WICHITA, Kan. -- A man who was permanently banished from Kansas as a condition of his plea deal in a criminal case is seeking to return to the state with the help of an organization that says the punishment harkens back to "draconian penalties of Ancient Greece or the vigilante justice of the Old American West."
A Montgomery County judge will hear oral arguments on Aug. 8 over the motion the American Civil Liberties Union of Kansas filed last week pushing for Bo Dana Rupert to be allowed to return to Kansas from Texas.
"This is one of the most bizarre and illegal sentences I've ever seen," said Lauren Bonds, legal director for the ACLU of Kansas.
Court transcripts show that Rupert was sentenced to 12 months of probation after pleading no contest to three felony counts of making a criminal threat and three misdemeanor counts of filing a false report in 2017. The banishment, which was in addition to the probation, was included in the plea agreement that Rupert entered with Montgomery County Attorney Larry Markle and that the court accepted.
Markle did not immediately return a message seeking comment.
In its motion, the ACLU said the banishment was reminiscent of Ancient Greece, where such punishment was called exile and was imposed on people convicted of homicide or embarrassing military defeat. In the American West, it was called "sundown probation," the practice of dropping convicted defendants at the state line under threat to their safety should they ever return, according to the motion.
The ACLU is asking the court to strike from Rupert's sentence the part about banishing him from Kansas, declare that his sentence has been served in full and order the county attorney not to attempt to enforce the condition of banishment through subsequent prosecution.
The plea agreement — signed by Rupert, his defense attorney and the county attorney — explicitly states Rupert is not to return to Kansas.
"If the defendant does return to Kansas then the terms of this agreement have been violated and the County Attorney may consider filing all other charges for additional offenses not filed now," the agreement says.
Bonds said it's possible that Montgomery County District Judge Jeffrey Gettler wasn't aware of the banishment provision in the plea agreement. She said the ACLU is eager to hear the judge's take on the matter at next month's hearing.
It is unclear from the transcripts of the initial court hearings whether the judge actually intended to banish Rupert from Kansas. During his plea hearing, the court accepted the terms of the agreement and the county attorney during sentencing asked the court to incorporate the terms of his plea deal into the sentence.
Rupert left Kansas the day after his sentencing and has never returned to Kansas, according to the ACLU, which said in its motion that he was taking the advice of his then-attorney who warned him: "Don't still be here tomorrow when the sun comes up." Two weeks after he was sentenced, Montgomery County issued an arrest warrant for Rupert stating he had violated the terms of his probation because he did not attend his probation meetings in Kansas.