Berrien County court worker faces 3 felony charges

Posted at 10:59 AM, Oct 22, 2016
and last updated 2016-10-22 12:28:10-04

BERRIEN COUNTY, Mich. — An employee in the Berrien County court system faces three felony charges involving a controlled substance and a relationship with a probationer whom she oversaw.

County Prosecutor Michael Sepic announced Saturday that Jessica Holmes, 35, of Eau Claire is charged with delivery of a controlled substance, which is a 20-year felony). She is also charged with second-degree criminal sexual conduct—a 15-year felony—and obstruction of justice—a 5-year felony.

Holmes is scheduled to be arraigned in the Berrien County Trial Court at or before 2 p.m. Nov. 4.

Sepic said it appears some Berrien County trial judges are disqualifying themselves from involvement with the case.

The charges stem from Holmes’ employment with the Berrien County Trial Court as a Swift and Sure Program coordinator.

A 16-year veteran with the court, Holmes recently was promoted to the program coordinator position and was managing Swift and Sure probationers.

Swift and Sure is a probation status where probationers, those convicted of felonies and placed on probation, are selected for a state-funded program designed for defendants who were likely on their way to prison to be given a second chance to succeed on a local probation term.

It is alleged that Holmes developed a relationship with a Swift and Sure probationer after the July 11 Berrien County courthouse shootings, when the two of them were both in the courtroom. Investigators say she delivered a drug, Norco, to him to sell on her behalf; that she had a sexual relationship with him, which is prohibited due to her employment with the county while he was a probationer; and that she provided him with confidential scheduling information by which he was to be drug and alcohol tested for the Swift and Sure program.

Sepic noted that the charges are merely accusations and the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.