SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — A lawsuit filed against a southwestern Missouri sheriff alleges that the county jail he oversees is illegally housing criminal and civil defendants together.

Public defender Matthew Mueller filed the lawsuit this month on behalf of Amy Evans, an inmate at Greene County Jail, the Springfield News-Leader reported . He says the jail isn’t keeping criminal and civil defendants in different cells, as required by law.

Damon Phillips, an attorney for Sheriff Jim Arnott, said the lawsuit is a “frivolous legal argument” that public defenders aren’t authorized to make. He said public defenders should focus on defending their clients and noted that public defenders had not made an appearance in the case on which the lawsuit is based.

Evans, 45, is being detained for a 2017 probation violation, which is considered a civil matter instead of criminal. Evans was originally placed on probation after pleading guilty to possession of a controlled substance in 2016, according to court records.

Mueller has filed similar lawsuits in four other Missouri counties and he has said he will appeal the lawsuits if he loses in circuit court. But he said he hasn’t found a judge willing to hear his case in Greene County. Court records show three county judges have already recused themselves from the case.


Information from: Springfield News-Leader, http://www.news-leader.com