Judge Adds More Time to Former Putnam County Sheriff’s Sentence in Excessive Force Case

Judge Adds More Time to Former Putnam County Sheriff's Sentence

Judge Adds More Time to Former Putnam County Sheriff's Sentence
Judge Adds More Time to Former Putnam County Sheriff's Sentence

Judge Jane Magnus-Stinson added more time to a former sheriff and city councilman’s sentence Monday in a resentencing hearing. The U.S. Chief District judge resentenced TJ Smith to 33 months on two counts of “deprivation of civil rights under the color of law.”

“Our primary goal in prosecuting and re-sentencing TJ Smith was that he be treated fairly.  Simply put, TJ Smith should not receive favorable treatment from the criminal justice system because of his status as a law enforcement officer or his political connections in Putnam County.  We are confident that the federal law was fairly enforced in this case and that Judge Magnus-Stinson’s sentence of 33 months makes that message crystal clear,” said United States Attorney Josh Minkler in a press release.

Minkler lauded the judicial process stating “The public has a right to expect better from their law enforcement officers. It is certainly a tragedy when a law enforcement officer with a family chooses to violate the civil rights of our citizens, but it would be a far greater tragedy if T.J. Smith was not held fully accountable for his unlawful use of force in this case.”

TJ Smith was convicted in December 2014 of battering two handcuffed suspects in Greencastle Indiana.  Smith allegedly punched a victim in the face after officers secured the victim resulting in serious bodily injury. Smith also threw a handcuffed person to the ground and drove his knee into that person’s back while lying on the ground in another incident reports the FBI.

The presiding judge over the initial case, William T. Lawrence, issued a 14 month imprisonment. The U. S. Attorney’s Office of the Southern District appealed the sentence to the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeal in Chicago. They argued that the sentence was unreasonably low. The Seventh Circuit forwarded the case to the District Court for resentencing.

A panel of three judges for the U.S. Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals ruled on two appeals that Smith must be re-sentenced. The court said a different judge should handle the re-sentencing according to the Tribune Star.

Judge Jane Magnus-Stinson’s 33 month sentence brings the former councilman’s sentence back within compliance with federal guidelines. The guidelines call for a sentence of 33 to 41 months in federal prison. Smith receives credit for time served and is looking at 19 more months left to serve.