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  • Last modified 83 days ago (June 27, 2019)

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Judge seeks guards; attorney wants raise

Staff writer

County commissioners heard pitches for increased spending on legal matters Monday, including a proposal to add private guards in courtrooms and to give the county attorney a $10,000-a-year raise.

Instead of bailiffs, chief judge Mike Powers is looking to hire part-time guards to provide security in Marion’s courtroom — the only courtroom in his four-county district that has no security.

He gave county commissioners a $26,000 proposal from First Choice Security, which employs mainly former law enforcement officers, to provide armed security on a half-time basis, when potentially contentious court sessions are scheduled.

Dickinson County already uses the company, Powers said. Geary County uses a more traditional bailiff system, with sheriff’s deputies providing security.

The guards would be “certified, body-cam-wearing, and gun-totin’,” Powers said.

Both Powers and commissioner Randy Dallke indicated that Sheriff Rob Craft had received permission previously to hire an additional deputy that, Powers understood, was to have provided court security while also serving legal documents.

“Rob saw it differently,” Powers said. “I’m not here to throw Rob under the bus, only to present this proposal.”

Design of the county’s courtroom makes security difficult, Dallke said. The layout has multiple entry points and no secure, private hallways for defendants or judges.

For his part, recently named county attorney Joel Ensey asked to increase his annual salary to $65,000, promising he would not take private cases and thus could avoid hiring special prosecutors in cases where he might have represented a defendant previously.

County clerk Tina Spencer noted that previous county attorneys declined a general raise, preferring to hire an assistant instead, and had received additional stipends for providing services like what the separate county counsel now provides.

Ensey also asked for $4,000 for a new, larger desk in his office.

Ensey’s requests were included in his proposed budget Powers’s request was not but he encouraged commissioners to consider it nonetheless.

Commissioners also heard budget requests from Prairie View mental health center and Kansas Legal Services, which provides free legal counsel to people who cannot afford it.

In other business, commissioners voted to allow:

  • County engineer Brice Goebel to submit an almost token auction bid on a costly piece of equipment that sorts concrete chunks by size and would cost more than the bid to move to the county.
  • Weed and transfer station director Bud Druse to combine two part-time positions, one of them vacant, into a single full-time position that would provide multiple functions across his several departments.

Last modified June 27, 2019

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