Cline will appeal case after judge rules in favor of county
by Dennis Sharkey
A Kansas District Court judge has ruled in favor of Jefferson County over businessman Phil Cline.
Judge Janice D. Russell submitted the order to the Jefferson County District Court last month that granted summary judgment to the Jefferson County Board of Commissioners.
Cline filed suit against the county last year. Cline claimed that he was prosecuted under false pretenses and subsequently wrongly imprisoned.
According to the court filing, Cline was arrested on May 24, 2007, outside a building that he owns in Oskaloosa. He was called to the scene of a fire on the Oskaloosa square. A building that Cline owns is adjacent to the building that was on fire.
Cline was arrested by former Kansas Highway Patrol Officer Chad Boling and was aided by former Jefferson County Deputy Brett Schneider. The filing alleges that officers were overly aggressive resulting in injuries.
The filing says that Dennis Hawver, who was Cline’s attorney at the time, posted bond that day but Cline was denied release until the next day. Furthermore, the filing says that the Kansas Highway Patrol sent notice to Hayes stating that Boling was no longer a state trooper and advised that any case involving Boling should be dismissed. The suit alleges that Hayes didn’t disclose the notice to Cline or Hawver before the case proceeded to trial.
District Magistrate Judge Michael Ireland found Cline guilty of obstructing the official duty of a law enforcement officer. Cline appealed but the conviction was upheld by a six person jury but was later overturned by a state appellate court.
Cline was sentenced to five days in jail and 60 days of house arrest. The suit alleges that Cline, who has post traumatic stress disorder and is a Vietnam veteran, suffered aggravation to his PTSD. Furthermore, the suit says he suffered aggravation to an injured shoulder and diabetic leg sores due to an ankle bracelet he was forced to wear.
Cline said Hawver objected to the sentencing and asked for a stay until his case proceeded through the appeals process. The suit also says that charges should have never been filed against Cline.
Cline has been represented throughout this lawsuit by Oskaloosa attorney Kenji Zweygardt.
Zweygardt told the newspaper last week that he believes the judge erred in the judgment on two main points.
Russell’s opinion states that the fatal flaw in Cline’s claim for malicious prosecution is undercut because a judge and jury found Cline guilty.
However, Cline’s case was overturned by the Kansas Court of Appeals in February 2010. Zweygardt said it was strange that the ruling was made. Zweygardt also takes issue with Russell using the term “malicious prosecution” in the filing.
“We never called it malicious prosecution in our filing,” Zweygardt told the newspaper. “She took it upon herself to do that.”
Zweygardt said Russell was correct in saying that he has to be specific with what is being charged. However, he said attorneys for the county did not submit any motion saying they did not understand what was being alleged.
“The statement would have made sense if the opposing counsel for the county would have said, ‘Hey I don’t know what in the world he’s claiming,’” he said.
Russell also claims that Cline’s claim that he was falsely imprisoned fell past the one-year statute of limitations.
She said that Cline’s term ended in April 2008 but the suit was not filed until 2011.
Zweygardt said that argument doesn’t make sense because Cline had not yet completed the legal process with his case.
“It was just kind of odd I thought,” he said.
No appeal has been filed yet but Zweygardt said a notice of intent has been filed and transcripts have been requested. Zweygardt said he expects the process to be lengthy.
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