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Candidate court records range from mundane tickets to detailed restraining orders

PULASKI COUNTY, Mo. (Aug. 2, 2014) — Court records, both criminal and civil, are public information. A review of the court records for the candidates running in contested races next week Tuesday revealed a wide variety of data, some mundane and some much less so.

While no Democrats running for countywide office have contested races next week, two Republicans are running for treasurer, five are running for presiding commissioner, two Republicans are seeking to replace incumbent Democrat Associate Circuit Judge Ronda Cortesini, and three Republicans are seeking to replace incumbent Democrat Assessor Kim Skaggs-Henson.

Both candidates for Pulaski County Treasurer, incumbent Sue Rapone and challenger Pamela Sue Cox, haven’t been on the defendant’s side of a courtroom for many years. For Pam Cox, her first court case was a March 5, 1991 unclassified misdemeanor guilty plea to exceeding a 55 mph speed limit in Cole County, for which she had a $20 fine. Rapone has a similar offense, in which she pleaded guilty on June 22, 2006, to a Class C misdemeanor guilty plea to exceeding speeding the speed limit by 11 to 15 mph in Franklin County, for which she paid a $55 fine.

A considerably more complex case happened in 1996, however, when Cox and local businessman Charles Hamilton obtained restraining orders against each other, including a 180-day full order of protection entered on May 3, 1996.

As often happens in such cases, both parties made serious allegations against each other. However, court records do not indicate that criminal charges were filed by prosecutors against either person. The standard of proof to obtain a civil ex parte order, often called a “restraining order” or “no contact order,” is much lower than the “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard required for prosecutors to obtain a criminal conviction.

In an April 23, 1996 court filing, Cox, then 37, said she and Hamilton, then 51, “have no relationship other than (Hamilton) has stalked me.” Cox said that Hamilton had “attempted to physically harm” her, placed her “in apprehension of immediate physical harm,” and “harassed” her. As examples of that conduct, she said Hamilton had “placed my home and work phone nos in public places with invitations to call for a good time” and also “almost hit me with open car door when mad at me” as well as “threatened to continue to harass and make my life miserable.”

A temporary restraining order was granted to Cox and extended on May 3 to become a full order of protection barring Hamilton from contacting her.

Hamilton’s version, however, is much more graphic.

According to Hamilton, he and Cox “dated steadily or unsteadily for about two years” and “during this time there were several break-ups of a few days or a few weeks.”

Hamilton said in court documents filed on April 22 that “during this time (he) dated other ladies.”

According to Hamilton, in the spring of 1995 about a year before he filed for a restraining order, Cox “followed me home, knowing there was already a lady following me home,” and “honked her horn indicating she wanted to talk” but Hamilton “ignored her and the lady and I went in the house.” That didn’t end the issue, according to Hamilton, with Cox ringing the doorbell, calling by phone and then having her mother call by phone.

Court documents filed by Hamilton say that in September of 1995, Cox followed Hamilton when he was “with a lady at my condo at the Lake of the Ozarks” using “someone else’s car” and while there, “let the air out of two of my tires” and then watched unobserved while Hamilton “took care of the problem.”

In November 1995, Cox followed Hamilton to a Charles Schwab investment seminar in Springfield and made inquiries about him there, according to Hamilton’s court filing.

In the spring of that year, Cox also “sprayed (Hamilton’s) car with shaving cream when (he) was with another lady,” according to Hamilton, and “attempts to maintain contact with” Hamilton’s friends, associates, and employees, “asking which car I’m driving, what I’m wearing, who I’m with, etc.”

“She has called and harassed ladies I’ve dated, confronted them at their places of work, and asked their neighbors to watch for my cars at their places, and report to her,” according to Hamilton’s court filing.

Since what Hamilton called “our final breakup” in January 1996, Cox had followed Hamilton to the lake “when I have a lady in the car, has called me in St. Louis, and in Taos, New Mexico (all UN welcome attention), has peeked in my garage windows (which I’ve covered with cardboard all except the top 6” or so) (her friend says she stands up on a box she carried in her car),” according to Hamilton’s court filing, also sitting “in her car in front of my house, talking to her friends about me.”

Hamilton wrote in court documents that “during our relationship she was very generous with gifts” but since then, at Cox’s request, he had returned numerous items but “in an attempt to maintain contact” she had made additional requests for “other petty items.”

Hamilton’s court filing makes additional allegations on which prosecutors did not file charges. He said “these allegations are not meant to be malicious or spiteful” and said he could “provide names and produce statements verifying (his) allegations,” though saying those additional people “would rather not get involved unless absolutely necessary.”

It’s not clear from court records whether Hamilton ever had those witnesses testify or produce statements, but if they did testify, their comments weren’t entered into the written court record.

Most of the other candidates running in contested races for county office also have court histories, though none involve allegations of stalking or abuse.

One of the two Republican candidates for associate circuit judge, Michael Headrick, has a speeding ticket. On July 23, 1990, Headrick pleaded guilty in Cole County to a Class C misdemeanor of speeding 5 to 20 mph over the limit in Cole County, for which he paid a $20 fine. Dean Matthews, the other Republican candidate, has no court record in Pulaski County.

The sitting judge who they are seeking to replace, incumbent Ronda Cortesini who has no opposition in next week’s Democratic Party primary, pleaded guilty on March 14, 2012, to a Class B misdemeanor of failure to register a motor vehicle in Pulaski County and paid a $30.50 fine.

The incumbent assessor, Kim Skaggs-Henson, who is unopposed in next week’s Democratic Party primary, has a lawsuit filed in 2009 and dismissed in 2011, and another case filed in 2012 and dismissed the next year, both based on her official capacity as a Crocker alderman at the time a former Crocker city administrator, Joyce Peterson, sued the city after her termination as city administrator.

The three Republicans seeking to replace Skaggs-Henson as county assessor are Dan Whittle of Crocker and Larry Southard and Pat Fincher of Laquey.

Whittle has no criminal record but has been involved in numerous civil actions where he was the person initiating lawsuits, mostly small-claims cases. That’s not unusual for small business owners.

On March 2, 2011, Whittle sued Jerry Alan Sawyer of Buckner and received a judgment of $1,006. On Feb. 19, 2013, he sued Tamara Tucker of Chicken Bones in St. Robert and received a judgment of $832.77. On Feb. 26, 2014, he sued Thomas Buttner of Dixon and received a judgment of $2,261.60. On April 3, 2014, he sued Scott Shelton of Crocker and received a judgment of $1,004.93; on the same date he sued Charlotte Stone of Crocker and received a judgment of $982.43. Except for the 2011 case for which the judgment has been satisfied, court records don’t show whether any of the judgments have yet been paid. He also had an uncontested 2009 divorce case for which a modification was requested in April 2011; the last action in that case was in February 2014.

His two Republican primary opponents also have no criminal court records.

Fincher appears in court records only on a civil matter involving guardianship and a petition to quiet a land title.

Southard, a real estate developer, has a number of civil cases related to his business. In a June 14, 1993 landlord complaint against Anita Holsted of Richland, he received possession of the premises and a civil judgment of $57 court costs. In a July 15, 1999 case against Derrick McClusky of St. Robert, the case was dismissed by the two parties on March 14, 2001. In a March 22, 2007 case against Michael and Shonda Harland of Laquey, Southard received a judgment of $3,063.65 against both on April 25 of that year. In a Feb. 4, 2008 case against David and Rachel Preble of Richland, Southard received a judgment of $1,033.87 against both on April 2 of that year. In a July 3, 2001 case against Rick and Sharon Vire of St. Robert, Southard received a judgment of $1,425 plus $92.75 court costs against both on July 16 of that year with a consent by the Vires to turn over possession of the premises in question by July 26.

He also filed a March 11, 1998 vehicular personal injury lawsuit against Joann L. Lacy of Cassville; a civil jury found on Sept. 28, 2005, in favor of Lacy as the defendant. A motion for a new trial was filed by Southard on Oct. 14, 2005, and denied a week later on Oct. 21, with Southard being required to pay $516.96 in court costs.

He and Anita Ivey, who is now the interim St. Robert city administrator and was previously the Richland city administrator, have been involved in an ongoing civil case against Friendly Ford of Springfield beginning in 2010. Southard and Ivey sued the dealership in Pulaski County on Aug. 6, 2012, a lawsuit which on June 20, 2013 was transferred from Pulaski County to Greene County where the Springfield dealership is located. Attorneys for the car dealership requested mediation and that case was dismissed with prejudice—meaning it can’t be refiled — on Jan. 29 of this year. An April 16, 2010 lawsuit by the dealership against Southard and Ivey was dismissed without prejudice on Dec. 20, 2011, which means it could be refiled.

For the Presiding Commissioner candidates, incumbent Gene Newkirk has only one case in Pulaski County: an Aug. 25, 2000 case in which Newkirk was sued by Joseph and Sharon Thomas of Waynesville. Newkirk failed to appear for a Sept. 20 court hearing and was ordered to pay $408.12 plus $40 court costs; court records show he paid by Nov. 15 of that year.

Newkirk faces four Republican challengers. Of the four, Bill Farnham of Waynesville has no court record apart from being sued in 2010 in his official capacity as Eastern District Commissioner, along with numerous other county officials, when former Pulaski County Prosecutor Deborah Hooper accused the county commissioners of failing to pay her the state mandated minimum salary. The county eventually came to a settlement with Hooper over that lawsuit.

Another challenger, Don Mayhew of Crocker, has two traffic tickets from 1999 in Phelps County. He pleaded guilty on March 5 to not wearing a seat belt and on June 23 to an amended charge of failure to have adequate vehicle equipment. Information on the fine assessed wasn’t immediately available. More recently, on Jan. 7, 2009, he pleaded guilty to not having brakes in good working order in Clay County and paid a $75 fine. On Oct. 17, 2008, he pleaded guilty to speeding 1 to 5 mph over the limit in Miller County, after initially pleading innocent on Sept. 5, and paid a $111.50 fine. He also had a $10 ticket in Pulaski County for which he pleaded guilty on Aug. 29, 2012, to not wearing his seat belt.

Kenny and Donna Zeigenbein are among a number of defendants being sued by Berton and Sidney Whittle of Crocker in a civil case filed on March 8, 2012, and currently scheduled to go to trial next month. Kenny Zeigenbein was also sued in 1997 by All Star Gas of Waynesville in a small claims case which was dismissed by the parties.

James Skaggs has only two court cases, both in Pulaski County. On March 20, 2013, he pleaded guilty to an amended charge of failure to have a proper muffler for which he paid a $33.50 fine after initially pleading innocent on March 18. He also pleaded guilty on July 5, 2012 to failure to wear a seat belt and paid a $10 fine.

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