Accused Mont. prosecutor avoids weekend jail stay

AP News
Posted: May 01, 2013 12:26 PM

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — A midnight court hearing in Kalispell helped a Montana prosecutor accused of assaulting a family member avoid spending last weekend in jail, but his attorney said there was no special treatment for the prosecutor and it was held out of concern for his safety.

Flathead County Deputy Attorney Kenneth "Rusty" Park's attorney was arrested Friday night after a woman at his home in Kila called authorities. Park was charged with creating reasonable apprehension of bodily injury, which is a crime under the partner or family member assault criminal code.

Park was taken into custody, the Daily Inter Lake reported Wednesday ( ). His attorney, Thane Johnson, called Justice of the Peace Mark Sullivan, who held an initial appearance hearing for Park after midnight. Sullivan released Park on his own recognizance.

Normally, a person arrested on Friday night would spend the weekend in jail before receiving a court hearing.

Johnson told The Associated Press Wednesday that Park risked attack by an inmate if he remained in jail, and there should be a policy to keep arrested prosecutors and law-enforcement officers in a separate facility from inmates they arrest or prosecute.

"It is not uncommon for a county attorney or a prosecutor to have their life threatened," Johnson said. "It happens all the time. It's real. These risks are real."

Johnson said he is convinced the case against Park will either be dismissed or he will be acquitted of the charges.

The attorney also said that while rare, such middle-of-the-night proceedings occasionally happen when a police officer or a prosecutor is in jail.

Flathead County Attorney Ed Corrigan, Park's boss, and Sheriff Chuck Curry both said it was the first such hearing they had heard of.

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Curry told the Kalispell newspaper that any type of special treatment for anyone in the justice system is unacceptable.

"In my 27 years of law enforcement, I have not seen a judge have someone appear before them after midnight," Curry said.

Corrigan told the AP he was in Deer Lodge at the time of the arrest and only learned about the hearing later.

Special hearings have been held in cases of medical emergencies, but not for prosecutors, he said.

"I haven't heard of anything like this," Corrigan said.

A message left at Sullivan's office was not returned Tuesday.

Park is on paid administrative leave until the case is resolved.


Information from: Daily Inter Lake,