By MIKE CORN
LA CROSSE -- Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt didn't have to testify Monday in Rush County District Court on a criminal defense motion claiming his office was guilty of discriminatory prosecution.
He also won't face the specter of testifying in the coming days in the criminal trial involving former Kansas Highway Patrol Trooper Domingo Cardenas.
That's because District Judge Bruce Gatterman rejected a motion from defense attorney Greg Schwartz, who was seeking dismissal of the charges against Cardenas as a result of what he claimed was discriminatory prosecution.
Cardenas is scheduled to go to trial on eight felony criminal charges Monday. The charges against Cardenas, filed in July 2012, include rape, aggravated criminal sodomy and six counts of aggravated indecent liberties with a child.
Schwartz last week served a subpoena on Schmidt at the Hadley Center in Hays as the attorney general arrived for the noon Rotary Club meeting. Schmidt was the featured speaker at the meeting.
Gatterman agreed to quash the subpoena at the request of Schmidt's office for Monday's hearing, but withheld a decision on a subpoena for Schmidt's appearance during Cardenas' trial.
That trial is scheduled to begin Monday and could last nearly three weeks.
While the hearing Monday also touched on a number of other smaller issues, little in the schedule was changed.
Despite that, there was an unusual flurry of activity at the end of the nearly 90-minute hearing, with first Schwartz and Assistant Attorney General Nichole Romine meeting behind closed doors.
Schwartz then met with Cardenas privately, until both Schwartz and Romine met with Gatterman behind closed doors.
No action was taken at the end of the hearing, however.
As for the motion to dismiss, Gatterman tossed aside part of the request concerning Cardenas's trial just as the November election is approaching.
"I think it largely falls in the lap of the court trying to find 2.5 weeks when we could hold this," Gatterman said of scheduling difficulties and its coincidental setting not long before the election.
But he said there were distinctive differences in cases cited by Schwartz as the basis for his motion to dismiss.
As a result, Gatterman said, Cardenas had not "satisfied the burden of proof for discriminatory prosecution."
With that out of the way, both Romine -- who is prosecuting Cardenas -- and then Assistant Attorney General Steve Phillips, who traveled from Topeka to La Crosse specifically to press for quashing the subpoena, got the chance to detail why Schmidt shouldn't be subpoenaed.
Romine said her office was asked to handle the case by Rush County Attorney Tony Rues, and Phillips said taking on the case is not something Schmidt would have a hand in deciding. Schwartz, however, said Schmidt is the only person he can call to ask about why the case was accepted.
"It's his office," he said. "It's his name on the door."