Crime

Settlement clears way for return of man banished from Kansas

MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Kan. - A man who was banished from Kansas as a condition of a criminal plea deal could be allowed back in the state under a deal struck Monday, civil rights advocates said.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Kansas said in a news release that it has agreed to drop a civil lawsuit brought on behalf of Bo Dana Rupert in exchange for an amended Montgomery County plea agreement in a related criminal case against him.

Court transcripts show Rupert pleaded no contest in 2017 to three felony counts of making a criminal threat and three misdemeanor counts of filing a false report. He was sentenced to 12 months of probation, and the judge accepted a plea agreement under which he was banished from the state - two apparently incongruous terms.

Rupert left Kansas the next day and has never returned, according to the ACLU. The group said in its filing that his then attorney advised him: "Don't still be here tomorrow when the sun comes up."

Two weeks after he was sentenced, Montgomery County issued an arrest warrant for Rupert stating he had violated the terms of his probation by not attending his probation meetings in Kansas.

The ACLU said in a court filing that the banishment was reminiscent of punishments in the days of the Wild West, when convicted criminals were dropped at the state line and warned to never return in a practice called "sundown probation;" and in ancient Greece, where people convicted of homicide or embarrassing military defeat were sent into exile.

Under the new settlement, Montgomery County Attorney Larry Markle agreed not to prosecute Rupert for fleeing the state, something that Rupert contends he did to comply with the plea agreement's banishment terms, according to ACLU. It also removes the stipulation for probation from his plea deal.

"We hope attorneys on both sides will think twice before adding stipulations like this one to probation agreements in the future," said Lauren Bonds, legal director for the ACLU of Kansas. "This was an unusual situation, to say the least."

Markle said he would comment later.

It is unclear if Rupert actually wants to return to Kansas.

The ACLU also agreed to release a public statement clarifying the role that Rupert's criminal defense counsel, Heath Lampson, played in crafting the banishment terms in his plea deal, according to a copy of the settlement obtained by The Associated Press. The ACLU issued a news release stating it was Lampson who prepared the "problematic terms of the plea agreement, not Markle."

That 2017 plea agreement explicitly stated Rupert was not to return to Kansas: "If the defendant does return to Kansas then the terms of this agreement have been violated and the County Attorney may consider filing all other charges for additional offenses not filed now."

Lampson did not immediately return a message seeking comment.

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