Former Montana Rep. declares himself ‘last man standing’ in court protest
A former Montana state representative instigated a flurry of verbal abuse toward a judge and prosecuting attorney during a routine hearing on Monday.
The Livingston Enterprise reported that former Rep. Joel Boniek (R) accused Park County Deputy County Attorney Kathleen Carrick of lacking the proper credentials to handle his case, which include charges of fleeing from or eluding a police officer, resisting arrest and obstructing a peace officer stemming from a July arrest.
As Boniek and several supporters disrupted the hearing, which was supposed to set a trial date for him, Justice of the Peace Linda Budeski declared court adjourned and left the room, prompting Boniek to announce, “The judge has left the room, I’m in charge now,” to which an officer of the court responded, “No, you’re not.”
Later that day, Boniek, who served for a year in the state legislature, said the matter was over.
“The judge abandoned the courtroom, and I announced the case dismissed as the last man standing in the courtroom,” he said.
Budeski asserted to the newspaper that the trial was delayed, not canceled.
Boniek, who ran as former gubernatorial candidate Bob Fanning’s running mate in a failed bid to get the Republican nomination this year, was arrested for allegedly refusing to comply with police orders at an emergency roadblock set up during a wildfire.
At one point, police said, he “dropped his left hand near what looked like a holster” before being brought to the ground and arrested. A loaded handgun was allegedly taken from the holster.
“Your honor, why is this woman even speaking if she can’t prove she’s (a public official)?” Boniek asked Justice of the Peace Linda Budeski at one point in the proceedings, referring to Carrick.
Boniek appeared in court without an attorney, but backed up by several people vocally supporting his contention that state officials must have surety bonds and prove they have taken specific oaths before practicing their duties.
“No county official has proper credentials to hold public office,” Boniek said. “I read the law in open court that says they have to have bonds. The county officials assured me no one had bonds.”
However, Carrick told the newspaper that Park County authorities have insurance that acts in the same capacity as the bonds, as mandated by state law.
That apparently wasn’t enough for his supporters, at least one of which snapped at Budeski after she told him he was out of order.
“Bullshit, you’re out of order,” the unidentified man said.
[Image via Shutterstock]