Senior Judge Edward Bouker from Hays has been assigned to preside over the misdemeanor case against Barton County Sheriff Brian Bellendir, which is pending in Barton County District Court.
Bellendir was charged last October with one count of mistreatment of a confined person, following an investigation by the Kansas Bureau of Investigation. Chase County Attorney William R. Halvorsen agreed to serve as special prosecutor.
Magistrate Judge Verle Willey received Bellendir’s plea of not guilty in December and a pretrial conference was held in January. Court records show that on Jan. 24 a status conference was held and parties were discussing a resolution but had not come to an agreement. With no resolution reached, a senior judge was requested and Bouker was assigned last week.
No date has been set for the next court hearing because it needs to be scheduled with the new judge, an employee at the Chase County Attorney’s office said Thursday.
After 23 years of serving as a District Judge, Bouker resigned from the 23rd Judicial District in 2016 to serve as a Kansas Senior Judge. Senior judges can hear cases anywhere in the state and are assigned by the Supreme Court on an as-needed basis.
The charge against the sheriff alleges that on Aug. 10, 2017, Nathan B. Manley was detained in handcuffs by Bellendir, who spoke to him in a “vulgar, rude and/or angry manner” and struck him on the side of his head. Manley, 42, was booked into the Barton County Jail on that date on a probation violation charge.
Bellendir has maintained his innocence.