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6-1-2011

Outside judge requested for attorney's DWI case
Boggs has role in selecting judges

by Ivan Foley
Landmark editor

Local judges will not be involved in hearing matters related to a DWI charge against a Platte County attorney who sits on the commission that recommends candidates for Platte County judgeship positions.

Lee Hull, presiding judge of the Sixth Judicial Circuit Court, has asked the Supreme Court to assign a new judge in all matters related to the DWI charge facing James D. Boggs of Platte County.

As exclusively reported by The Landmark on May 11, Boggs is charged with DWI from an incident that occurred north of Weston in late January.

Boggs serves on the Sixth District Judicial Commission, which helps fill judgeship positions in Platte County. The Sixth District Judicial Commission reviews applications of lawyers who wish to join the court and interviews the applicants. It then submits the names of three qualified candidates – called the “panel” of candidates – to the Missouri governor. The local commission went through the process of helping to fill two vacancies in the past year, nominating panels that included the two eventual successful candidates in Judge Dennis Eckold and Judge Thomas Fincham.

As reported in The Landmark’s May 11 article, both Eckold and Fincham were scheduled to be a part of the court process associated with Boggs’ DWI charge. Fincham, in fact, had already ordered a stay on the revocation of Boggs driver’s license in civil court, keeping Boggs’ driving privileges in place for the time being.

Authorities say Boggs refused to take a breath test the night of his arrest. Typically when someone suspected of DWI refuses a breath test, the defendant loses his or her driver’s license for a year. But the accused can petition the Missouri Department of Revenue to not lose the license. In this case, Boggs filed a petition to set aside the one year revocation.

Court observers say an order like the one issued by Fincham to stay the revocation is not uncommon.

Often a final determination on the driving privileges request--a civil matter-- is not reached until a verdict on the criminal charge has been handed down.

The next hearing in the civil matter regarding the driver’s license is scheduled for July 14 at 11 a.m.

The criminal charge against Boggs, which was filed May 6, was originally scheduled to be heard by Eckold. But Eckold recused himself on his own motion entered on May 16, according to court records viewed by The Landmark.

The criminal matter originally had a scheduled court date of this Wednesday, June 1, but that seemed unlikely to happen at press time due to the fact the assignment of a new judge had not been listed by the court as of Tuesday.

The incident leading to the DWI charge occurred months ago in rural Platte County. On Sunday, Jan. 23 at around 10:15 p.m. about seven miles north of Weston, Boggs was arrested by Platte County Sheriff’s Deputy Katie Daugherty.

Though Boggs was still serving as Weston’s municipal court judge at the time of his arrest, he stepped away from that post via an email to city officials days later.

Boggs did not mention his arrest in that vaguely worded letter sent to the city attorney, the mayor at the time, and the city clerk.

“I have reached a point in my life when I have far too many crosses to bear. I need to step down, at least momentarily, from this office,” Boggs wrote.

In his email, Boggs requested an “unpaid leave of absence for an indeterminate time until some of my burdens are lifted.”

Boggs wrote that if his request was unfair to the city, “then I must tender my resignation.”

According to a statement of probable cause signed by the deputy who arrested him that night, Boggs failed a field sobriety test. The deputy said that “Boggs failed to give a breath sample upon our arrival at the Platte County Jail.”

Boggs was released after posting a $1,000 bond later that night, authorities told The Landmark.

Boggs’ vehicle had become stuck in a ditch along M Highway at Nichols Road.

The deputy’s report says “I arrived on the scene to a motor vehicle accident. I observed the vehicle being pulled out of the ditch onto a tow truck. I made contact with the driver of the vehicle, who identified himself as James D. Boggs, and (he) stated he was the driver of the vehicle.

“I observed an odor of intoxicants on Mr. Boggs’ breath and he agreed to take the field sobriety test. Due to Mr. Boggs’ presence of horizontal gaze nystagmus in both eyes and lack of balance during the walk and turn and one leg stand, I placed him under arrest for driving while intoxicated,” Daugherty’s statement says.

“There was no damage to Mr. Boggs’ vehicle and he requested there not be a motor vehicle accident report taken. Mr. Boggs failed to give a breath sample upon our arrival at the Platte County Jail.”