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District 86 candidate found guilty of disorderly conduct in 2010

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Friday, Oct. 19, 2012, at 6:56 p.m.

A Libertarian seeking the Kansas State House District 86 seat was found guilty of misdemeanor disorderly conduct for verbally assaulting a woman living in his neighborhood in 2010, records show.

James K. Pruden called the woman names and used “offensive, obscene or abusive language” to “alarm, anger, or disturb … or provoke an assault or other breach of the peace” during a Sept. 8, 2010, confrontation between the pair, according to court documents obtained by The Eagle.

Records show the woman lived on Chautauqua near Pruden’s residence, 2918 E. Morris, when the incident occurred. A police incident report filed that day indicates the situation was “an ongoing problem between them.”

Pruden was found guilty of the charge in municipal court in May 2011. He appealed the findings in Sedgwick County District Court, where the case has undergone a jury trial and several motions filed by the political candidate.

The jury upheld the lower court’s ruling in November 2011. Pruden later asked the court to vacate the guilty verdict and order a new trial, but his request was denied on March 29 by Judge Eric Commer, according to court documents.

Pruden, 54, declined comment on the case, saying ethics complaints against a judge “are in the works” and he’s filed others “about the competency of the court-appointed attorney.”

“That’s still under appeal right now, and it would be inappropriate for me to talk about it right now,” he said by phone Wednesday evening.

Pruden, a retired master electrician, faces Republican John Stevens and Democratic incumbent Jim Ward in the Nov. 6 general election. The Eagle routinely conducts background checks on political candidates.

In the latest action on the case — dated Sept. 18 — District Court Judge James Fleetwood dismissed another appeal filed in the matter. Pruden said he was unaware of the Sept. 18 decision and that the case was still ongoing.

“I have not exhausted my appeals,” he said.

Records show Pruden was sentenced to 12 months in jail, but he was granted a request for probation and ordered to a two-year supervised term. Pruden was also ordered to complete at least 12 weeks of anger management classes and to have no contact with the victim or others living at her Chautauqua address, according to court documents.

As of Tuesday, $710 in fines levied against Pruden in the case remained unpaid, a Sedgwick County District Court clerk said by phone. The amount includes a $200 fine and $386 in municipal court fees.

The incident isn’t the first bout of legal woes for the House hopeful. In 2008, Pruden was the subject of a protection from abuse order, filed in Sedgwick County District Court, records show. The order was granted by a judge but was dismissed a few months later at the request of the woman who filed it.

Reach Amy Renee Leiker at 316-268-6644 or aleiker@wichitaeagle.com. Follow her on Twitter: @amyreneeleiker.

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