It’s hard to know what’s most offensive about the plea agreement reached between Senator Greg Barkus and Flathead County Attorney Ed Corrigan—the transparently political decision to delay its announcement until after the election or the scandalously generous terms afforded someone who put someone in a coma.
Politically, it’s perfectly clear that this plea agreement and delayed original trial were done to benefit Representative Rehberg, who might have had to answer some uncomfortable questions at trial.
More importantly, one has to wonder how long Montana can continue to be the laughingstock of the nation when it comes to enforcing laws about drunk driving. Despite facing 30 years of prison time and $70,000 in fines, Barkus:
- will not face any jail time.
- will only be asked to pay restitution of $4,000, which one can only assume is a tiny fraction of the costs incurred by Flathead County during its extensive year of work on the case.
- will have his record expunged, if he manages not to commit another felony in the next 18 months.
- is only subject to a deferred sentence, during which he will be under UNSUPERVISED probation.
There’s no excuse for this kind of “justice.” The Flathead County Attorney is either endorsing the idea that operating a motor vehicle while incredibly intoxicated is largely acceptable or the idea that it’s only acceptable for certain people.