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Park's attorney defends call to Justice of the Peace

By Rebecca Vogt, KCFW Reporter, rvogt@kcfw.com
Published On: May 01 2013 08:32:49 PM MDT
Updated On: May 01 2013 10:17:18 PM MDT
KALISPELL, Mont. -

Some folks in the Flathead think Deputy Attorney Kenneth "Rusty" Park didn't see enough time in a jail cell for his initial charge of partner/family member assault Friday evening.

"I spent the weekend in jail before I could see the damn judge," said Jason, a man passing through Kalispell who told us he's had some experiences with the law in the past.

According to Sheriff Chuck Curry, it was highly unusual that a judge would see any defendant outside court-set hours. Jailers booked Park at 11:30 p.m.

"We always do what the judge tells us to do," said Curry. "If he wants to see someone in the middle of the night we're a 7-day-a-week, 24-hour facility and we'll oblige the request."

Flathead County Commissioner Cal Scott said he's never seen a judge make a jail call like this.

"I have never heard a judge appearing at 12:30 on a Saturday morning to allow anyone to go home for the weekend when they've been incarcerated on a Friday," said Scott.

"It kind of makes sense because he's part of the system," explained another traveler, Brandon, "He can use the system to his benefit."

But Park's attorney, Thane Johnson, said he called Justice of the Peace Mark Sullivan not for preferential treatment but because he felt inmates might attack Park. After all, he probably put some of them behind bars. Still, Curry said Park was separated from the general population before his release at 1:45 a.m. on Saturday.

"We strive here at the Sheriff's Office to evenly apply the law to everyone," Curry explained. "We're always very careful not to show any sort of preferential treatment to anybody."

Park is currently on paid administrative leave until the matter is resolved.