by Ivan Foley
A well-known attorney who was Weston’s municipal judge at the time of his arrest has pled guilty to DWI.
On the day the case had originally been set for a trial expected to last half a day, James D. Boggs, 63, entered a guilty plea Thursday in Platte County Circuit Court.
His plea came in front of Judge Gerald McBeth of Vernon County, who had been brought in to hear the case.
Boggs’ plea came nearly 20 months after he was arrested on suspicion of drunk driving by a Platte County Sheriff’s Department deputy near Weston on Jan. 23, 2011.
In a plea agreement with the Platte County Prosecutor’s Office, Boggs will not lose his driver’s license for a year. But he has been placed on probation for two years, with probation to be monitored by the court.
Boggs will also be required to perform at least 50 hours of pro bono representation, which will be considered community service. He also must complete an offender education program, which is a 10- hour education process conducted in a classroom setting.
Boggs is to report to the prosecuting attorney’s office after 90 days to show completion of the work and the program.
Boggs was represented in the matter by his son, attorney Christian Boggs.
In addition to serving as Weston’s municipal judge, Boggs at the time of his arrest was also serving as a member of the Sixth District Judicial Commission, which recommends appointments for judgeship openings to the governor.
Shortly after his arrest, Boggs resigned his position as judge at Weston. His spot on the judicial commission later expired and he no longer serves on that board.
Boggs’ law practice is located on N. Cosby, Kansas City, in southern Platte County.
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,” the deputy’s statement says.
The deputy’s statement of probable cause concludes with:
“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.”
Boggs initially showed signs of aggressively fighting the charge and the suspension of his driver’s license, even petitioning McBeth to disallow the county prosecutor from representing the director of revenue in the civil portion of his case.
In a move that was later overturned after the prosecutor filed a writ with the Missouri Western District Court of Appeals, McBeth originally upheld Boggs’ request and disqualified the prosecutor’s office from representing the DOR and disqualified the director of revenue as co-counsel.
McBeth, as part of his order, appointed Steven Salmon to serve as a special prosecuting attorney in the civil case.
Previously, Salmon was a law partner of Thomas Fincham, who now serves as a Platte County Associate Circuit Court Judge. Judge Fincham granted a stay of revocation allowing Boggs to keep his driver’s license while his case was pending. Boggs served on the commission that recommended Fincham as one of the finalists for his judgeship.
After a Landmark article mentioned the connection, the case was reassigned to Judge Charles Curless. Judge McBeth was later appointed following a request for a replacement by the prosecutor.
Following McBeth's ruling to disqualify the Platte County Prosecutor's Office, a writ was filed in an effort to stop the circuit court’s ruling from taking effect. The court of appeals immediately granted a preliminary writ of prohibition, which prevented Judge McBeth from taking any further action until additional briefs were filed and oral arguments were heard on the matter.
On May 9, a panel of judges in the Missouri Western District Court of Appeal held that the “potential difficulties presented by the prosecutor's simultaneous participation in the civil and criminal cases, standing alone, do not justify the disqualification of the entire prosecuting attorney's office.”
The appeals court’s ruling put the Platte County prosecutor back on the civil portion of the case.
The civil case disappears now as a result of the sentencing agreed upon by the prosecutor and defendant.
A review of his driving history Boggs filed with the court in his petition to keep his driver’s license shows at least one previous alcohol-related suspension of his license.
Boggs’ record shows a suspension of his license occurred on March 18, 2004. His license was reinstated three months later, on June 11, 2004.
That suspension was tied to an incident that occurred on Feb. 25, 2004. His blood alcohol content in that offense, as described by the driver’s license records filed with the court, was .231, which is nearly three times the current legal limit of .08.