No help for drivers wrongly jailed: I-Team

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CLEVELAND- The FOX 8 I-TEAM has found nothing will be done for dozens of drivers wrongly jailed after a mix-up in Cleveland Municipal Court.

Last month, the I-TEAM revealed a mess that went on for months. The court says it finally found 9,407 drivers were affected, 63 were sent to jail improperly, and 289 paid excessive fines.

The problem developed after city leaders updated more than a dozen traffic charges, but city council did not update the penalties. So, in all of those cases, the maximum penalty should have been a $150 fine.

We went to the chief judge for Cleveland Municipal Court. And we asked what he’d say to someone who’d spent time in jail unnecessarily. Judge Ron Adrine said, "All I can say to them is I'm abjectly sorry.”

Adrine added, "As far as those people who were incarcerated, there's just not much we can do. I can't turn back the hands of time which would be my preference."

Meantime, Judge Adrine and court staff have been working hard to clean up the mess in other ways. The court is paying refunds, ending terms of probation, changing court records to accurately reflect the cases and more. But again, no payback for the jail time.

Demetrius Toles is one of the drivers wrongly sent to jail. He didn’t know he shouldn't have been locked up until he got a visit from the I-TEAM. Toles said, "Quite naturally, it angers me a little bit, well actually a lot, because I lost my job. I had a good job."

Toles admits he’s a convicted felon. But he says he’s been straightening out his life and trying to stay out of jail. The chief judge says drivers locked up when they shouldn’t have been may have to file lawsuits to right that wrong.

Toles isn’t sure it’s worth the fight. He said, “But I'm gonna still try to struggle and do what I gotta do, and do it the right way."

The court says the traffic charges and penalties have been corrected. But court staff is still working to uncover all of the cases affected and how.