Fighting for Justice – Unethical Actions of a Northwest Drug Task Force Agent in Flathead County, Montana in 2014
Montana defense attorney, Tim Baldwin, along with defense attorneys Phyllis and Jack Quatman, exposed serious unethical actions of a Northwest Drug Task Force Agent in Flathead County, Montana in 2014. Here is what happened.
These defense attorneys requested an investigation to the Montana Attorney General. After reviewing their request for an investigation, the Attorney General’s Office responded and stated that while they will not prosecute criminally, they are very concerned about the allegations of ethical violations and referred the matter to the proper authority in Montana.
Below is a specific and egregious example of the unethical actions and what appears to be an attempt to cover it up.
Threatening Clients and Family Members of Clients (State v. Cory Franklin, DC-2013-465, DC-2014-128, DC-2004-15)
Striking evidence that has been discovered against these prosecutors and officer is a phone recording between Northwest Drug Task Officer, McKeag Johns, and Kristina Franklin (the wife of Cory Franklin, who is Tim Baldwin’s client). This phone conversation took place on June 4, 2014 in Flathead County. In this conversation, Johns made the following egregious statements to Kristina Franklin:
- Johns threatened the Franklins to terminate Tim Baldwin as their attorney;
- Johns told Kristina that the entire Flathead County Attorney’s Office would go after Cory and Kristina Franklin if they did not fire Tim Baldwin;
- Johns claimed that Tim Baldwin is using Cory and Kristina Franklin for his own political agenda;
- Johns claimed that Tim Baldwin will hurt Cory and Kristina Franklin if he remained their attorney;
- Johns stated that Deputy County Attorney, Kenneth “Rusty” Park has a personal bias against Tim Baldwin and is mistreating Cory and Kristina Franklin in Cory’s cases because of Park’s bias;
- Flathead County Attorney, Ed Corrigan has a personal bias against Tim Baldwin;
- Ed Corrigan will not remove Park as prosecutor in Cory Franklin’s cases because he feels too strongly against Tim Baldwin;
- Ed Corrigan did not hire Tim Baldwin when he applied as a Deputy County Attorney because of his dislike for Tim Baldwin; and
- Officer Johns would like to help Kristina and Cory Franklin but cannot because Tim Baldwin is their attorney.
Johns continued these kinds of comments to Kristina for 27 minutes. This phone recording was transcribed.
But Johns wasn’t the only government actor to make these threats to Kristina Franklin. According to Kristina Franklin, Deputy County Attorney, Kenneth Park did too.
As a result of learning of Park’s threats to Kristina, Tim Baldwin filed a motion to recuse Park as prosecutor in Cory Franklin’s cases. Kristina signed an affidavit detailing her conversation with Park.
Park denied these allegations in his Response filings with the Court, but the evidence shows differently. Too, Park never responded to Kristina Franklin’s affidavit detailing Officer Johns’ threats.
Given the seriousness of Park’s and Johns’ unethical conduct, Tim Baldwin delivered a request for interviews for Flathead County Attorney Ed Corrigan, Deputy County Attorney Kenneth Park, Sheriff Chuck Curry and Agent Johns. Not one of them responded to this request. So, Tim Baldwin took the next step and filed a motion for order compelling their depositions. Very soon thereafter, Park filed a motion to dismiss DC-13-465 and DC-14-128.
After Park dismissed these cases, Tim Baldwin learned from his client that while Park and Johns were engaged in their unethical acts, Park went to Cory’s probation officer and asked him if he had anything on which to file a report of violation even though the probation officer told Cory that he was not going to do so unless Corry was actually convicted of a charge in DC-13-465 or DC-14-128. The probation officer admitted under oath on July 30, 2014 that Park, in fact, came to him and asked him about this. The probation officer followed Park’s request and sought to punish Mr. Franklin further.
When learning of this, Tim Baldwin filed a Motion for Rule 11 Sanctions against Park alleging that he filed his petition to revoke Cory’s probation for an improper purpose; namely, to continue punishing Mr. Franklin because of his personal disdain for Tim Baldwin and for Mr. Franklin not firing Tim Baldwin as his attorney. Tim Baldwin sought sanctions against Corrigan too for his failure to properly supervise Park to prevent Park’s prosecutorial misconduct. A (three hour) hearing on that sanctions motion was heard on September 5, 2014 before the Court. Tim Baldwin called both Park and Corrigan to the stand to testify.
Under oath, Park denied having told Kristina Franklin what she swore to in her affidavit. Park also denied having told Officer Johns what Kristina Franklin swore to in her affidavit and what is recorded (see above). Based on the details of what Johns told Kristina Franklin about Park and Corrigan, there seems to be little to no doubt that Park and/or Corrigan told Johns what Johns told Kristina Franklin on the phone. Johns told Kristina Franklin information that he would not have otherwise known except through either Park or Corrigan. Plainly, Johns did not make up these statements on his own; he had knowledge from prior communications with Park or Corrigan.
Under oath, Corrigan stated he believed Kristina Franklin was lying about the substance of her affidavits concerning Park and Johns and accused Kristina of playing Johns “like a fiddle.” Corrigan stated that he conducted his own “investigation” and determined that there was no truth to the substantive allegations in Kristina’s affidavits. Notably, Corrigan testified that when he interviewed Johns, Johns denied the substance of the conversation–and Corrigan believed him.
This, of course, begs the question: why did Park dismiss these cases if there was no truth to what Kristina Franklin said Park and Johns told her? In answering this question, Corrigan stated that he told Park to dismiss DC-13-465 and DC-14-128 because there was an “appearance of impropriety,” but he denied that there was any actual impropriety. Based on the evidence of the recording, however, we know Kristina Franklin was telling the truth.
In the end, on November 20, 2014, the Court denied Tim Baldwin’s Request for Additional Hearing on Motion for Rule 11 Sanctions and denied his Motion for Rule 11 Sanctions. The Court essentially adopted the State’s proposed findings of facts and conclusions of law (and not the Defendant’s) relative to the testimony of Kenneth Park and Ed Corrigan on September 5, 2014. However, the Court did state that she found mitigating facts existed in this case (but she did not state them), which caused her to enter a sentence (on the revocation of probation petition and not in DC-13-465 and DC-14-128) lower than what the State was seeking against Cory Franklin.
Since then, Park resigned in 2015 from the Flathead County Attorney’s Office and moved to Newport, Oregon where he now works as a prosecutor.
You can review the relevant court filings below:
- 2014-04-16 Office of Public Defender Assignment of Tim Baldwin
- 2014-05-02 Motion to Reset OMNI Hearing
- 2014-05-07 Deputy County Attorney Response to Motion to Reset OMNI Hearing
- 2014-05-27 Motion to Compel Discovery, For Sanctions, To Recuse Kenneth Park as Prosecutor (with exhibits)
- 2014-05-28 Affidavit Kristina Franklin re Deputy County Attorney Kenneth Park
- 2014-06-04 Affidavit of Kristina Franklin and Transcript of Phone Conversation with McKeag Johns
- 2014-06-06 Deputy County Attorney Response to Motion to Compel, For Sanctions, To Recuse Kenneth Park
- 2014-06-13 Affidavit Kristina Franklin re Officer McKeag Johns
- 2014-06-16 Reply to Deputy County Attorney Response to Motion to Compel, For Sanctions and To Recuse Kenneth Park
- 2014-06-17 Notice of Serving Interview Requests to Corigan, Park, Curry and Johns
- 2014-06-17 Request for Hearing on Motion to Compel, For Sanctions and To Recuse Kenneth Park
- 2014-06-25 Order Granting Defendant Motion for Request for Hearing
- 2014-06-30 Motion To Compel Depositions of Corrigan, Park, Curry and Johns
- 2014-07-02 Deputy County Attorney Motion to Dismiss
- 2014-07-16 Motion for Rule 11 Sanctions Against Park and Corrigan
- 2014-09-16 Kristina Franklin Affidavit of Releasing Audio
- 2014-09-16 Request for Additional Hearing on Motion for Rule 11 Sanctions
- 2014-09-29 State Response to Motion for Additional Hearing
- 2014-10-10 Defendant Proposed Findings of Fact, Conclusions of Law, and Order
- Flathead Memo (2014-09-17)
- Northwest Liberty News (2014-09-17)
- PolyMontana (2014-09-17)
- Liberty Defense League (2014-09-17)
- Daily Interlake (2014-09-17)
- Daily Interlake (2014-09-17)
- Freedom Outpost (2014-09-18)
- Flathead Beacon (2014-09-18)
- NBC Montana (2014-09-18)
- The Daily Sheeple (2014-09-18)
- Montana Bar (2014-09-18)
- Daily Interlake (2014-09-18)
- Scanned Retina (2014-09-19)
- The Liberty Brothers Radio (2014-09-19)
- KPAX (2014-09-19)
- KPAX TV NEWS (2014-09-19)
- Daily Interlake (2014-09-21)
- Flathead News Group (2014-09-21)
- Daily Paul (2014-09-22)
- Strategic Relocation Blog (2014-09-26)
- Freedom In Our Time (2014-09-28)
- Chuck Baldwin (2014-10-01)
- Western News (2014-10-03)
- Montanacorruption.org (2015-01-28)