Sedgwick County Commissioner Kelly Parks had his day in court Thursday and lost.
He'll have to pay $130 for a speeding ticket, unless he appeals a second time. His lawyer indicated he might.
Wichita police officers Stella Boyd and Glenn Ludwig testified they stopped Parks on June 23 driving 36 mph in a 25 mph zone on West River Boulevard in Riverside.
He was talking on a cell phone, Ludwig said.
"This is going to be on the front page of the paper tomorrow," Parks said at the time, Boyd testified.
Parks was found guilty of speeding in a park in municipal court in November. The former Valley Center police chief contended he wasn't in a park and appealed his case to Sedgwick County District Court. A special judge heard the case Thursday.
Senior Judge Ron Innes, brought in because other judges know the commissioner, found Parks guilty and sentenced him to pay a $25 fine, $95 in municipal court costs and a $10 fee for his appeal.
The usual fine for speeding 5 mph over a speed limit is $85. Each additional mile over the speed limit is another $5. Asked why Parks was fined $25, City Attorney Gary Rebenstorf said the amount was "the judge's discretion."
It cost $291.47 for the court to hire Innes for the day, Chief Judge James Fleetwood said. He heard one other case. Innes, who was a Kansas City area judge but now lives in Wichita, also can charge mileage, but Fleetwood said he didn't know if he did in Parks' case.
Parks' lawyer, Kenny Estes, said Parks may take his case to the Kansas Court of Appeals.
Estes maintained that Parks was not guilty of speeding in a park system — the specific citation — because that section of West River Boulevard is not listed as being a street inside Riverside Park.
He also contended that the city did not complete a traffic study to lower the speed limit to 25 mph.
Assistant City Attorney Mike Hoelscher noted that a map Estes had printed off of Google and entered into the record showed the road as part of the park. He also said that a list of streets considered part of the park system was never meant to be all-inclusive.
Ludwig testified that Parks passed a 25 mph speed limit sign before he was stopped. He said the area along the road, which flows out of a roundabout designed to slow drivers, is peppered with picnic tables and is known as a park.
"When you drive into that area, you feel like it's a park," assistant traffic engineer Brian Coon told the judge.
Still, Estes said that it was a "legal impossibility" that Parks was speeding in a park. He asked for a judgment of acquittal.
If the area wasn't a park, the usual speed limit would be 30 mph.
Coon also testified that a traffic study is not legally required to "modify a traffic control device" or lower the speed limit.
Coon said the speed limit is lower because children often play in the park. He said that driving more than 30 mph, particularly more than 35 mph, increases the risk of pedestrian fatalities.
In making his ruling, Innes said that "even the defense's own map locates the area as a park."
He noted that Parks did not object "that the posted limit was 25 and he was speeding."
Estes said he and Parks were "seriously looking" at a further appeal but had not decided.
Parks did not return a call, and a secretary in the commission's office said he had referred calls about the case to his lawyer.
"We thought we had some good arguments," Estes said after the hearing. "We really wish that our arguments would have been given a little more consideration."
Rebenstorf said in an e-mail that the city budgets for prosecution as a government function. He said Parks' case "was handled the same as any other person charged with a speeding violation and who appeals the conviction to district court."