again, Lindsey:

"I actually hoped that I would die. But at the point that I figured then, well if I die, great. If I don't, at least someone will freakin' hear me. They'll have to send me somewhere. You know what I mean? They'll have get me some type of help."

In November of last year, Georgia's Judicial Qualifications Commission filed formal charges against Judge Amanda Williams. The first count consisted of 14 charges relating to Lindsey Dills' case and specifically cited her indefinite detention. Read the full document here. In press coverage about Judge Williams, Lindsey's case was frequently cited.

On January 2nd of this year, Judge Williams resigned after 21 years on the bench. In a consent order, she agreed not to seek other judicial offices.

Then, on February 22nd, Glynn County Magistrate Timothy Barton signed an order that released Lindsey Dills from her probation and expunged her forgery convictions from her record. She would've served four more years of probation.

Last week, The Florida Times-Union caught up with Lindsey Dills. Here’s an update on how she’s doing. She's a new mom and happy and drug-free.

Ira says: "Before I found Lindsey, I was in a situation where people would tell me things Judge Williams had done to them, but they wouldn't go on the record. Lindsey was still incarcerated at the time. Her family warned her that there could be repercussions if she spoke to me. But she spoke anyway. It was brave and I was grateful. I think it's because of her that the radio story made such an impression, around the country and especially in Georgia, where a number of well-known lawyers including a former state Supreme Court Justice became involved in the investigation of Judge Williams. I'm really glad to hear the news about her probation. I'm really glad for Lindsey. After Judge Williams stepped down I contacted Lindsey and she told me she was barely following the news. She didn't seem to think she played much of a part in this. Which, I thought, was way better than if she'd been obsessively watching every twist and turn and newsbreak. I'm glad for that too, that she was able to walk away from this bad moment in her life."