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Kiowa County Signal - Kiowa County, KS
  • Kiowa County Attorney candidate J. Scott James awaits DUI charges

  • Current Ford County Assistant Attorney and Kiowa County Attorney candidate J. Scott James (full name Jonathan Scott James) acknowledged his DUI arrest in an interview Monday. A month long investigation into the incident found that James had been arrested in Dodge City by Kansas State Trooper Keefe Hemel on suspicion of DUI on March 31, 2012, but has yet to be charged with a crime.


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  • Current Ford County Assistant Attorney and Kiowa County Attorney candidate J. Scott James (full name Jonathan Scott James) acknowledged his DUI arrest in an interview Monday. A month long investigation into the incident found that James had been arrested in Dodge City by Kansas State Trooper Keefe Hemel on suspicion of DUI on March 31, 2012, but has yet to be charged with a crime.
    In a phone interview on Monday, James said he had given a blood sample and received results indicating he had a blood alcohol content (BAC) of more than 0.08 percent.
    In an interview with the Dodge City Daily Globe on Tuesday, James confirmed that he had refused to submit to a breathalyzer test.
    Kansas law states that a person is under the influence if their BAC is above 0.08 percent.
    James said on Monday that the case had been referred to Ford County Attorney Terry Malone, who then referred the case to Edwards County Attorney Mark Frame.
    “I am not getting any special treatment that I am aware of,” said James. “I don’t expect any special treatment, I expect to be treated like any other person who’s made this mistake. I am ready to enter a plea whenever I am able to do that. I believe they do not have the reports from the officers involved. I think [Mark Frame] didn’t know why that was and I don’t know either. That is what I think he was waiting on. I am certainly not asking for any special treatment or anything.”
    A search conducted at the Ford County District Court by the Dodge City Globe produced a March 31 ticket issued by Sgt. Dale Coleman of the Ford County Sheriff’s Department, citing James for a “failure to maintain lanes” violation at 11:16 p.m. on Comanche Street in Dodge City.
    According to Malone, a Kansas Highway Patrol Officer was called by Coleman to handle the suspected DUI. “It appears as if the deputy sheriff was trying to avoid a conflict of interest,” he said. 
    Currently, Frame has not filed any charges against James in Edwards County. Speaking via telephone on Tuesday Frame declined to comment citing an ongoing investigation.
    James has worked for the Ford County Attorney’s office since 2010, exclusively prosecuting suspected gang members.
    “He was instrumental in obtaining cooperation with the U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom’s office on the 38-count indictment on Norteños gang members,” said Malone in an interview last week. “Without Scott’s involvement and his dedication I believe it never would have happened.”
    The Ford County Attorney's office unsealed the indictment on May 11. It was considered a benchmark achievement for Malone and James.
    Malone, after being elected in 2008 made the prosecution of DUI’s a priority, even championing a recent change in state DUI laws.
    Page 2 of 2 - “I think I've handled over 4,000 DUI cases in city court,” said Malone in a 2008 election year interview with the Dodge City Daily Globe. “All that experience, I believe, would give me the skills necessary to be an effective county attorney.”
    In a June 23 interview with the Globe, which mentioned his practice of seeking warrants to take blood tests when a suspected driver refuses a breathalyzer, Malone commented on Kansas State Senate Bill No. 60, a DUI overhaul bill that heaps higher penalties on repeat offenders, limits arrests based on prior convictions and eliminates impounding of vehicles for first time convictions.
    “Our goal is to be able to convict more people who drive under the influence,” said Malone. “I’ve been hoping for this for a long time, and I’m glad it’s passed.”
    Last week Malone said he had no intention of reprimanding James.
    “I don’t anticipate any disciplinary action from my office, other than if he’s convicted what he would pay as a penalty. He is a very talented, skilled, valuable part of our office. He certainly admitted he had made a huge mistake. I am satisfied with his acceptance of his accountability for it.”
    Malone is currently running for re-election in Ford County.
    James is in a primary race with current Kiowa County Attorney Candace Lattin.
    It is unknown what kind of effect the arrest will have on the voters in Kiowa County. The county had been a “dry” county until the passage of a liquor-by-the-drink ballot initiative in 2010, with nearly 40 percent voting against it, suggesting strong conservative views on the consumption of alcohol.
    “I’ve sought appropriate treatment for what the problem was,” said James. “I’ve changed my lifestyle significantly. The voters will be able to judge that based on my performance in the office. If I don’t earn their respect then that will be shown. I do feel like it means I have to earn their respect by doing the best job that I can. I don’t have that relationship with law enforcement in Kiowa County at this time because I don’t work there. But that is what I’ll have to do there, just like I do here. Work the best I can, do the best job I can, working for the public. I am a hard worker. It is understandable to start at zero and earn their respect. It is what it is.”
    James is scheduled to participate in the Kiowa County Town Hall debate on July 26 at the Haviland Hardware Store in Haviland.
    Emily Shultz and Abigail Wilson of the Dodge City Daily Globe contributed to this article.

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