Douglas County Dist. Atty. Jim Flory announced today that he is leaving his job as the county's chief prosecutor effective June 17 to become an assistant U.S. attorney.
Flory said he decided to resign on April 16, when he accepted an appointment as an assistant U.S. attorney in Kansas City, Kan. Flory, 42, has been Douglas County district attorney since 1985, and his current term was to expire in January 1993.
"As is customary in such appointments, the offer was conditioned upon approval by the Department of Justice in Washington, D.C., and that final approval was received by the United States attorney just last week," Flory said.
Flory said his resignation had "absolutely nothing to do with" controversy surrounding the April 21 shooting death of 22-year-old Gregory Sevier, a Native American man, by Lawrence police.
Critics alleged that Flory was biased in favor of the police officers involved and have called for his resignation. After a coroner's jury ruled that the officers were justified, Flory ended his investigation.
FLORY SAID the timing of his decision indicates the resignation was not related to the Sevier shooting.
"Any critics that believe they have something to do with it are welcome to that opinion," he said. "It's inaccurate."
He said he has "lived in controversy for the past six years" and could have dealt with the current situation.
A statement released today from the office of U.S. Atty. Lee Thompson says that steps have been taken to remove the U.S. attorney's office from a Federal Bureau of Investigation civil rights investigation into the Sevier shooting. Thompson announced the investigation several days after the shooting.
"Although Mr. Flory's duties will not be even remotely related to the Sevier case, under the circumstances I decided to request that the Department of Justice take charge of the case, and that request has been approved," the statement quotes Thompson as saying.
The statement says Assistant U.S. Atty. Gen. John R. Dunne, chief of the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice, has assigned the case to Dan Bell, deputy chief of the criminal section of the Civil Rights Division.
FLORY FIRST was elected district attorney in 1984, when he defeated Democratic candidate Mike Glover, 17,022 votes to 14,358.
Flory was re-elected in 1988, when he ran unopposed.
In his statement, Flory congratulated his staff and thanked local law enforcement officers, Douglas County commissioners, local residents and his family for their support.
Flory said he will continue to live in Douglas County after he begins his new job, which is in the financial fraud unit.
Within the next four weeks, the four Douglas County district judges will choose an interim district attorney. The Douglas County Republican Central Committee will hold an election to decide who will finish Flory's term. County voters will elect a new district attorney in the general election in the fall of 1992.
Flory said he will not endorse a candidate. He said two of his assistants, Frank Diehl and Jerry Wells, have told him they are interested in the job. Flory said he also has discussed his resignation with Rick Trapp, another assistant district attorney, but that Trapp has not decided whether he wants the position.
FLORY SAID the highlights of his six years as prosecutor include establishing a "professional and experienced staff of career prosecutors, a strong and effective drug prosecution policy and a victim-witness program that is second to none in Kansas."
He said another highlight was the 1989 murder conviction of John William, a 29-year-old transient. William was convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment on charges stemming from the 1988 murder of 9-year-old Richard Settlemyre of Lawrence, whose mutilated and decapitated body was found in the Kansas River.
Flory said he is taking the new job because it "is an excellent career move." He will get an increase over his current salary, which is about $67,800.
When he decided to run for district attorney, Flory said, he wanted to serve more than one four-year term. Having won two terms, he said, "I felt it was time to move on."
FLORY, A lifelong resident of Douglas County, graduated from Lawrence High School in 1966. He received a bachelor of general studies degree with majors in political science and psychology from Kansas University in 1975 and earned a law degree from KU in 1978.
While attending KU, he worked for the Douglas County sheriff's department as a radio dispatcher, a deputy and a lieutenant.
From January 1979 to March 1980, Flory was an assistant in the Kansas attorney general's office criminal division.
From 1981 until he ran for district attorney, Flory headed the attorney general's criminal division. He also had been an assistant attorney general in the alcohol beverage control division and served as legal counsel for the Kansas Department of Corrections.
He and his wife, Donna, have two daughters.